Not Our Kind: A Novel

  • Review
By – October 3, 2018

In Not Our Kind, the post-World War II years of overt sex­ism and anti-Semi­tism are reflect­ed in the lives of the two main char­ac­ters who become deeply entan­gled in each other’s pro­found­ly dif­fer­ent worlds. Jew­ish Eleanor Moskowitz and WASP Patri­cia Bel­lamy meet by chance when Eleanor takes a job to tutor Patricia’s angry and despair­ing, polio-strick­en daugh­ter. The life strug­gles of Eleanor, who lives on work­ing class Sec­ond Avenue, and Patri­cia, a prod­uct of priv­i­lege who lives the ide­al Park Avenue exis­tence, define much of the book’s plot.

Patricia’s social­ly promi­nent and prej­u­diced hus­band, Wynn, bris­tles at hav­ing Eleanor in his home. But Patri­cia over­comes her own dis­com­fort with Eleanor as she sees their daughter’s growth, and implores Wynn to let her con­tin­ue to work with their daugh­ter. Patri­cia and Eleanor begin to form a friend­ship and gain a new sense of self-awareness.

The advice of Eleanor’s moth­er — to be wary of and keep dis­tance from the gen­tile world — is test­ed when Eleanor meets Patricia’s charm­ing and sophis­ti­cat­ed broth­er, Tom, but their grow­ing rela­tion­ship is com­pli­cat­ed by their back­grounds and expec­ta­tions. A cov­ered-up sex­u­al assault also changes the women’s per­cep­tions and lives. Eleanor and Patri­cia must maneu­ver through the ensu­ing crises and chal­lenge their long-held beliefs.

Though the plot­line is often pre­dictable, Not Our Kind is an enter­tain­ing and absorb­ing read. Read­ers will enjoy the many fash­ion and style ref­er­ences, and a trip back to the days of Bohemi­an Green­wich Vil­lage life and its ear­ly mod­ern art scene. Kit­ty Zeld­is expert­ly deliv­ers a sto­ry of love, friend­ship, and choice.

Reni­ta Last is a mem­ber of the Nas­sau Region of Hadassah’s Exec­u­tive Board. She has coor­di­nat­ed the Film Forum Series for the Region and served as Pro­gram­ming and Health Coor­di­na­tors and as a mem­ber of the Advo­ca­cy Committee.

She has vol­un­teered as a docent at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty teach­ing the all- impor­tant lessons of the Holo­caust and tol­er­ance. A retired teacher of the Gift­ed and Tal­ent­ed, she loves par­tic­i­pat­ing in book clubs and writ­ing projects.

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