Not Our Kind: A Novel

by Kitty Zeldis

Book, 2018



Call number




New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018


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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Kathl33n
Definitely an interesting perspective of US history - antisemitism after WWII - not a time period that I remember having read before. The author really does an amazing job with setting that time and place and really grounded the reader into that age through the NYC location, the summering up north,
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the clothes, and the hats - can't forget to mention the hats! The story itself didn't really blow me away, but it was great vehicle to impart this time of US history through a historical fiction read. Many thanks to Goodreads and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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LibraryThing member teachlz
My Review of “Not Our Kind” by Kitty Zeldis Harper Collins Publishers September 4, 2018

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,
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Women’s Fiction and Historical Fiction. The time period of this novel is set two years after World War Two, in both New York City and Conneticut.

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.
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LibraryThing member leopolds
Eleanor Moskowitz is stuck in a taxi in New York City during a visit from President Truman. She is without employment and is running late for a job interview for a teaching position. Her cab is hit by another vehicle leaving her with minor injuries. The other taxi’s passenger, Patricia Bellamy,
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feels responsible and takes her to her apartment for treatment.

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.
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LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
This book started out really slow (I even had to put it down for a while), but the story does pick up and it turned out to be a very different story than what I expected. Eleanor is a young Jewish woman who takes a position as a private tutor to a polio-disabled daughter of a wealthy family. She
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develops a strong and friendly relationship with the daughter and her mother Patricia and even Patricia's brother Tom, but the father is a character who could have made headlines in a #MeToo scandal. Despite its slow start, this book finishes on a strong note and I enjoyed the story, even if I wishes for a more just ending for some of the characters.
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LibraryThing member lauriebrown54
In the time after WW 2, Eleanor Moskowitz, young Vassar grad, is on her way to interview for a teaching position, when her cab collides with another one, this one bearing Patricia Bellamy. The jolt leaves Eleanor with blood on her face, and Patricia feels compelled to invite Eleanor to her home to
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freshen up. Having by now missed her appointment, Eleanor goes with Patricia. Patricia lives in an expensive, upper class apartment building. Patricia happens to need a tutor for her 13 year old daughter Margaux, recently recovering from polio, which has left Margaux with a limp and a large attitude. Match made in heaven? Well, it might be- except the Bellamys are WASP and Eleanor is Jewish. But Eleanor and Margaux have made an instant connection, so Patricia decides it’s worth the risk- if Eleanor shortens her name to ‘Moss’. It would never do for anyone in the building- especially Wynn Bellamy, Patricia’s husband- to know they had allowed a Jew in, even as an employee.

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!
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LibraryThing member nyiper
I listened to the CD and thoroughly enjoyed it except that Margaux's voice was particularly....awful? Of course, she really did capture the whining nature of this child!!! The book itself was really well told. That fact that this author used this pseudonym instead of her real name will make it a
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little challenging to find other works by her.
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LibraryThing member JessBass87
Didn't quite end the way I wanted it to.
LibraryThing member HandelmanLibraryTINR
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.

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