Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Review: Not Our Kind by Kitty Zeldis

Title: Not Our Kind
Author: Kitty Zeldis
Published: September 2018, Harper
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Author via Publisher

With echoes of The Rules of Civility and The Boston Girl, a compelling and thought-provoking novel set in postwar New York City, about two women—one Jewish, one a WASP—and the wholly unexpected consequences of their meeting

One rainy morning in June, two years after the end of World War II, a minor traffic accident brings together Eleanor Moskowitz and Patricia Bellamy. Their encounter seems fated: Eleanor, a teacher and recent Vassar graduate, needs a job. Patricia’s difficult thirteen-year-old daughter Margaux, recovering from polio, needs a private tutor.

Though she feels out of place in the Bellamys’ rarefied and elegant Park Avenue milieu, Eleanor forms an instant bond with Margaux. Soon the idealistic young woman is filling the bright young girl’s mind with Shakespeare and Latin. Though her mother, a hat maker with a little shop on Second Avenue, disapproves, Eleanor takes pride in her work, even if she must use the name “Moss” to enter the Bellamys’ restricted doorman building each morning, and feels that Patricia’s husband, Wynn, may have a problem with her being Jewish.

Invited to keep Margaux company at the Bellamys’ country home in a small town in Connecticut, Eleanor meets Patricia’s unreliable, bohemian brother, Tom, recently returned from Europe. The spark between Eleanor and Tom is instant and intense. Flushed with new romance and increasingly attached to her young pupil, Eleanor begins to feel more comfortable with Patricia and much of the world she inhabits. As the summer wears on, the two women’s friendship grows—until one hot summer evening, a line is crossed, and both Eleanor and Patricia will have to make important decisions—choices that will reverberate through their lives.

Gripping and vividly told, Not Our Kind illuminates the lives of two women on the cusp of change—and asks how much our pasts can and should define our futures.

My thoughts:  I had the delightful honor of meeting Kitty Zeldis last spring before her book was published at an informal happy hour in NYC with a few book bloggers and authors when I was there during Book Expo and I so enjoyed briefly chatting with her. She offered to have her book sent to me and I was delighted...it sounded so good - and it was!

Right away, I felt pulled into the story that Kitty tells about these two women living in NYC right after the war. I think that is what is most unique about this book - it's not a story told during the war, but right after and you feel the effects of that, of how the world is still coming to terms with that and recovering from it. These two women, Eleanor Moskowitz and Patricia Bellamy, couldn't be more different from each other, yet they have so much to learn from each other. 

The characters are so complex and vivid, and you are immediately drawn to them. The issues that are brought up make you think while you watch these women navigate the challenges that life presents them. Life certainly wasn't easy back then for a single woman, let alone a married one.

This was such an engaging, thought-provoking story and one that I did not want to end. I fell in love with these characters and as much as I wanted to see where they were going to end up, I also wanted to savor my time with them - I wanted to keep reading, but at the same time, I only wanted to read a chapter at a time - such a dilemma to have!



  1. Kristin, this after-war novel sounds engrossing and impressive. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it a great deal, and that you met the author at Book Expo. Another wonderful review!

  2. Oh this sounds good and this is my favorite time period for historical fiction!


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