Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Club: Book Review of A Cobbler's Tale: A Novel

cover of A Cobbler's Tale: A Novel book

Disclaimer: I received access to the e-book for free on NetGalley in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

A Cobbler’s Tale: A Novel by Neil Perry Gordon is an intriguing look into the lives of three individuals – Pincus, Jakob, and Clara – as they navigate New York City and Poland in the early 1900s. The story introduces the reader to life in a Jewish village in Krzywcza and New York City. I really found the tale to be an interesting one as I learned more about each individual and their lives and families.

Cover of A Cobbler's Tale: A Novel and a photo of New York City

The story starts in July 1910 aboard the SS Amerika where we meet Pincus Potasznik who is seasick and his new friend, Jakob Adler. Both are Jewish and escaping persecution and trying to make a new life in America. A Cobbler’s Tale provides many details about the life of Pincus in the United States and that of his wife, Clara, in Poland. One of the groups to which we are introduced – in addition to the gangs of New York – is that of the Landsman Society of Krzywcza, which helps the newly immigrated from Pincus’ village find a job, a place to live, and provide religious assistance as well.

One of the features I liked about A Cobbler’s Tale was that everything seemed to hold a significance. Things that might only seem to have a passing importance to the story – like the meeting of the palmist Dora Meltzer – are actually more important to the plotline than they first appear. This assisted to create a tale that was woven together from the first page to the last page of the book. I most definitely wanted to see what was going to happen in each successive chapter of the book.

Clara was a strong character of A Cobbler’s Tale. She was key for keeping her family together while Pincus emigrated to America. There were many things that Clara needed to accomplish without her husband. From the birth of their last child, Anna, to keeping the cobbler’s shop running in Krzywcza with the help of Shmuel, while raising the children, Clara was kept very busy. She also handled difficulties with grace and strength.

My recommendation requires you to read a few potential spoilers. A Cobbler’s Tale: A Novel by Neil Perry Gordon is not the typical work of Christian fiction I usually review for my blog. So while I may have enjoyed it – as I really enjoy works of historical fiction and non-fiction – there may be some parts that some might find disturbing.

Warning and Potential Spoilers

There are a great number of raw details included in the story that are not normally found in books that I review for my blog. For example, there is persecution, gang warfare and violence, murder, rape, and details about war in general. Personally, the way in which Clara must ‘handle’ the police chief in Krzywcza was upsetting to me as well as that of the problems that Moshe (the son of Pincus and Clara) got into with the palmist towards the end of the book.

Even with the raw details of the story of the three characters, I do not feel disappointed in having read A Cobbler’s Tale: A Novel. I loved the little details included about life during the 1900s and felt the individuals came to life. I enjoyed the book.

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