It's July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday. The family has gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings, an intrepid journalist and adventurer who was killed on that day in 2004, while on assignment in Iraq.
The parents, Marilyn and David, are adrift in grief. Their forty-year marriage is falling apart. Clarissa, the eldest sibling and a former cello prodigy, has settled into an ambivalent domesticity and is struggling at age thirty-nine to become pregnant. Lily, a fiery-tempered lawyer and the family contrarian, is angry at everyone. And Noelle, whose teenage years were shadowed by promiscuity and school expulsions, has moved to Jerusalem and become a born-again Orthodox Jew. The last person to see Leo alive, Noelle has flown back for the memorial with her husband and four children, but she feels entirely out of place. And Thisbe? - Leo's widow and mother of their three-year-old son - has come from California bearing her own secret.
Set against the backdrop of Independence Day and the Iraq War, The World Without You is a novel about sibling rivalries and marital feuds, about volatile women and silent men, and, ultimately, about the true meaning of family.
Here, she says, Ill get you a sweater. Shes barely done speaking before shes taking the stairs two at a time, her espadrilles clomping against the peeling wood, transporting her down the long hallway. Its July and twilight comes late, so even now, at nine oclock, the last of the sun still colors the sky, but inside the house the corridors are dark and shes neglected to illuminate the antique standing lamp at the top of the stairs as if to reflect an inner austerity. Its their country house, but like their apartment in the city the hallway runs through it, an endless spine, which she traverses now, past the Kathe Kollwitz etchings and the street map of Paris and the photographs of her and Davids grandparents staring down at them on opposite sides of the wall from another continent and century. She moves with such purpose (dogged, implacable: those are the words David uses to describe her) that when she reaches ...
Some of the recent comments posted about The World Without You. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
Amram and Noelle, in contrast, struggle professionally. How does this affect their relationship with the rest of the family and their high-powered jobs?
I think that Noelle and Amran compare themselves to the rest of her family and find themselves lacking. Therefore, they tend to be defensive of their lifestyle. The rest of the family is more self-confident and do not need to do this comparing. ... - bettyt
Are there better and worse ways to mourn?
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, we all do it in our own ways. The characters in this story exemplify this. We don't have to like how they do it but boy they sure do it on their own ways - janen
Do you agree with Noelle’s decision?
No, I agree with most of the other posts. She sure could have found food to eat in this country. I'm there are kosher grocery stores in NY ! By doing this she kept herself apart from her family which she clearly wanted to be a part of. It also ... - janen
How do sibling relationships change as people get older? Are some siblings simply not meant to get along?
Siblings, being individuals, are going to have their own unique personality. And with any relationship there will be personalities that just do not get along. This is not saying they were not "meant" to get along, just that their personalities do ... - bettyt
How successful is Joshua Henkin at writing from the perspective of women?
I actually think he was great at writing from the perspective of women. The women seem to be more fleshed out characters then the men. That was actually a thought that struck me as I was writing. I thought he captured the feeling of siblings, ( 3 ... - mary annb
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