The Hours Count: A Novel

Riverhead Books  2015


On June 19 1953 Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed for conspiring to commit espionage. The day Ethel was first arrested in 1950, she left her two young sons with a neighbor and never came home to them again. Brilliantly melding fact and fiction, Jillian Cantor reimagines the life of that neighbor and the lives of Ethel and Julius, an ordinary-seeming Jewish couple who became the only Americans put to death for spying during the Cold War.

In 1947, Millie Stein moves with her husband, Ed, and their toddler, David, into an apartment in New York's Lower East Side, where the Rosenbergs are her new neighbors. Struggling to care for David, who doesn't speak, and isolated from other "normal" families, Millie meets Jake, a psychologist who says he can help David, and befriends Ethel—also a young mother. Millie and Ethel's lives as friends, wives, mothers, and neighbors entwine even as chaos begins to swirl around the Rosenbergs and the FBI closes in. Millie begins to question her own husband's political loyalty and her marriage, and whether she can trust Jake and the deep connection they have forged as they secretly work with David. Caught between these two men and desperate to help her friends, Millie will find herself drawn into the dramatic course of history. As Millie--trusting and naive--is thrown into a world of lies, intrigue, and espionage, she realizes she must fight for what she believes, who she loves, and what is right.

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