The Two-Family House
by Lynda Cohen Loigman
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Pub Date 08 Mar 2016 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2017
"An emotional but dreamy novel that...will transport you far, far away from your next dreary Monday morning. You may do a lot of sobbing, but don't worry, you'll be smiling by the end." —Bustle, "12 Spring Break Reads To Help You Escape Normal Life"
**Buzzfeed, "14 Of The Most Buzzed-About Books"
**Popsugar, "6 Books You Should Read"
"A novel you won't be able to put down." —Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author
Brooklyn, 1947: In the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born, minutes apart. The mothers are sisters by marriage: dutiful, quiet Rose, who wants nothing more than to please her difficult husband; and warm, generous Helen, the exhausted mother of four rambunctious boys who seem to need her less and less each day. Raising their families side by side, supporting one another, Rose and Helen share an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic winter night.
When the storm passes, life seems to return to normal; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and the once deep friendship between the two women begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost, but not quite, wins. Moving and evocative, Lynda Cohen Loigman's debut novel The Two-Family House is a heart-wrenching, gripping multigenerational story, woven around the deepest of secrets.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 137 members
A story simply told, with an earth-shattering secret at its center. "The Two Family House" follows sisters-in-law Rose and Helen, sharing a duplex with their husbands and children in the years after WWII. A spontaneous decision has long-lasting consequences, and is at the center of an intriguing plot about love, loss, and redemption. Loigman occasionally struggles to balance the large number of characters in the extended Berman family, but generally manages to capture an unusual situation from multiple perspectives. The farfetched elements of the story are tempered by the highly believable, slice-of-life elements of the narrative, and it is easy to treasure the extensive, sensitively-portrayed Berman clan.
On a snowy Brooklyn night in 1947, two women, sister by marriage and friends by choice will each give birth. Helen and Rose are married to brothers Abe and Mort and the two families share a brownstone. While both have other children, they are eagerly awaiting the births of their new infants, and each has a very particular wish. The babies are born, healthy and happy and time marches on. At first the friendship between Helen and Rose is as strong as ever, but as time passes, their relationship grows more and more strained until they barely speak to each other. Both women carry a big secret, one forged on a snowy night long ago, one that threatens to destroy not only their relationship, but their families as well. Most readers will probably guess the secret, but that does nothing to mitigate the fascinating interaction between Rose and Helen. A story about the lengths that we go to to make our families happy
This is the story of Helen and Rose, sisters-in-law and best friends raising their families and sharing their lives together. Helen has the upstairs apartment with her husband Abe and is raising a house full of boys.
Rose has the downstairs with her husband Mort and their daughters.
This struck a chord with me, as when my husband and I were first married we lived for 5 years in a 2 family house and had the upstairs. Downstairs were my parents and sisters. I felt the author quite accurately portrayed the feeling of being one big happy family and yet still wanting your own space with your own family.
Though Abe and Mort are brothers they are very different and not as close as Helen and Rose. They own a business together and work together each day but don't share much else in common. Their approach to raising children is quite different, their marriages are quite different, Mort is more cold and less demonstrative, sometimes cruel. Abe is more warm and affectionate. Rose often feels that things would be different if she had born a son instead of only daughters... Helen sometimes feels overwhelmed with her house full of boisterous boys and wishes she had a daughter to talk and laugh and share with, but they each try to make the best of things in their own way, and they could not love each other more if they were sisters by blood and not only marriage.
Sadly, choices that they make leads to a rift in their relationship. Things they thought they could live with become impossible to bear. Tragedy tears them further apart. I don't want to give away too much, but I truly felt for these characters, I sympathized, I empathized and I felt their heartbreak. I am impressed with author Lynda Cohen Loigman and will most definitely be keeping an eye out for her future work.
I received an advance copy for review.
Even though the big secret is very obvious early on in the story, that did not stop me from enjoying Lynda Cohen Loigman's debut novel THE TWO FAMILY HOUSE.
Helen and Rose are sister in laws, married to brothers Abe & Mort Berman. The couples reside in a two story family home in Brooklyn; Helen, Abe and their three sons live on the top floor while Mort, Rose and their three daughters live on the ground floor. Abe is loving, patient and warm hearted, Mort is critical, cold and judgmental. Mort is unsatisfied with his lot in life, putting his dreams aside, having three daughters and a gregarious older brother whom everyone looks up too. Rose is envious of Helen's good marriage and frets that only a son can fix her marriage with Mort. It is soon discovered that Helen and Rose are both pregnant and expecting at the same time. Each sister in law hopes to have a new baby born in the opposite sex, Rose a son and Helen a daughter.
Sometimes be careful what you wish for.
I appreciated the dynamics between Rose and Helen, and their children and husbands. I got the sense that parts of this story must have occurred in the author's childhood, because it felt so real and natural. I relished the character of Judith ( the eldest daughter of Rose & Mort). Her adolescent pain, awkwardness and embarrassment was veritable and honest. The extended family members Sol, Arlene, Aunt Faye and Uncle Stuart were equally believable.
This was not the best written novel, but it was a quick and easy read , which was wholly engaging.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing be with an ARC.
Set in New York in 1947 Mort and Abe are brothers who run their family's business together as well as live in the same two-family house, but that's about where their similarities end.
Mort lives on the first floor of the house with is wife, Rose and three daughters. Always dreaming of having a boy, Mort shows very little interest in his daughters at all, and eventually became distant from Rose as well. Although he has 3 fantastic daughters, he never gets close enough to them to be able to appreciate their gifts. He very distant and socially awkward in his professional life as well. His glass-half-empty attitude he never allows him to enjoy anything, and always has him wishing for the things he thinks life/circumstances has unfairly cheated him out of.
Abe and his wife, Helen live on the second floor of the house with their 4 sons. Abe couldn't love his wife any more than he does. He is also such a great, hands-on dad and takes a lot of pride in his boys. Abe is a positive, upbeat guy and it reflects in his relationships both personal and professional.
Rose and Helen are of course sisters-in-law, but more importantly they are best friends. They are as close as sisters and have always had each other's back. Then both ladies find themselves pregnant again. Being that they both thought they were finished having children, they are thrilled to be going through this surprise pregnancy with each other. As fate would have it they both delivered on the same night during a terrible blizzard while their husbands were away on business. And all I can say is wowzer!!!!!
I really don't want to say anymore about the storyline or plot for fear of spoilers! I really loved how this book was played out! There were some major twists and turns that had me on the edge of my seat at times. I love how Lynda Cohen Loigman took us through decades with this family and we are able to see the domino effect of decisions made years prior. My heart literally hurt for both women and although I'm not usually a crier, I definitely needed tissues!! The Two-Family house is 5 star book that will keep you completely engrossed throughout. I still can't believe this is Lynda Cohen Loigman's first novel (because it's just that good), but I will hands down be 1-clicking whatever she comes up with next!
I want to thank Lynda Cohen Loigman, St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing us this ARC in exchange for an honest review
The Two-Family House is family drama twisted with sibling rivalry and a true good read. The story kept me reading the different viewpoints on family life. The views on ...-What is family? - How do we define Family? -How do we show our love for our family? This is truly a read not to miss!!
This is an impressive debut novel which focuses on that trickiest of subjects - complex family dynamics and relationships over a considerable period of time. Helen and Rose are friends that share lives, bring up families and live in the same house. They are married to two brothers who are in business together.
After having a wonderful relationship, strains begin to appear between Helen and Rose due to decisions made. Secrets are revealed and heartbreak comes in the form of tragedy. Cultural norms of the day are captured beautifully, for example, gender roles.
Loigman has a keen understanding of the complexities of individuals and the interactions in relationships. She captures the nature of families in a realistic fashion and the myriad of emotions that go with them. I thoroughly recommend this intelligent debut book to others. I would like to thank St Martin, the publishers for an ebook copy via netgalley for an honest review.
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