"" The Relentless Reader: Quick Thoughts on Beyond the Pale by Elana Dykewomon

September 19, 2013

Quick Thoughts on Beyond the Pale by Elana Dykewomon



Beyond the Pale by Elana Dykewomon
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication Date: First published in 1997 by Raincoast Books
Categories: Historical, Jewish, LGBT

Description:

Winner of the Lambda Literary Award and the Ferro-Grumley Award: A beautiful novel about the strength of love and personal perseverance during the political fervor of the Progressive Era
Set in Russia and New York during the early twentieth century, Beyond the Pale follows the lives of two women born in a Russian-Jewish settlement who immigrate to New York’s Lower East Side. Gutke Gurvich is a midwife who travels to America with her partner, a woman passing as a man. Their story crosses with that of Chava Meyer, a girl who was attended by Gutke at her birth and was later orphaned during the Kishinev pogrom of 1903. Chava immigrates with the family of her cousin Rose, and the two girls begin working at fourteen as they live through the oppression and tragedies of their time. They grow to become lovers, which leads them to search for a community they can truly call their own.
Touching on the hallmarks of the Progressive Era—the Women’s Trade Union League, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, anarchist and socialist movements, women’s suffrage, anti-Semitism—Dykewomon’s Beyond the Pale is a richly detailed and moving story, offering a glimpse into a world that is often overlooked.
My Very Quick Thoughts:

I feel honored to have read Beyond the Pale. It was rich, engrossing, painful, powerful, and gorgeous.

“Like so many of the bits of conversation I recall, the meanings hidden in childhood only become clear now that I write them down. Most were just small lessons, people trying to prove their virtue to each other, but because I wasn't supposed to be listening, I made things out to be more important than they were. Maybe that's why our childhoods seem so big, so resonant, while our adult years slip by like fish in the river Byk.” 

This book is an out-and-out tour de force. There's no way that I can recommend it highly enough.

Read an excerpt from Beyond the Pale here.

About Elana

19 comments:

  1. Wow!! Such a high recommendation from you! It sounds as if a lot is going on in it but if you liked it so much, maybe I should pay attention ;)

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    1. It was so so so GOOD!! You should totally pay attention ;)

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  2. I've been really into novels set during the Progressive Era this year. I'll have to add this one to my list, especially since you enjoyed it so much!

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    1. I can't recommend it enough girl! I really think you'll love it!

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  3. I hadn't heard about this book but it sounds fabulous. Glad to hear that you recommend it.

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    1. An incredible read, 5 stars for sure :D

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  4. Beyond the Pale sounds amazing. This is not an era I know much about. Thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. It's a great era to learn about! Especially if you learn from this book :D

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  5. I'm such a geek for early 20th century history, especially women's history, so this sounds fabulous.

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    1. You'd be bonkers for this one Shannon :D Geek out!

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  6. Sounds fabulous! Kind of like... If we followed what happened to the young daughters in Fiddler on the Roof into their American lives... Fascinating!

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    1. YES! What a great way to put it! :D

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  7. You've used the word that came to mind after that summary, engrossing. It sounds it. The story and the era together.

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    1. Fantastic writing, fantastic story, fantastic characters. :) You can't go wrong!

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  8. Because I love your blog I have nominated you for a Shine On Award see the link here: http://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/the-shine-on-award/

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  9. Great review - I hadn't seen this one around and I'm glad you brought it to my attention. It's definitely one I'll be reading.

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    1. I can't say enough about this book Lisa. It's simply incredible :D

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  10. Thanks for the high recommendation, I will check out the book on goodreads!

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    1. I hope you end up reading it Melinda. I think everyone in the world should ;)

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