NOT OUR KIND (Harper) by Kitty Zeldis transports readers back to 1947 New York City and tells the compelling and thought-provoking story about two women—one Jewish, one a WASP—and the wholly unexpected consequences of their meeting.
I immediately connected with this story, because even in our current times there can be awkwardness and discomfort between people coming from different worlds. I was raised Catholic and knew very few Jewish people while growing up. During college in the 1980s, I became an au pair for a New York City Park Avenue Jewish family’s three sons. The differences between us were many. There were times when I was uneasy and I’m sure they were too, but we made it work and I became the daughter they never had, eventually giving me my wedding. My first memory was having bagels one morning. I’d grown up putting butter and peanut butter on my bagels. I was astonished by the spread that was put out before us for bagels … tomatoes, white fish salad, onions, cream cheese, oh my, I completely embraced it.
In NOT MY KIND, one rainy morning in June, two years after the end of World War II, a minor traffic accident brings together Eleanor Moskowitz and Patricia Bellamy. Their encounter seems fated: Eleanor, a teacher and recent Vassar graduate, needs a job. Patricia’s difficult thirteen-year-old daughter Margaux, recovering from polio, needs a private tutor.
Though she feels out-of-place in the Bellamys’ rarefied and elegant Park Avenue world, Eleanor forms an instant bond with Margaux. Soon the idealistic young woman is filling the bright young girl’s mind with Shakespeare and Latin. Though her mother, a hat maker with a little shop on Second Avenue, disapproves, Eleanor takes pride in her work, even if she must use the name “Moss” to enter the Bellamys’ restricted doorman building each morning. And Eleanor feels that Patricia’s husband, Wynn, may have a problem with her being Jewish.
Invited to keep Margaux company at the Bellamys’ country home in a small town in Connecticut, Eleanor meets Patricia’s unreliable, bohemian brother, Tom, recently returned from Europe. The spark between Eleanor and Tom is instant and intense. Flushed with new romance and increasingly attached to her young pupil, Eleanor begins to feel more comfortable with Patricia and much of the world she inhabits. As the summer wears on, the two women’s friendship grows—until one hot summer evening, a line is crossed, and both Eleanor and Patricia will have to make important decisions—choices that will reverberate through their lives.
Gripping and vividly told, NOT OUR KIND illuminates the lives of two women on the cusp of change—and asks how much our pasts can and should define our futures. But from experience I can tell you the more things change, in many ways do they remain the same.
I hope NOT MY KIND is adapted into a film or television series. I just loved how author, Kitty Zeldis captures authentic friendships between women, with all their complications and love.
KITTY ZELDIS is the nom de plume of a Brooklyn-based novelist and a children’s book author.
Thanks to HarperCollins, we have one copy of NOT OUR KIND to giveaway. Just tell us what you love about reading historical fiction.
We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.
GIVEAWAY: USA only please