The Angel of Losses
By Stephanie Feldman
Ecco July 2014
From the library
Marjorie Burke is committed to finishing her thesis on the Wandering Jew. Focusing on her research also gives her a great excuse to ignore all of the things going on in her life. Her grandfather has passed away, her sister has converted to a strict sect of Judaism for her husband, and Marjorie finds herself without friends. As Marjorie goes through her grandfather's things, she finds a notebook that contains her grandfather's stories of someone called The White Rebbe. Marjorie must decide if her grandfather's tales are just stories or if they have real-life consequences for Marjorie and her family.
I picked up this book because it was often compared to two novels I greatly enjoyed - The Tiger's Wife and The History of Love. All three books deal with history and family secrets and feature a modern heroine who is looking for answers in stories from the past. Childhood stories and hidden family histories play crucial roles in each and readers grapple along with the characters in discerning how we are shaped by our families.
Unfortunately, while I liked many things about this book, it just didn't come together for me. The story moves between the stories of the White Rebbe, which are provided in full for the reader and Marjorie's discoveries about her family. The connections between the two don't really come together, though. I appreciate as a reader when an author believes me to be intelligent enough to put things together, but this felt like too many answers were tenuous at best.
There are many readers who enjoyed this beautifully written book. If you love mysticism, fairy tales, and family secrets, this is probably a perfect story for you. But I found myself feeling muddled for most of it, hoping a moment of clarity would finally arrive.