The Two-Family House
St. Martin’s Press 2015
Prepare to suspend any sense of reality when reading Lynda Cohen Loigman’s debut novel, “The Two-Family House,” a family saga set in Brooklyn in 1947.
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“. . . vivid characters . . . drive the story . . .”
The likelihood that two sisters-in-law living in the same house would give birth on the same night, during a blinding snowstorm, when it was impossible to reach medical care, and then — right there in the neighborhood, a midwife — is already a bit of a farfetched scenario. But even more unbelievably coincidental, both their husbands, who are brothers, are stranded in Philadelphia conducting business for The Box Company, which they inherited from their father.
Helen and Abe live upstairs in the old-family house with their four loud and active boys, while Mort and Rose dwell downstairs with their three daughters. Mort is disappointed his wife has failed to deliver him a son, while Helen longs for the companionship of a daughter.
After the birth of the babies, Helen has the daughter she has wished-for and Mort has a son to carry on his name. Or did the mothers switch the children to fulfill each others dreams? Perhaps that’s why Helen’s and Rose’s close friendship begins to fray. As the saga unfolds, the adult children begin to question why the families had drifted apart.
Although the plot is uncomplicated and stretches credibility, the author’s vivid characters nevertheless drive the story with suspense and enough emotional tension to make it a page-turner.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla