The Newcomers - Lily Poritz Miller

“Across from the field when Mr. Wolfson had taken Libka lived the widow Sharon Krinsky and her daughter, Fanny, who worked as a seamstress in a local mill. They occupied the second floor of the tenement house that Mrs. Krinsky owned, and she spent most of her time looking out of the window. On the night when Mr. Wolfson pulled up in the field and turned off his engine, she watched the activity in the car through her binoculars, highlighted by a street lamp.”

Carrying on from In a Pale Blue Light, reading The Newcomers feels somewhat like turning to a Galsworthy novel, as though the family saga might unfold endlessly. But with a dash of the Sydney Taylor All-of-a-Kind Family series, for the focus is on the children in the family and the action eventually shifts from South Africa to the United States.


In this volume, the second, the focus is the daughter, Libka, whom readers have followed since her father’s death at the beginning of the first volume, through her school years and graduation. But just as the quote reveals, there is a wider ensemble cast, and readers are as likely to get details about her mother’s work in the laundry as about parked cars and untoward behaviour.


The covers, too, hint at the voice and themes; their cool colours and charcoal lines suggest that these stories are told from a distance, when passions have cooled, and both language and preoccupations are soft and controlled, neither stark nor highly emotive.


These stories reward the patient reader with a solid connection to characters followed across time and space and a desire to continue with the story in as-yet-unpublished volumes.

This review originally appeared here, on BuriedInPrint.