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.