Saturday, January 26, 2013

by Wendy Lawless

Wendy Lawless and her sister, Robin, grew up with a not-so-normal "mother" (parenting skills were virtually nil with this chick). Georgann Rea loved mink, wore Pucci clothing, had Louis-Vuitton luggage, and always had a lit Dunhill in her cigarette holder. She liked anything in pants and went through men like a box of tissues. Georgann had two husbands and actually kidnapped the daughters away from the second one telling them (lying) that he was no longer interested in them. They took off for London on the QEII and lived in high-end townhouses where it was late night parties all of the time. Georgann craved glamour and wealth. When she would run out of money, it was off to another city to reinvent herself and continue with the same lifestyle.
By the time Wendy was seventeen, she realized that her mother was not exactly normal and was ashamed to bring anyone home. Between the excessive use of alcohol, the back-and-forth mood changes, ugly and disturbing fights, living with Georgann was chaotic. The sisters knew that they had to get out of their toxic and dangerous environment.
Chanel Bonfire is such an appropriate title for this book. Georgann was beautiful, perfumed, stylishly dressed but had a frightening dark side that smoldered. She would have been a good example for psychologists to write about. What is amazing is how the daughters survived through such turmoil.
Wendy writes with searing honesty that, at times, is funny but also sad. It grabs your interest immediately and is a quick read (two days for me). To come out normal from such a dysfunctional family and to be able to write about it without bitterness or hate is remarkable.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

by Sonia Taitz

Simon Taitz was a watchmaker. Known as a master restorer of both watches and clocks, people would come from miles around to seek him out. This skill would save him and others at Dachau. The Germans loved order and punctuality so they gave him their broken timepieces and actually respected his ability.
Gita, Simon's wife, could have been a concert-pianist had the Nazis not ruined her fledgling career. She and her mother survived the concentration camp Stutthof by pretending to be dead among the newly killed corpses when the Germans knew the allies were closing in and wanted to leave nobody alive behind.
It was within this insular environment that Sonia was born. The family lived in Washington Heights in a very small apartment. Yiddish was the language spoken at home. The Holocaust was a never-ending subject. Simon and Gita lived in the past and wanted their daughter to know what happened to their families and themselves over and over again.
Sonia wanted to live the American dream and be independent. When she finally left home to forge new adventures, Simon made her promise to always keep her faith.
There have been many books written on the Holocaust (I have certainly read the gamut) but not any, perhaps, of being the daughter of concentration camp-survivors. The love that Sonia has for her parents, in spite of all their flaws, is truly amazing. She wants them to move forward instead of constantly backwards. Sonia's experiences and the people that she meets opens her parents' eyes and helps them heal.
The Watchmaker's Daughter is extremely moving, sad, funny and gorgeously written. Sonia is quite the wordsmith. Every page is both descriptive and lyrical. I loved this book and didn't want it to end.
Very highly recommended.