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Bend in the Road by Jeanne Barrack

Bend in the Road is a two stories anthology, but it's really only a book since the two stories are strictly connected.

In the Lion's Den Aryeh Nachman is the bastard son of a wealthy man who provided for him till his twenty-one year and then left him alone in the world. Truth be told, Aryeh was just alone in the world, having left his home in England at eighteen years old when his unrequited but returned love for his tutor gave him no chance: his tutor was from Poland, and after spending five years with Aryeh and realized that he loved the man, he decided to return back home and married. Since to Aryeh was never denied anything, this refusal didn't set well with the young man, and he spent the following years searching for the love he was denied; from careless rake with his father's money to kept man for wealthy and older women, Aryeh is now without money and a roof and he accepts the offer of a traveling Yiddish theater troupe. Here he meets Danaleh, a very young and very innocent man, but even if innocent, and very much virgin, Danaleh knows that he is not interested in woman, on the contrary he is very much drawn to the handsome Aryeh. Even if Aryeh is not much older than Danaleh, he is very much more experienced and he doesn't want to taint Danaleh with his "filthy" desires. But if he only knew that Danaleh, with his naivete and innocence, is more than eager to be the heroine in Aryeh's dreams, in fact Danaleh has a penchant to dress as a woman, a thing he can only realize when he is on stage, but that he would so like to do also in private, with Aryeh.

In From Stage to Stage is the story of talented musician Yuval Smolenski, the other member of the troupe who has more interest in men than women, but as for Aryeh and Danaleh, it's not simple for him to find a soul mate. He travels with his sister, a grown woman with mental problem who behaves like a child, and Yuval, even if interested, would never marry and leave her alone. And so he is content with the few hush encounters he can snatch in anonymous cities. But being Jewish and gay is becoming more and more dangerous, for a reason or another. Then, while rehearsing for a big marriage during which they will perform, he meets Tsvi, a big man with the face of a monster and the voice of an angel. Also Tsvi is hiding, but more his preferences for men, he is hiding his religious origins: he is a member of the Chassidim, an ultra religious sect of Judaism, and he has some reason why he doesn't want for it to be known. But when he sings, his origins are very much clear, since he sings like he is making love with God, and Yuval can't help to love him as well, despite his external looks.

For complete different reason, both couples don't consider themself worthy of love: Aryeh probably believes to be tainted, Danaleh to be too simple, Yuval consider a problem his religion and Tsvi is running away from his sense of guilty. All of them will find shelter and a new family in the traveling theatre troupe, and around them history will have its course, making the novel quite fascinating and really interesting for the history lovers. Part of this fascination is also due to the very detailed and researched work that the author obviously made: the Jewish culture and way of life of the end of the nineteen century is described in such details that even if you are not familiar with the words and the customs, you will find yourself immersed in them... and if you have some problems, well there is a very helpful glossary at the end of the book!

http://www.mlrpress.com/ShowBook.php?book=JBBEND01

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Feb. 21st, 2009 06:13 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading about my guys, Elisa. I'm so glad you enjoyed their stories.
elisa_rolle
Feb. 21st, 2009 09:04 am (UTC)
You are welcome Jeanne. I like the historical romance and so I was more than happy that you wrote one. Elisa
(Anonymous)
Feb. 21st, 2009 08:10 am (UTC)
Details
I like details, especially when story is set in time of history I know little about.

Of the many descriptions of characters that make me want to buy this book, this one is my favorite, Elisa: you speak of Tsvi, and you say he sings like he is making love with God. I love that! Thank you.

Jardonn Smith
elisa_rolle
Feb. 21st, 2009 09:06 am (UTC)
Re: Details
Tsvi is a very troubled man but with a pure soul, and so when he is singing, he is totally open and ready to reach for God. Elisa
jbarrack2
Feb. 21st, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Details
I truly appreciate how well you understood my characters, Elisa. That is exactly right.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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