Kaaterskill Falls

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Published by: Delta
Release Date: October 21, 2009
Pages: 336
ISBN13: 978-0385323901


In 1976 the tiny upstate New York town of Kaaterskill is bustling with summer people in dark coats, fedoras, and long modest dresses.   Living side by side with Yankee year rounders, they are the disciples of Rav Elijah Kirshner.  Elizabeth Shulman is a restless wife and mother of five daughters; her imagination transcends her cloistered community.  Across the street Andras Melish is drawn to Kaaterskill by his adoring older sisters.  Comforted, yet crippled by his sisters' love, he cannot overcome the ambivalence he feels toward his own children and his young wife.  At the top of the hill, Rav Kirshner is nearing the end of his life.  As he struggles to decide which of his sons should succeed him—the pious but stolid Isaiah or the brilliant but rebellious Jeremy—his followers wrestle with their future and their past.  With this community, Allegra Goodman weaves magic.


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“Kaaterskill Falls continues where [Goodman’s] last book, The Family Markowitz, left off—and then goes further, cutting new ground. 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.”
—Daphne Merkin, The New York Times Book Review

“Admirably rich in nuance and detail, Kaaterskill Falls sets out to compose an entire tapestry, and certainly in its gradually realized world of interrelated friends and neighbors, it succeeds.”
—The Boston Globe

“Like Jane Austen, Goodman locates the universal in the quiet doings of small, honeycomb societies, deftly tailoring the particulars of her characters to generic moments of self-awareness.”

“[Goodman] writes with such winning grace, such deftly evocative intimacy of detail.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“A delight, stem to stern . . . Goodman has often been singled out for her eye, which like Arnold Bennett’s or Vermeer’s never loses a significant detail or blurs its focus . . . This young Mozart of Jewish fiction has pulled off another major feat.”

“A carefully observed and haunting novel . . . Like the late Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, Goodman wrings ineffable strands of passion from the quietest of hopes and disappointments.”

“[An] inventive first novel . . . Goodman’s writing is nuanced, graced with subtle imagery and flashes of insight.”
—USA Today

“A writer of uncommon clarity and grace . . . Goodman’s handling of incident is masterly.”
—The New Yorker

“To call this a Jewish novel, or even a religious novel would be to simplify it unfairly.Kaaterskill Falls reads like a realist novel from a century or more ago. Goodman’s clear writing recalls Fielding, Austen, Balzac, Tolstoy. The book also recalls the tradition of landscape in American writing: Emerson’s sublime nature, Thoreau’s woods, Emily Dickinson’s slant of light.”
—The San Diego Tribune

“In Kaaterskill Falls” [Goodman] creates a world that envelops the reader . . . A talented writer who crafts beautiful sentences, Goodman makes us think and laugh.”
—The Jewish Week

“An old-fashioned, quiet, complicated story . . . the kind of story that matters. The kind you have to read for yourself.”
—The Miami Herald

“After two acclaimed short-story collections, Allegra Goodman has written a novel,Kaaterskill Falls, and it’s been worth the wait.”
—Harper’s Bazaar

“A remarkable achievement . . . With insight, affection, and gentle humor, Goodman builds her narrative with scenes of marital relationships, domestic routines, generational conflict, new love and old scandals . . . Her tenderly ironic understanding of human needs, ambitions and follies, of the stress between unbending moral laws and turbulent personal aspirations, gives the narrative perspective and balance. In knitting the minutiae of individual lives into the fabric of community, she produces a vibrant story of good people accommodating their spiritual and temporal needs to the realities of contemporary life. She does so with the virtuosic assurance of a prose stylist of the first rank.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Allegra Goodman transports us to a sealed, antique world in the heart of modern New York . . . Thanks to her flowing, lyrical style and deft characterizations, Kaaterskill Falls is a compellingly human—and theological—drama.”
—Daily News (New York)

Kaaterskill Falls is a kind of heaven . . . complex and brilliant. . . . Allegra Goodman has not so much created a world as given us entry into one that, for many, will seem almost unimaginably foreign. But Goodman’s talent runs so deep that to step into it is to live there for a while.”
—Mary Cantwell, Vogue

“Goodman’s portrait of the Rav is a marvel of research and imagination, a fascinating multifaceted profile of power and rigidity based on utter devotion to Jewish law and prayer . . . Kaaterskill Falls is a different, surprising kind of Jewish novel . . . one that isn’t afraid to both question and embrace Yiddishkeit and spirituality.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“[Goodman] creates a world that gives the natural wonder of Kaaterskill Falls its full due. In short, occasions to admire the shape and ring of her sentences abound . . . Few putatively ‘Jewish novels’ manage the tricky business of giving equal weight to substance and style.Kaaterskill Falls does—and does so brilliantly.”
—The Washington Post Book World

“An elegant portrait of orthodox Jewish life in the modern world.”
—The Forward

“A stunning story . . . As warm and knowing as her acclaimed story collection, The Family Markowitz.

“Eloquent . . . Kaaterskill Falls ratifies the achievement of the author's short stories, even as it announces the debut of a gifted novelist.”
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“A Richly Textured Portrait . . .  Not since Chaim Potok's The Chosen have readers been treated to such an intimate look at a closed orthodox community.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

“A glorious tapestry.  Ever line in this marvelous creation rings true.”
Philadelphia Inquirer