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Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime: Stories Paperback – May 1, 2003

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Whether she is writing essays, as in the splendid The Night Gardener (1999), or fiction, Sandor's prose is as tangy and luscious as just-plucked fruit. In her newest work, a set of complexly sensuous, linked short stories illuminating several generations in an American Jewish family, she offers subtle insights into the perverse nature of family lore. Rachel, daughter of Abe, a nervous doctor, and Clara, an apathetic beauty, muses over her family's many secrets, beginning with signal episodes from Clara's Depression-era childhood. Then, as Sandor recounts Rachel's family's journey from muted Indiana to dazzling California just after World War II, each story is like a card turned up in solitaire, revealing some key aspect of a character's psyche while leaving much concealed. And what resplendent and resonant metaphors Sandor conjures as she dramatizes a hilarious confrontation in a rowboat, a shattering piano recital, and the peculiar eroticism of having one's portrait painted. As each family member evades, conceals, and distorts the truth, Rachel struggles to understand why, and to ascertain what exactly she is heir to. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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"Sandor has an honest imagination and shares its discoveries with skill and care."

New York Times Book Review

-- New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books; 1 edition (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1889330825
  • ISBN-13: 978-1889330822
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,120,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
One of the tricky aspects of this collection of interrelated short stories is the fact that, told from the point of view of a grown daughter looking backward, the author manages nevertheless to span some 60-70 years of time, exploring the inner thoughts of some of the characters, who most likely never revealed them to the narrator. The daughter is thus theorizing or guessing about thoughts and events - albeit it an `educated guess' most of the time - about things that not only occurred out of her sight, but in the case of some of these stories, before she was born. A formidable potential stumbling block aside, Sandor does a nice job stitching everything together - it comes across as real and believable, and at times very moving.
There are secrets kept from generation to generation in every family - sometimes they eventually come out, sometimes they remain hidden for eternity. Most of the time - revealed or not - they color the psychology and temperament of the family in which they exist. It's interesting to see, as these tales unfold in chronological order, how this happens within the family depicted here.
Sandor's prose flows along nicely - in each story, she manages to catch the mood of the times and the people within them. The characters are all pretty down-to-earth, yet each individual and unique in their own way - and they're all fairly sympathetic, which helps a great deal to draw the reader into the writing. All in all, a very nice read.
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