A new novel — her largest and most ambitious — by the author of Low Tide, Isaac and His Devils, and When the Sons of Heaven Meet the Daughters of the Earth. In The Furies, Fernanda Eberstadt brings all her gifts of insight, feeling, and storytelling to bear on passion and the balance of power in marriage. She tells the story of a courtship of opposites, of a blissful love affair — and of how it turns into a marriage that helplessly self-destructs.
The place is Manhattan in the boom of the 1990s. Gwen Lewis thinks her life is perfect. She’s thirty, smart, high-achieving, single; she’s the director of an institute that’s helping post-Communist Russia democratize. She has family money, a condominium on the Upper West Side, and a suitable boyfriend, a banker.
Then she meets Gideon Wolkowitz. Gideon is an impoverished puppeteer who works in an anarchist squat on the Lower East Side: an impecunious sweet-talking huckster, a messianic dreamer, a seventies socialist throwback, a secular Jew. Gwen and Gideon fall desperately in love. Their sex is epic. Their love seems like a gift from the gods — destined to heal all wounds. Each is the child of a broken home; each fills the other’s unsuspected aching emptiness. The lovers hole up in Gwen’s apartment, feasting on stolen nights of ecstasy and confession.
Then Gwen gets pregnant and their romantic idyll is broken, and the angry ghosts of their ancestral pasts rise to claim them. Gwen is pulled into a Puritan devotion to work and motherhood that only a driven career woman or Massachusetts pilgrim could understand. Gideon, torn by his anger that Gwen has ended their sex life, by his native hatred of her “socialite” values and his love of the woman herself, begins to hear the call of shtetl ways and the synagogue. The reader watches helplessly as the divisive forces of money, worldly ambition, and self-will complete the shipwreck of Gwen and Gideon’s love.
A novel that wholly engages us by the depth of its understanding and the power of its storytelling.
About Fernanda Eberstadt
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Published September 9, 2003
Literature & Fiction.