The Family with Two Front Doors (2016)Anna Ciddor
Allen & Unwin, $17
Charming is a word that can only rarely be applied to a novel but in re-creating the childhood of her late grandmother, Nomi, Anna Ciddor (author of Runestone) has produced an endearing picture of 1920s Jewish family life. There are two front doors in the title because Rabbi Rabinovitch and his wife have nine children and therefore rent two apartments in the historic Polish city of Lublin. The story gives us a children’s-eye view of the ceremonies and customs of everyday life during the exciting time between the first contact with the go-between and the marriage of eldest sister, Adina. Nomi (10) is excited at being allowed to make gefilte fish and plait the challah bread dough, while mischievous Yakov (8) is constantly on the brink of domestic disaster.
It is a blessing to have an account that celebrates the spiritual warmth, simple joys, and ancient traditions that were swept away by the Holocaust. The author’s illustrations add to the charm.
Note: this review originally appeared in Fairfax Newspapers on 21 March 2016.