Moll Flanders in America, this epic, intimate novel follows a young Russian immigrant determined to make her way—and find her daughter—in the hip, harsh 1920s.
On a morning in 1924, a young woman rises from the floor of her family's small home in Belorussia to find her parents and her husband slaughtered beside her and her infant daughter, Sophie, missing. When her aunt tells her the baby is dead, Lillian emigrates to America. She is working as a seamstress at the Yiddish Theater and enjoying café society when a cousin arrives and insists that her daughter is still alive—in Siberia.
Lillian cannot stop dreaming of Sophie; she feels she must get to Russia, yet she can't afford the passage. Her only friend, an actor turned tailor, steals atlases from the New York Public Library and sews them into an overcoat for her. She crosses North America by rail, truck, and foot, encountering drifters, wardens, pimps, missionaries, and tattoo artists. From Dawson City, Alaska, she sets sail for Russia. She falls in love, falls in with the wrong people, leaps before she looks, hopes hard, and refuses to give up.
Inspired by a true story, Away is Moll Flanders in America and Odysseus in the Jazz Age: big, wide, brilliantly imagined, unexpectedly funny, and unforgettable.
great reader does not a great book make
I was disappointed in this book which promised far more than it delivered. The main character was interesting but her journey was for the most part superficially told rather than the hype which said it was deeply emotional and I really didn't get much detail of her American journey only the beginning and the end. I only write this to say lower your expectations it's just okay, not bad but not great.
Not up to her usual snuff
I've read, I think, everything in book form by Bloom. She can be a terrific writer of either fiction or nonfiction. As soon as I saw her new book in the store, I snatched it up (the book, not the audio) without hesitation, even in hardcover. Alas, no one hits a homer every time. The narrative seemed to wander without much sense of direction, taking some time off in the middle for a little "lesbians in prison" diversion, which I found irrelevant and distracting (not offensive, though). That being said, there are haunting portrayals of the people the heroine leaves behind in New York, and lines that are worth the trudge, truly. But I'm used to Bloom having a grand vision that she conveys with grace and power, and I found this book to lack that. Start with Even a Blind Man, or Come to Me, and Bloom will knock your socks off. She seems to be taking a breather here, trying to learn new steps.
Enjoyed every moment
I am sad to see so many poor reviews. Bloom's Away is an incredibly engaging epic tale--stirring, often humorous, yet always keeping one eye on the tragic. The characters Lillian encounters are memorable, quirky and vivid--especially her portrayal of those in the Yiddish theater in the early part of the book. Bloom's prose is beautiful, and her details are striking. Never once was I bored or disappointed from the first word until the book’s moving last line. I cherish the time I spent with this book.