- Hardcover: 218 pages
- Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (October 1, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670192465
- ISBN-13: 978-0670192465
- Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 72 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,490,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Brother of the More Famous Jack Hardcover – October 1, 1982
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“An unpretentious and very funny book . . . A complex and highly polished work . . . . Barbara Trapido has that rare ability to make her characters respond to small misfortunes and irritations exactly as people do.” ―New York Times
“A staggeringly competant first novel.” ―Boston Globe
“I've given . . . Brother of the More Famous Jack to dozens of people, and like me, they fall rapturously in love with Trapido's breezy, raunchy and unsentimental style.” ―Maria Semple, The New York Times
“Funny, charming, teeming with life, and real.” ―Nick Hornby, Esquire
“This is a first novel . . . but if established writers could get this good on the seventh try, readers would be the richer for it. . . . Lovely.” ―USA Today
“If you've been looking for a modern love story that shines with off-beat charm and sprightly intelligence--not to mention elegance of style--take heart. . . . This brief account cannot do justice to the wry, civilized tone and understated wit that lights up Trapido's writing.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Why did it take me so long to discover the singular joys of Barbara Trapido's novels? Why, for so many years, had I missed these witty, soulful, heartbreaking, expansive, brilliant tales? What have I been wasting my time doing? Reading books that AREN'T perfect? Never again! Since finally discovering Trapido in 2012, I have become a literary evangelist on her behalf. On account of my badgering, all my friends now love her, too. I won't rest until everyone in America has read (and fallen in love with) this fabulous author.” ―Elizabeth Gilbert--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Top customer reviews
Katherine is 18 when she applies for a place at London University studying philosophy and is interviewed by Professor Jacob Goldman who sees something in her and invites her to his rambling house. There she meets his free-spirited wife and their five children (a sixth is on the way and soon to be born). Katherine comes from a repressed, English lower middle class background and she is stunned and shocked but also attracted by the open sexuality of the professor and his wife. This is a family where a constant stream of brilliant dialogue flows between parents and children, where the oldest son Roger is a mathematics whizz and violin prodigy, where the second son Jonathan is an angry rebel who also plays the flute and subjects his parents to loving insults and where ideas flow back and forth like ping pong balls.
Katherine becomes a presence at the Goldman home, casting off her own mother. She is confidant, playmate and babysitter and also part domestic servant. She falls in love with Roger and her love is apparently returned. But Roger turns out to be a genius twerp who wants to reshape Katherine into a certain mold and when she can't fulfill his expectations casually and cynically throws her aside. Heartbroken, Katherine flees to Italy and falls in with a much older man, an even more unsuitable match doomed to end in tears. This section of the book is the least convincing. She loses touch with the Goldmans for several years. Only a tragedy will bring her back in contact -- and into a new relationship with the older and somewhat wider Jonathan.
This book is well-written and the characters are engaging and seem real. There were for me a few false notes. Jacob, we learn, is a child survivor of the Holocaust who lost his family to the Nazis. Yet he casts aside any remnant of Jewish identity, allowing his eldest son to embrace the most stuffy, English version of Anglicism without regret. I suppose this can and did happen - but it seemed false to me that a man so deeply in touch with his own mind would be so much in denial about his identity. It made Jacob for me a deeply flawed individual and I found it harder to accept him as the wise mentor the author portrays him as. Since Jacob is the heart of the book in many ways, this was a flaw.
Katherine slowly gathers strength as a character, even though to the end she seems to be somewhat passive and acted-upon. Katherine in love remains a cool, detached presence. Katherine in pain doesn't quite convince.
Despite these reservations, I did enjoy this book. The people were similar to some I have known in the intellectual Oxbridge circle and their voices sound true and authentic to me.
In the end it wasn't about very much, not a strong determining theme.
But it is definitely worth a read