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The Two-Family House

by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman X
The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman
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There are currently 24 member reviews
for The Two-Family House
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  • Julie M. (Maple Grove, MN)
    Two Families-One Fateful Decision
    This was a wonderful read about two families living almost as one. Characters were well developed and the story had it all. Family dynamics, secrets, love, jealousy and heartbreak. A split second decision made by two mothers on a snowy night has lasting repercussions and change both families forever. Great book to curl up with on a rainy or snowy day and get lost in these two families lives.
  • Jan K. (San Francisco, CA)
    Two Marriages From Another Era
    Two brothers and their families share a two-story Brooklyn brownstone during the 1950s. The first part of "Two Family House" finds the mothers have become like sisters since moving in; both care for their home, manage their children, share everything and prepare a hot dinner each night (Sunday pot roast dinners, etc.) The prologue establishes the theme with an incident that is kept a "secret" until near the novel's end. The reader will know immediately what the mystery is, but the secret does serve to explain the estrangement between the formerly close wives. This estrangement propels most of the novel.

    There are many readers who will enjoy this chaste novel about women and friendship (the entire book flows quite nicely with absolutely no scenes involving sex or violence, unusual in an adult novels these days - I didn't miss it).

    This story about Jewish families incorporates some of the culture and tradition, but will not challenge the reader. This isn't meant to be negative criticism - for its genre, the novel is well done. Most of the characters are believable, even vivid, particularly Mort the husband/father who is considered to be "difficult." This is the 1950s and there were differences in the way children were raised, even by very loving parents – most kids raised in the middle-classes did as they were told. They still suffered emotional neglect and developed the same internal conflicts all kids do at some point. For example, one daughter is exceptionally bright and her quest for a college education is handled interestingly.

    There were times when I felt as though the estrangement focused theme was an overreaction until I was reminded of the era. Women believed they needed to keep the family together at all costs, dismissing their own emotional pain. Women didn't expect to see a therapist when there was conflict; instead the 1950s woman held any frustration within and tried to carry on.

    I distinctly recall my own mother telling me that "I wouldn't have made it" as an adult in the 1950s. She went on to say that I would have been divorced or committed "to a home somewhere." We've laughed about this at the time. While I would say I was a well-raised girl, I am outspoken. As I read the novel I inserted my own mother into the different roles presented and realized exactly how she would have lived through the same experiences. Perhaps, you too will see glimpses of your own mother.
  • Eve A. (Henderson, NV)
    The Two Story House
    This is the story of two brothers, their wives and children who share a two story house. Early on it was very obvious to me where the story was going but it was interesting to see how the author carried the story forward. The adults dominated the story and we never got to know the children and their personalities till later in the book. I would have liked to read more about them. I think there could be a lot to talk about in this book in a book club. It was a quick and easy read and it held my interest as the families navigated life in the best way they could.
  • Barbara H
    The Two-Family House was an enjoyable, relaxing read after some other more complex assignments. Although the secret which ruled the actions of the characters was identified by the reader early on, the effects were heartbreaking throughout the book. I would have liked more development of the relationships between characters. By the chapter organization of one person at a time, many family dynamics were obscured. The events of the time and place were effective in describing a way many families did live fifty or so years ago in terms of sharing a two-family house.

    All in all, an easy, enjoyable, and mildly thought-provoking novel.
  • Kathy K. (ME)
    Fantastic Family Saga
    The Two-Family House is a masterfully written novel of family, relationships, and the repercussions of life events on many individuals. In another author's hands, the plot of The Two-Family House could have felt convoluted or strained, but Loigman lays a strong groundwork with spare prose and complex characters that read like real people. The reader is quickly drawn in by how familiar the characters feel, and the shifting perspectives strengthen the novel and the themes, representing how one decision can affect many individuals in diverse ways. Also, while this is a historical novel set in the late 1940s to early 1970s, readers of contemporary fiction will still enjoy the richly drawn characters and their complicated family life. This is a wonderful debut novel - I hope that Loigman writes many more as I was sad to finish this one.
    While the writing does not necessarily resemble Elizabeth Strout's, Loigman's ability to create believable characters and complex relationships resonates in a similar way to Olive Kitteridge.
  • Mary Margaret F. (North Venice, FL)
    The Two-Family House
    Although the prologue alerted me to the main thread of the story, I thought that this was a good read.
    While some of the characters were not fully developed, the main characters were engaging. It was easy to like Helen and Abe; it was easy to hope that Mort and Rose would find some happiness. Natalie and Judith highlighted the younger generation and a sequel would be most welcome.
  • Cheri S. (Newburgh, IN)
    The Nature of Love
    Love is the most complex of all emotions, in my humble opinion, and that is made abundantly evident in The Two-Family House. Lynda Cohen Loigman takes us on a masterful journey into the relationships of two brothers, their wives, children and extended family, which, on the surface seems to be very simple and matter-of-fact. And for a day or so after I finished reading it, I thought that it was just that - a simple novel about a family with issues.

    But I was wrong. I couldn't stop thinking about those people - how they thought and felt, and how they behaved, as a result of one feeling: love. Each character in Loigman's creation goes through gut-wrenchingly difficult situations, either prior to when we meet them or throughout the time we are privy to their reality. Choices are made by parents and siblings that effect every generation named in the book as well as those that will follow. And despite the fact that so many of those choices are made out of love, painful difficulties ensue and lives are complicated and very often, damaged in major ways.

    As it is in life, we are not aware of the circumstances that were someone's reality before we are born or before we encounter them and it is so in this book. The parents of Abe, Mort, Helen and Rose are not part of the cast of characters but they play a strategically impactful role in each character's story line. And as it is in life, one would like to think that all parent's actions/decisions are unselfish and come from unconditional love for their children – but that is not universally true and again, in my opinion, definitely not the case in this book. And the way in which Lynda Cohen Loigman goes about revealing this to us has made me realize that this author has a very special gift – she removes you from wherever you are at the moment you begin The Two-Family House and takes you on a venture into exploring the truly complex nature of love.

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