With echoes of Rules of Civility and The Boston Girl, a compelling and thought-provoking novel set in postwar New York City, about two women—one Jewish, one a WASP—and the wholly unexpected consequences of their meeting.
One rainy morning in June, two years after the end of World War II, a minor traffic accident brings together Eleanor Moskowitz and Patricia Bellamy. Their encounter seems fated: Eleanor, a teacher and recent Vassar graduate, needs a job. Patricia’s difficult thirteen-year-old daughter Margaux, recovering from polio, needs a private tutor.
Though she feels out of place in the Bellamys’ rarefied and elegant Park Avenue milieu, Eleanor forms an instant bond with Margaux. Soon the idealistic young woman is filling the bright young girl’s mind with Shakespeare and Latin. Though her mother, a hat maker with a little shop on Second Avenue, disapproves, Eleanor takes pride in her work, even if she must use the name "Moss" to enter the Bellamys’ restricted doorman building each morning, and feels that Patricia’s husband, Wynn, may have a problem with her being Jewish.
Invited to keep Margaux company at the Bellamys’ country home in a small town in Connecticut, Eleanor meets Patricia’s unreliable, bohemian brother, Tom, recently returned from Europe. The spark between Eleanor and Tom is instant and intense. Flushed with new romance and increasingly attached to her young pupil, Eleanor begins to feel more comfortable with Patricia and much of the world she inhabits. As the summer wears on, the two women’s friendship grows—until one hot summer evening, a line is crossed, and both Eleanor and Patricia will have to make important decisions—choices that will reverberate through their lives.
Gripping and vividly told, Not Our Kind illuminates the lives of two women on the cusp of change—and asks how much our pasts can and should define our futures.
“Drenched in rich and colorful prose, Zeldis portrays interpersonal relationships in a time and place framed in prejudice. Not Our Kind speaks to everyone, no matter what ‘kind’ you are.” — The Jewish Voice (Philadelphia)
“Masterfully transports readers to 1947 New York to depict the relationships that develop between a young Jewish woman and a Protestant family. . . . Lively descriptions of 1940s clothing and culture complement the realistic characters. This is a vivid, winning novel.” — Publishers Weekly
“A young Jewish teacher and a WASPy married woman find an unexpected connection in post-World War II New York. . . . A compelling tale of friendship, class, prejudice, and love.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Zeldis uses the rich details of post-war New York—the music, the clothes, the cocktails—to tell the story of two women looking for fulfillment.” — Booklist
“Let the glorious period details wash all over you—the clothes, the glamour, the excitement of New York, circa 1947. But the most remarkable achievement in NOT OUR KIND is the complex relationship between women from two different worlds that Kitty Zeldis expertly explores. The questions and prejudices that each woman has to confront are issues we are still exploring today, which makes this novel timely as well as entertaining.” — Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Girls in the Picture
“Kitty Zeldis has a gift for making even the smallest details of the past shine with vivid color. The story she tells in NOT OUR KIND—of two women in post-World War II New York trying to forge lives of integrity and purpose—resonates with the struggles of women today. Compelling, frank, and all too real, NOT OUR KIND kept me reading long into the night.” — Lauren Belfer, National Jewish Book Award-winning author of And After the Fire