Set in postwar New York City in 1947, Not Our Kind is an intriguing novel about women’s roles, love, family, motherhood and misogyny ... 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.
In its triangulated focus on a socialite mother, a Jewish teacher, and a disabled student all trying to come to terms with life narratives that deviate from previously taken-for-granted norms, Not Our Kind tackles these questions in an historical novel that resonates in contemporary Trumpian America ... Tensions around sexual desire and sexual violence also connect the women in this story and exemplify the complexities of the contemporary #MeToo movement. When Wynn Bellamy, Patricia’s husband and Margaux’s doting father, assaults Eleanor, Patricia initially stands by her man and is complicit in blaming the alien Jewish victim. The development of Henryka, the servant...is a fascinating subplot and itself worth the read. Less successful is Eleanor’s relationship with her mother, Irina, who seems an odd amalgam of Jewish-mother stereotypes and beguiling hints that she has quite the story of her own. But wanting more from an already very good novel is a sure sign that it has gotten under your skin.
...The first novel from pseudonymous Zeldis uses the rich details of postwar New York—the music, the clothes, the cocktails—to tell the story of two women looking for fulfillment. For Patricia, it is with her family; for Eleanor, it is harder to define. College-educated and independent-minded, Eleanor speaks to a generation of women raised with conflicting expectations, and the somewhat-ambiguous ending suits her story perfectly.
...Zeldis paints a vivid picture of two separate New Yorks in the 1940s—Eleanor’s shabby clothes and budget meals versus Patricia’s fancy dresses and staff-prepared dinners. Their twin journeys toward independence—Eleanor’s from her mother and Patricia’s from her husband—show that no matter how much money a woman had, she was still constrained by the misogyny and stifling gender roles of the time ... A compelling tale of friendship, class, prejudice, and love.
The pseudonymous Zeldis masterfully transports readers to 1947 New York to depict the relationships that develop between a young Jewish woman and a Protestant family ... Lively descriptions of 1940s clothing and culture complement the realistic characters. This is a vivid, winning novel.