Summary and book reviews of Kaaterskill Falls by Allegra Goodman

Kaaterskill Falls

By Allegra Goodman

Kaaterskill Falls
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  • Hardcover: Aug 1998,
    324 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 1999,
    324 pages.

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Book Summary

In Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman, author of The Family Markowitz turns her pen to the intimate details of a close-knit Jewish summer community in the Catskills. Goodman's deft sense of character brings alive an appealing and engrossing cast, fleshed out by nuances of place and time.

The synagogue is crowded with men, and warm despite the November chill outside. When Isaac arrives for services on Friday evening, he sees neighbors and friends all clustered together in the entryway. The Kollel students are coming in from the little chapel where they study. Dressed alike in their rumpled black suits, carrying their great black-bound books, they pass through the crowd into the main sanctuary where the older men are arriving, businessmen coming from downtown, the storekeepers from the neighborhood, the retired grandfathers. Young and old mix together, and their languages mix: English and German, a little Hebrew, a little Yiddish. Isaac does not notice the mixture; he grew up with it, and he understands all the languages equally.

"Did you hear that the Rav is holding his office hours again?"

"No, I didn't know."

"He's holding them on Tuesdays again."

"The same hours?"

"Yes. Of course, he's limiting his visitors, but baruch hashem, he&...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!


The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Allegra Goodman's Kaaterskill Falls. We hope they will enrich your understanding of this wonderful novel of faith, families, and ancient tradition--a story of passionate love and passionate conflict that confirms Goodman as one of the singular writers of her generation.

It is the summer of 1976. In the beautiful country of upstate New York lies Kaaterskill, a tiny town where Jewish Orthodox summer people and Yankee year-rounders live side by side from June to August. Elizabeth Shulman, mother of five daughters, needs a project of her own outside her cloistered community. Across the street, Andras Melish cannot ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
People Magazine

Like the late Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, Goodman wrings ineffable strands of passion from the quietest of hopes and disappointments. It is a carefully observed and haunting world.

The New York Times Book Review.

There are times when one wishes for some passion--some unholy mess or some desperate humor--to erupt from the pages, but the darker impulses are not what interest Goodman. Indeed, she prefers the broad strokes of a panoramic view to the fine shadings of character. Her truest talent is for imposing a shape on the little, everyday disturbances that distract most of her writing peers; she has an almost 19th-century ability to create a sense of linkage, of one existence impinging on the next.

People Magazine

Like the late Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, Goodman wrings ineffable strands of passion from the quietest of hopes and disappointments. It is a carefully observed and haunting world.

Wall Street Journal

Allegra Goodman is a prodigy. . . .She writes with such winning grace, such deftly evocative intimacy of detail.

Wall Street Journal

Allegra Goodman is a prodigy. . . .She writes with such winning grace, such deftly evocative intimacy of detail.

Reader Reviews
Katerine T.

Great read
Surprised to find that there are no other reviews for this book. I really enjoyed Kaaterskill Falls. I felt that the character development was fantastic- I felt a lot of sympathy for the sisters. I learned a lot about the more conservative ...   Read More

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