The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights

Harper. Dec. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9780063026346. $27.99. F
Set a century ago, this latest novel from Zeldis (Not Our Kind) tells the story of three strong women who overcome remarkable odds to find and help each other and thrive. The story begins with Catherine, newly married and joyfully anticipating starting a family. She is shattered by the loss of her baby and her fertility. A parallel narrative follows middle-aged Bea and her teenage ward, Alice. Bea has a mysterious past connection to Catherine. Over the course of the book, readers learn about Bea’s tragic early life as a Jewish person in late 19th-century Russia and Alice’s neglected background, and what both had to do to survive. The book explores the joys and potential horrors of pregnancy, and babies, both wanted or unwanted, as well as the bonds between mothers and daughters, both adopted and birth. Zeldis focuses on women’s lives and portrays the harshness of being dependent on men; the male characters vary from unrepentantly abusive to wonderfully kind, as is the case with Catherine’s husband.
VERDICT With themes of betrayal and love, followed ultimately by hope and new beginnings, Zeldis has written the type of historical fiction that book groups love, about strong women overcoming horrible situations.
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