Tuesday, October 20, 2015
I was mesmerized by Jillian Cantor's writing in her novel Margot, a reimagining of history if Anne Frank's sister Margot had survived the Holocaust. Cantor's writing is beautiful and so captivating and compelling that I wished very sincerely it was true and that Margot was indeed living a secret life in the United States.
In The Hours Count, Cantor imagines an alternate history for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were executed for espionage in 1953. Told through the perspective of Ethel's friend and neighbor Millie, the novel brings to life the era of fear and terror as people lived with the constant threat of war with Russia. Millie is young and naive and worried about her young son who still hasn't spoken a word. Her husband, Ed, a Russian Jew has only been in the United States for a few years. His thick accent makes him suspect in their neighborhood and Millie worries that he won't be able to keep his job. But then Ed begins working with Julius and Millie, desperate for friendship, tries to encourage their relationship with the Rosenbergs.
For years the guilt of the Rosenbergs has been questioned. New information has been released recently that seems to exonerate Ethel but there are still so many questions. In her novel, Cantor doesn't attempt to explain history the way it definitely was but only offers a fictional account of how it might have been. She creates fictional characters who interact with the Rosenbergs to showcase their personalities. The setting of the 1950's in the midst of the Cold War and the McCarthy search for communists is fascinating as the Russian Jews try to navigate their world of suspicion and fear.
Once again, Cantor writes with style that compels the reader to sympathize with the characters while not being able to put the book down. Millie is a fascinating character who is pushed out of her comfort zone as a wife and mother and must act to defend her friends and save her children. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I found myself searching and reading articles on the Rosenbergs so that I had a better understanding of the accusations and trials. It is a very interesting and sad period of our history and Cantor uses this to her advantage in this thrilling novel.
The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor is published by Riverhead Books and releases on October 20, 2015.
**I received a complimentary copy of The Hours Count. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**
Posted by Cindi at 2:00 AM