With echoes of Rules of Civility and The Boston Girl, a compelling and thought-provoking novel set in postwar New York City, about two women--one Jewish, one a WASP--and the wholly unexpected consequences of their meeting. 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 milieu, 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 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.
Kitty Zeldis, Author of “Not Our Kind” had me captivated and mesmerized by her vivid and thought-provoking images and descriptions of the characters and landscape. The Genres for this Novel are Fiction,
The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complex and complicated possibly due to the circumstances in this story. Eleanor Moskowitz,a young Jewish teacher is headed in a taxi in New York City for a job interview. Eleanor is a Vassar graduate, and has left her other teaching job for personal reasons. It is raining, and traffic is exceptionally slow. Suddenly another cab, hits the taxi that Eleanor is in. Eleanor’s lip is bleeding, and now it looks like Eleanor has missed her interview. It seems like fate when a kind stranger steps in. Little does Eleanor realize how this encounter will change her life forever. Patricia Bellamy invites Eleanor to her home which is close by.
Patricia Bellamy is a wealthy, attractive and stylish woman. She lives in a dignified, elegant, older deluxe apartment house on Park Avenue. Patricia is a WASP, and hasn’t had Jewish people come to her apartment. Margaux Bellamy, her young daughter has recently recovered from Polio, and is left with a disfigured leg and limp. Margaux’s last tutor has resigned, and now a new one is needed. Margaux likes Eleanor immediately and requests that her mother hire her as a tutor.
Eleanor feels uncomfortable in Patricia’s home. Eleanor’s mother is a gifted hat-maker, and they live in smaller crowded dwellings. Eleanor somehow feels an attachment to Margaux and takes the job. Eleanor now finds that she is using the last name Moss instead of Moskowitz, when she enters the building. Another problem is that Patricia’s husband is anti-semitic.
Kitty Zeldis has written a novel that makes one think. I appreciate that the author writes about significant problems of the historical period, the aftermath of the war, the epidemic of Polio , differences in class, and religion, and discrimination. Is it possible for people from different backgrounds to be friends? The author also discusses family, traditions, friendship, love and hope. I loved everything about this book and highly recommend this to readers who enjoy the historical time period after World War Two, and the set of challenges it presents. I received an Advanced Reading Edition from the Publisher for my honest review.
Eleanor is introduced to Patricia’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Margeaux, who is crippled from polio. Because of her condition, Margeaux has been homeschooled by an inconsistent parade of tutors. The two meet and it is soon decided that Eleanor will take over her teaching responsibilities. The perfect job isn't as great as she expected because Patricia’s husband dislikes her Jewish heritage. That bias requires her to disguise her name so other building residents won’t know her religion. During the summer, Eleanor joins the Bellamys at their Connecticut home where she forms a connection with a more liberal member of the family.
I enjoyed reading the historical fiction novel ”Not Our Kind”. It was an interesting view of New York City through the eyes of people from different backgrounds. These two women forge an unlikely friendship after they discover they are more alike than expected. I look forward to reading more books by Kitty Zeldis.
Eleanor finds herself walking a tight rope as tensions rise in the Bellamy summer house, with Eleanor as a live-in, Wynn there most of the time, and then Tom, Patricia’s brother, moves in. While Margaux is doing much better, both physically and emotionally, Eleanor isn’t sure she can stay any longer. And Eleanor’s mother, a successful milliner, doesn’t understand why Eleanor doesn’t want to join her in business. And Eleanor might soon find herself having to do that, when suspicions about her arise.
I enjoyed the book- it’s a bit of a tense read- but I wish the characters had been fleshed out more. The *do* thinks, but we don’t get a feeling of why they do them. Scenes change quickly without seeming to evolve or slide into each other. It does a great job of pointing out class differences and women’s roles. I’d give it four stars- good, but not great. And while it doesn’t affect the story- I really wished more time had been spent on Eleanor’s mother and her millinery. Total vintage clothing junkie here!