The House on Lippincott
a novel by Bonnie Burstow

0-9736709-5-9
344 Pages
April 06, 2006
Fiction Academic All Titles Novel

$19.95

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The House on Lippincott a novel by Bonnie Burstow

Embedded in Canadian and world history, and set in downtown Toronto between 1947 and the turn of the century, The House on Lippincott is a Jewish family saga which weaves together family caring, Holocaust trauma, abuse, aging, betrayal, anti-Semitism, resistance, and celebration, while introducing vital new characters to the Canadian landscape. There is brilliant feminist scholar and thinker, Miriam Himmelfarb, from whose perspective the story unfolds, her parents--Rachael and Daniel--both Holocaust survivors and activists, mysterious Uncle Yacov, and sisters Sondra and Esther. As children of survivors, early on, Miriam and her sisters make a decision which is to haunt them. A woman with heart, the aging Rachael presents her family with yet another harrowing choice. Compelling, passionate, touching. Long buried secrets come to light. Throughout, this novel is engrossing, passionate, captivating. Grounded in the language and conundrums of a Jewish immigrant family, it has the appeal of any novel embedded in a specific culture. At the same time, it extends beyond that culture, and indeed, beyond the Holocaust, bringing us face-to-face with the human condition: our ability to create joy and meaning even under dire circumstances, human suffering, growing up, responsibility, love, betrayal, family ties, the realities of growing old, death and the vulnerability of the human soul.

"The House on Lippincott is at once brilliant, and deeply moving. Set in a Toronto Jewish family where parents "eema" and "abba" are Holocaust survivors, the book masterfully interweaves their agonizing flashbacks and nightmares, horrifying and historically accurate facts of the hell-on-earth that was Auschwitz, and the personal struggles of daughters Miriam, Esther and Sondra. You don't have to be Jewish or a Holocaust survivor to be moved by this book, because it is so sensitively and honestly written, so compassionate, so human. I rarely cry over a book, but while reading The House on Lippincott my eyes filled up more than once. Burstow's loving description of the Shabbes (Sabbath) dinners in the Himmelfarb family made me wish my family had observed Shabbes. The character descriptions are so vivid and compelling that the reader is taken inside this family. Burstow's novel is not only the work of a talented storyteller, it's a work of love and respect -- a mitzvah. I'm urging my children and close friends to read this book."
~Don Weitz, social justice activist, freelance writer and producer at CKLN

"Bonnie Burstow's novel is poignant, tough and intelligent. In a distinctly Canadian working through of postmemory, The House on Lippincott takes on the intellectual and political controversies of today, under the shadow of the Holocaust, with respect for the pain and dignity of survivors and their families, and with a warm feeling for Judaism, even the Judaism of atheists."
~Sara R. Horowitz, Director of the Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, and author of Voicing the Void: Muteness and Memory in Holocaust Fiction

"From the camps of Nazi Germany to the streets of Toronto, The House on Lippincott is a complex family drama, a vivid exploration of the intersection of world history and everyday lives. A novel which I highly recommend, Burstow's groundbreaking work is at once a fascinating read and an important foray into the personal and the social, into trauma and resilience."
~Persimmon Blackbridge is a writer and an artist. Her novel Sunnybrook won the Ferro Grumley Fiction Prize (New York City) and, an earlier book, Her Tongue on My Theory, won a Lambda Literary Award (Washington, DC).

"Bonnie Burstow"s wide-ranging novel explores and reveals the aftermath of the Holocaust: its tenacious hold on survivors as well as their second and third generation descendents. This multi-dimensional work moves between memory and contemporary Jewish experience: all shades of feminism, left politics, and religious observance are represented, as are contemporary philosophic disputes. Burstow is to be commended for including in her novel the disturbing truth of Canada';s heartless response to the victims of the Holocaust." 
~Frieda Forman, founder and coordinator of the Women"s Educational Resources Centre, OISE/UT, and editor of the anthologies Taking Our Time: Feminist Perspectives on Temporality and Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers.

"Genocide is an event whose boundaries are unstable. This is particularly so for survivors and their families. The inheritance of Holocaust memories are indeterminate because they presume a difficult, personally confrontational question: how will you live when histories of violence and violation cannot be contained? How will you live within the presence of Auschwitz? Burstow provides a compelling portrait of the Himmelfarb family as it struggles with the everyday realities of this question. The House on Lippincott is an important, imaginative contribution to our understanding of how violent histories unsettle lives across generations."
~Roger I. Simon, Director of the University of Toronto's Centre for Media and Culture in Education and author of The Touch of the Past: Remembrance, Learning, and Ethics.

A Jew born in north end Winnipeg toward the end of world war two, Bonnie Burstow is an activist, a feminist psychotherapist, a trauma specialist, a videographer, an academic, and a prolific author. Her most well-known book--Radical Feminist Therapy--is a recognized classic which was recently translated into Croatian by the Centre for War Victims in Zagreb and placed in every women's shelter throughout Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Slovenia. Bonnie has worked for decades as an ally in the struggles of marginalized populations, especially psychiatric survivors. She has received numerous awards, including the City of Toronto's Constance E. Hamilton Award. She is currently a full time faculty member in the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

The House on Lippincott
By Mel Starkman

Do you want to read an inspiring novel? I highly recommend The House on Lippincott. It will grip you even if your culture is different from the author's or the characters that she fashions out of her vivid, hopeful imagination. It is about a family caught up in the multigenerational trauma of Holocaust survivors, Daniel and Rachael Himmelfarb, the middle daughter Miriam being the narrator. It is set in Toronto near the Kensington Market.

The book, by Bonnie Burstow, is her first published if not written novel. She has a prolific number of academic articles and two books to her credit, Shrink Resistant and Radical Feminist Therapy, but this book is her wider outreach to the diverse country we live in and hopefully to the world as the issues discussed by the characters transcend borders of geography and mind.

The plot races along with believable twists and turns focusing on the one family. The themes and discourse derive from varied herstorical, Bible, and present-day problematics including anti-psychiatry, anti-fascism, feminism, gay culture, and personal assault. This is a book of culture for the cultured and will make you ponder questions you might have insufficiently addressed in your own life.

The mother, Rachael, who is the most endearing character to me, is a Shakespearian scholar at the male-dominated and minority unconscious University of a few years ago. She straddles the middle of the chasm in most issues but keeps the family together. Her straddling is one of reason amid irrationality, a positive force even as regards the Palestinian issue in Israel proper. As she says on page 232 of Holocaust survivors: "Most of my life, I've been an English professor, yes? And I know from metaphor. We were literally in hell." No Leon Uris heroics here of cardboard characters and devised plots. The denouement is a work of jagged diamonds.

The story is family-centered and intellectual issues and dream images texture the novel as part of the tapestry. The story of the previous to the Holocaust destruction of the psychiatrically impacted, the handicapped and gays and lesbians come out into the light of day as it rarely does.

There is a genogram to follow and a genealogy of Yiddish and Hebrew words to aid those who do not speak either language. It is a short lesson in itself.

Being honest with her feelings the protagonist says on page 7 in the prologue: "And us Jews, we do have a sense of ourselves asbeings with a mission, as beings who can change the course of history, repair the broken vessels, heal the world. We take the responsibility and fight against injustice -- yes, and perpetrate injustice too, let's be clear about that."

To me it was a transformative experience further aiding me in my growth and knowledge. As an Adult Education professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Bonnie has broken new ground in controversy and consciousness raising in her continuing struggle to do her part in repairing the world.

Speaking to Bonnie, a warm, delightful person, I asked her, ";what was your underlying intention in the book?" Focusing as she does, she answered: "The book is about transgenerational trauma of the Holocaust. I wanted to show how Holocaust trauma plays out in families across generations. As I teased out this family and this book, however, the book ended up being about much more than that. It ended up about family caring, hope, humour, resistance."

The book is available from Inanna Publications and Education Inc. www.yorku.ca/inanna. Bonnie does for the Jewish community what Angela's Ashes did for the Irish diaspora and home though in a less earthy way.

Happy reading!

Originally published in The Voice, May 4, 2006. Reprinted with permission

Reviewed by Paula David
Coordinator, Holocaust Resource Program
Baycrest, Toronto 

Occasionally I read a book that I feel must be shared on this venue, knowing it will be of particular interest to this readership. Bonnie Burstow's newest novel is an engrossing one that captivates the reader on many levels. The House on Lippincott is so rich with believable characters, familiar language, poignant drama and powerful images that one is hard pressed to believe it is fiction.

Bustow has written such a compelling novel, that the characters become extended family, their joys celebrated by the reader and their losses having an equally strong impact. It is the story of a family as filtered through the astute and very observant perceptions of one of three daughters. Miriam Himmelfarb recounts the story of her family, recalling even the details of her own birth, as related to her by her mother. Miriam begins to weave the narrative of her family's story at a critical end point, following the death of her beloved 85 year old mother. From the first pages, the strength of the family bonds are felt and as the story moves back in time in order to move forward, the bonds and the connections become stronger. The Himmelfarbs, in the evolution of their family saga, become neighbours and family members and the reader is drawn into their world.

The House on Lippincott takes place in post War downtown Toronto. The Himmelfarb family lives on Lippincott in the heart of a diverse and thriving immigrant community. Miriam's parents Rachael and Daniel are both Holocaust survivors, haunted by their losses and trauma, while at the same time teaching their daughters about strength and resilience. Their pain at times can sear the reader's soul and yet the love in the family with all its raw humanity is just as palpable. Initially, the young Miriam and her sisters aren't too aware of the details of the Holocaust but they are very much aware of their parents' pain. The young Miriam speaks of her parents' preference for socializing with "the campers". She recalls the picnics, where they gathered in a Toronto park, sharing laughter, bagels, cream cheese, knishes and memories of Auschwitz. She recalls the chill of understanding on a hot summer day when her mother wore short sleeves and strangers eyes were drawn to the tattoo on her arm. Her description of the campers' kids trying to make sense of their parents' history stretches the imagination of the reader almost as much as it must have stretched the children. Miriam pulls the reader along as she grows up with her family, weaving in and out of family landmines the normal and the expected juxtaposed with the dark and the traumatic.

Burstow has written Miriam's and the Himmelfarb story with a creative insight and mastery that is riveting. Her passion and compassion for the family secrets and the family pain is balanced by her respect and joy in the family strengths and capacity for love. Burstow uses many thoughtful and well constructed techniques to achieve this. Creating a child as the central protagonist, Burstow allows the reader to mature alongside Miriam, developing new and more refined insights into the family dynamics as Miriam's understanding grows. Difficult and painful issues secreted by the family are tucked and hidden within the pages just as they are pushed into dark corners of "real" families. The Himmelfarb family's language is riddled with Yiddish and some Hebrew and the parents have retained their European accents. A dictionary is thoughtfully provided to assist the reader in understanding, but even when not checking, these words add an authenticity to the dialogue. While initally this seemed a little contrived, as I became more involved with the story, I found that the foreign words and sentence structure made me feel privileged, as though I were eavesdropping on some very intimate conversations, further contributing to the ongoing feeling that this was too real to be fiction.

Burstow has created the novel's characters with such a strong humanistic realism that they come to life within the pages of the book. There are no stereotypes here. The Himmelfarbs are portrayed with a respectful dignity and brutal honesty and are neither heroic nor simplistic. They are typical survivors, like the other campers' came to a new country with less than nothing and struggled to raise a family, pay their bills, live with their losses and grief and committed to raise their children with as much normalcy as their devastated histories would allow. They are remarkable individuals who are part of a remarkable group. Rachael Himmelfarb, the brilliant young German philosopher is able to teach in her adopted country and she finds personal satisfaction in her own right. Her husband Daniel never did adapt as well, and was a frustrated tailor by day and a haunted political activist in the evenings. Miriam portrays her father with such bittersweet honesty that despite his vulnerabilities and difficulties, his character still allows for care and concern. Rachael is the personality in the family that is most like Miriam¹s and yet there is an invisible Holocaust presence standing in the way of too many comparisons.

Burstow weaves the challenges and the complexities of family life between the generations drawing parallels and underlining differences in the context of trauma, the inability to ensure peace and the efforts to attain it. There is the trauma of the senior Himmelfarbs as their Holocasut memories leak into the consciousness of the reader. There is the trauma of the second generation as they try to reconcile their parents¹ memories with the insidious trauma of the present. Then there is the ominous push and pull that gives new meaning to the term Œtug-of-war¹ as Miriam tries to understand her family in the context of its traumatic past, at the same time seeking her own place in an often traumatic present while trying to claim her own future.

The book itself is a reflection of the lives of survivor families. It is a blend of sorrow and joy, heartache and hope and family life that is unequivocally believable. This comes from a reader who approaches Holocaust novels with some scepticism and little enthusiasm. Having worked with survivors and their families for most of my professional career, I appreciate first hand the complex layers of emotions and invisible scars that are integral parts of these families¹ foundations. Too often in fiction, this paradoxically proud and painful history is either sensationalized or trivialized. This is not the case in Burstow¹s novel, for through the Himmelfarb family, she honours the strengths of all survivor families. There are themes, images, reconciliation and hope for survivors of the Holocaust and their families as well survivors of other wars and traumas.

The House on Lippincott struck even more chords with me. I was born the same year as Miriam Himmelfarb, also the middle of three daughters and also spent my early years in downtown Toronto, just a few blocks east of Lippincott. I was born in the same hospital, attended Œsociety¹ picnics (groups of immigrants sharing early history and geography) in the same park, and while not my parents, my grandparents spoke with the same syntax as the senior Himmelfarbs. As a child I listened to the same socialist debates as Miriam and later as a young adult involved myself in similar politics and passions. Miriam¹s Toronto was also my Toronto, her neighbours mine and the streets she walked the same ones I walked. At times I found it hard to believe that Miriam and I were not actually long-lost friends, and even harder to believe that Burstow grew up in Winnipeg, far from the neighbourhood she so carefully describes. She has portrayed 50 years of Toronto history with such accuracy and insight that it is a credit to her ability as a writer that she built The House on Lippincott, and added enough substance to create a home!

Burstow demonstrates this same knack throughout her book. Between the lines, underneath the family saga, there are layers and layers of the social history of a vibrant community in a dynamic era. She imbues the entire book with her strong sense of social action, touching on socialism, feminism, religious identity, social justice, family violence and poses serious political, moral and ethical dilemmas. She manages to do this without being pedantic or righteous and achieves that delicate balance between stimulating and overwhelming the reader. While the novel is intellectually provocative and gives new insight into the meaning of trauma, it is also a riveting page turner that takes the reader temporarily out of her own world and lands her directly onto Lippincott Street. Only upon completing the novel, did I realize that it began with the ending, and the inability to put it down once I started had nothing to do with the plot and needing to find the resolution. I just wanted to spend more time with the Himmelfarb family. I knew that if I understood more about them and their world, I might understand more about me and my world. I realized that their diverse positions on so many issues made me look at my family and my views with a new perspective.

Even though I kept reading and didn't want to stop, I was sorry when I finished it. This is a special book that will resonate with many people. If you are part of a Survivor family, if you are Jewish, if you are part of an immigrant family, if you are part of a family at all, if you grew up in Toronto, if you wondered what it was like growing up in Toronto, if you want to learn more about the impact of the Holocaust, if you want to understand the meaning of resilience, if you are interested in the impact of religion in the family, if you are interested in the impact of atheism in the family and most of all, if you're looking for an excellent read, I strongly recommend The House on Lippincott by Bonnie Burstow. You won't be disappointed!

Published in If Not Now, Volume 6, Spring/Summer 2006. Reprinted with permission.

Review by Mark Federman

Since beginning my graduate work, I have put aside any hope of reading fiction until I'm done. There is simply so much heavy reading to do in the course of a doctoral degree - not to mention ancillary reading and research for lectures and talks - that fiction would seem like the proverbial busman's holiday. I did, however, make one exception: Bonnie Burstow's remarkable book, The House on Lippincott, published this spring by Inanna Press.

The book is at once profoundly moving and intellectually challenging as it recounts the life and times of the Himmelfarb family, perceived through the eyes and heart of Miriam, the second eldest daughter, in the role of narrator.

I love this book for a variety of reasons:

First, I know these characters. Not only do they represent people who have passed through my life at one time or another, Bonnie has created characters with such nuanced depth of personality that they are, indeed, real. Even the minor characters correspond faithfully to my experience and memories of those who have been on the periphery of my life.

Second, in the three daughters, Sondra, Miriam and Esther, Bonnie has explored three very distinct responses to the family life of Holocaust-survivor parents. None is a caricature, yet each in her own way, captures the unique mentality of a child - and later adult - attempting to make sense of the incomprehensible as it infiltrates her own life.

Third, without revealing the end of the story, the final scenes represent the ultimate triumph of the human spirit over the evil that was perpetrated during the Holocaust, even in the inevitable decline of that spirit. The resolution of the story, facilitated by Eema (mother) in her final days, stands in stark contrast to the ultimate defeat of her husband by the ghosts of the Nazis that tormented him throughout his life, and through him, I would say, tormented his daughters.

Fourth, there is an important process of witnessing that occurs throughout this story that I have not encountered elsewhere. In particular, the gendered experience of the Holocaust represents a set of experiences that have not been widely publicized, that are important to chronicle. Throughout history, the tragic experience of evil and depravity has always been, and continues to be, a gendered phenomenon. It is only relatively recently that the awareness of this divide has reached the mass media and popular consciousness. In my own reading about the Holocaust over the years, and through the representations and narratives contained among Holocaust memorials and museums that I have visited, I had only heard very few of the experiences in the camps that were uniquely experienced by women and girls.

Fifth, and perhaps most important, this book is the story of the particular heritage of the Canadian Jewish community. While it starkly confronts the reader with images from Auschwitz, it equally confronts the reader with images from countless homes across Toronto and, I would expect, Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and the various smaller centres that were the final destinations of thousands of post-war, Jewish refugees. Albeit a fictional account in which the characters are all amalgams of life stories drawn from both research and Bonnie's clinical practice as a trauma therapist, these stories are important for Canadian Jews to know. Irrespective of whether readers share their generation with Miriam, Sondra and Esther, or whether they are the children of that generation, the book is one of the ways to understand our own psyche.

The House on Lippincott is a starkly beautiful, and profoundly moving novel. Bonnie Burstow has peered into the hearts and souls and minds of countless Holocaust survivor families to richly bring the fictional Himmelfarb family to life. Through them, she weaves a tale that captures the unique experience of late twentieth century Canadian Jews. If this story touches your heritage, you owe it to yourself to read this novel. And if this particular story is, for you, foreign, it is still worthwhile: The House on Lippincott illuminates an aspect of contemporary Canadian society that has substantially influenced and shaped its current multicultural sensibility. Whether it is your story or not, read this book.

* * *

Mark Federman is completing a Ph.D. in Adult Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Until recently, Mark has played the role of Chief Strategist at the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. In addition to teaching at U of T, he has been a visiting professor at the Fachhochschule in Kiel Germany, and is regular guest lecturer at Högskölan för Lärande och Kommunikation in Jönköping Sweden, and elsewhere. He is the co-author, with Derrick de Kerckhove, of McLuhan for Managers ‹ New Tools for New Thinking. An internationally sought lecturer, speaker, facilitator and playshop leader, Mark consults to businesses and government agencies as a strategy advisor, using Marshall McLuhan's thinking tools as an approach to gaining awareness, perception and insight into complex issues in an environment of continual change.

Published in Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme, Vol. 25, Nos. 3,4 (Summer/Fall 2006).

Reviewed by Naomi Binder Wall

The House on Lippincott is a story told from the point of view of a Jewish girl growing up in the shadow of Auschwitz. It is a deeply honest account of four generations of a family devastated by the Holocaust. The book begins with a genogram of the fictional Himmelfarb family, last updated April 16, 2000. The earliest recorded birth is 1885, the most recent, 1999. It reminds me of the complicated genograms provided by 19t h-century Russian novelists, but it isn’t nearly as formidable. Following the genogram is a note to the reader regarding the author’s use of Yiddish. Here Burstow identifies some of the Yiddish words and expressions that pepper the narrative. Her definitions of these expressive gems are wonderful. In fact, the book is filled with humour. One of my favourite funny moments happens during a family seder, when the narrator, Miriam, describes her father’s lesson on Moses: “Every so often he stopped to speak about Moses, about how Moses was once a prince but was a socialist at heart and had walked out on Pharaoh and joined the working class.”

While The House on Lippincott h a s some comic relief, it is first and foremost a story reflecting pain and filled with histories of fear, loss, and grief. The Holocaust, and the Himmelfarb family’s experience of it, form the central focus of the story. As a parallel plot, secrets embedded in the family’s past begin to surface early in the narrative, secrets not fully revealed until the end of the story. This creates a persistent undercurrent of tension. Memories of the Holocaust explode throughout the book—in dreams, in conversation and dialogue, and in italicized sections inserted all through the text. In the Himmelfarb family, everyone talks about the Holocaust. Miriam’s father, in particular, evokes the Holocaust whenever he has something important to say about the working class, or issues of family loyalty.

Everyone is forthright about the Holocaust. What they are silent about is the mounting evidence that the family has been complicit with abuse and betrayal, perpetrated right in its midst. In Burstow’s narrative, issues of violence against women and childhood sexual assault intersect with the horrors of the Holocaust. They play out like mirror images.

There is no doubt that many readers, particularly Ashkenazi Jews whose histories reflect the Tikkun Olam tradition, will recognize themselves, and their mothers, fathers, uncles, and grandparents, in the characters that make up the West End Toronto community of the Himmelfarb family. The House on Lippincott has both a particular and a universal reach. It poses crucial questions. For example, Miriam’s mother, herself a survivor of Auschwitz, asks: “What do I owe the six million? What does it mean, ‘the promised land’?”

As a way of addressing these questions, Burstow weaves a debate through the narrative and within the family regarding the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Locating the discussion within the framework of the Middle East, Burstow demonstrates the relationship between the legacy and obligations of the Holocaust, and Israel’s occupation of Palestine. As a part of the ongoing discussion within the family about events unfolding in the Middle East, she revives the debate about whether Israel’s capture of Adolph Eichmann from Argentina was a violation of international law. As Miriam’s mother says, “But … to just go into another country like that—without authorization!” Her remark echoes, over the many years since Eichmann’s capture, Israel’s continuing violations of international law.

Burstow applies her extensive knowledge as an activist/academic, combined with expertise in the areas of violence, trauma, and anti-psychiatry theory and practice. She is also an archivist, with a wide knowledge of right-wing politics and neo-fascism in Canada. In The House on Lippincott, she employs all this knowledge to the shaping of her characters and to the events that frame their lives.

Burstow weaves two recurrent and parallel themes through the storyline. One is the question of whether or not the artist bears social/political responsibilities in the practice of her/his art. The other is a critique of postmodernism. The protagonist and narrator, Miriam, does some research about two of her mentors, the postmodernists Paul de Man and Jacques Derrida. She uncovers some evidence that de Man had connections to the Nazis, and that Derrida wrote an apologist response to de Man’s accusers. Of course, all this is history, but in the context of Miriam’s life, her discovery of these allegations throws everything into question. As she says: “It became clear to me that Derrida’s evasion was indicative of a more fundamental evasion at the heart of postmodernism. If everything is indecipherable, if nothing has more validity than anything else, there is no foundation, no base from which to proceed, no truth, and ultimately, no morality.”

Miriam links what she regards as postmodernism’s “being cavalier with truth and reality,” to the social/political responsibility of the artist. I was reminded of the time I took a video course at Ryerson, when it was still a technical college. On the first day of class, the instructor showed us the film Triumph of the Will, by Leni Riefenstahl. He introduced it as a technical masterpiece, a perfect blend of form and content. He did not mention the context in which the film was made, nor that Riefenstahl worked closely with Hitler. When the film was over, I asked about the Nazi connection and was told that it was not relevant, and that the film stood on its own as a brilliant piece of work. The context in which it was made, and for whom it was made, did not matter. Miriam Himmelfarb would call this being cavalier with truth and reality.

Burstow pierces the shadows of Aushwitz with a sharply focused feminist lens. She exposes the gendered oppression that drove relations between women and men in the camps, and between girls and their brothers when a family decided which child would be sent to freedom. As Miriam’s mother tells her: “Men take up room, Miriam. More than their share. It’s always been. I’m hoping maybe your generation can do something about it…. Meydeleh, you will push them away if they overstep, yes?” This evocation of a call for women’s liberation takes place within the four walls of the Himmelfarb house on Lippincott where the terrible memories of Auschwitz collide with past and present family secrets and hidden truths. Miriam’s mother puts it best: “We find ways to make peace with the stuff of our lives and we want to believe that those ways will work forever, but…”

In The House On Lippincott, Burstow weaves a complex tapestry of past and present social and political issues, and presents them through the voices of the people in her story. Her characters sometimes seem to be too much at the service of the author, speaking in her voice instead of their own. It is also true that, with so many issues presented, some are developed with more depth than others. However, Burstow’s own deepest concerns, questions, and understandings are presented with passion, integrity and a sense of urgency.COT...

NAOMI BINDER WALL is a feminist anti-racism/anti-oppression educator, writer, and community worker and activist. She has published book, film, and art reviews, as well as numerous articles concerned with social and political issues impacting women. Naomi is a member of the Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation and the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid.

Published in the Nov./Dec. 2006 issue of Outlook: Canada’s Progressive Jewish Magazine. Reprinted with permission.

 
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