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Not Our Kind

Review

Not Our Kind

Set in postwar New York City in 1947, NOT OUR KIND is an intriguing novel about women’s roles, love, family, motherhood and misogyny.

Eleanor Moskowitz is a Vassar-educated, young Jewish woman who is a teacher and lives on Second Avenue with her mother, a hatmaker. Patricia Bellamy is a married, high society WASP who resides on Park Avenue and leads a privileged life. After the two meet as the result of a fender bender, they soon learn that their colliding lives and worlds couldn’t be farther apart.

Patricia invites Eleanor to her home to make sure she’s okay from the accident. There, Eleanor meets Patricia’s 13-year-old daughter, Margaux, who was struck by the polio epidemic that has left her crippled. Margaux is tutored at home and can be quite difficult at times, mostly because of the insecurities she developed from the effects of the disease and her dislike of her previous tutors. In need of a new tutor, Patricia learns that Eleanor is a teacher and hires her.

"NOT OUR KIND beautifully sums up a dynamic era while still remaining modern and timely. Zeldis has crafted a well-written, rich and compelling novel."

It is recommended to Eleanor that she change her last name from Moskowitz to Moss due to her Jewish heritage, which she reluctantly does. Patricia is worried about what her family and society friends will think when they find out she hired a Jewish woman. Despite these concerns, Patricia becomes delighted by the way Margaux is responding to Eleanor and invites her to join the family at their summer home in Connecticut to continue the tutoring sessions. However, it’s apparent that Wynn, Patricia’s husband, dislikes Eleanor because she's Jewish and makes life miserable for her.

While in the Bellamys’ employ, Eleanor meets Patricia’s brother, Tom, and the two are instantly attracted to each other. They begin an intense relationship, but Tom is a free spirit and quite unreliable. Eleanor is quickly taken with him and lets her emotions provocatively get swept away. At first, Eleanor and Patricia are polite, cordial and friendly, but their relationship starts to deteriorate as a line is crossed.

Eleanor soon learns that she can’t live with this dysfunctional family and can no longer work for them. Patricia’s life falls into disarray because of Wynn’s inappropriate behavior toward Eleanor and other indiscretions. Author Kitty Zeldis gently probes the subject of general misogyny and writes about it in a meaningful way. After Eleanor leaves, Patricia realizes their bond began with Margaux, and whatever mistreatment she or her husband inflicted on her needs to be corrected.

Zeldis not only details the role of women in the past, she superbly describes religious animosity, class division and the family dynamic, and explores what it was like living in different ethnic communities during that time period. Her description of New York City and its euphoric atmosphere allowed me to feel as if I was walking the streets of the city. I also enjoyed the character of Eleanor; a feminist before her time, she is sophisticated, quite mature for her age, and knows exactly what she wants.

NOT OUR KIND beautifully sums up a dynamic era while still remaining modern and timely. Zeldis has crafted a well-written, rich and compelling novel. I highly recommend it and look forward to more from this talented author.

Reviewed by Vivian Payton on September 7, 2018

Not Our Kind
by Kitty Zeldis

  • Publication Date: September 4, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0062844237
  • ISBN-13: 9780062844231