Thursday, March 30, 2006

I've been wrong before. Why should this time be any different? I only proved myself wrong. For awhile, I didn't think I'd like Ozick's Heir to the Glimmering World. It seemed a little too similar to some recent books I've read. Of course my unfounded bias was wildly off base and I'm now an Ozick convert. Heir is part rite of passage novel; part allegory; part historical novel; all literature to the highest degree.

Rose is a young woman from upstate New York whose mother has supposedly died during child birth and whose non-caring father teaches high school Math and gambles with his own students. Rose answers an ad in a local paper to work for the Mitwisser family. Her tacit agreement to work for and live with the Mitwisser's is the turning point in her life. The tiresome, brilliant, crazy clan begin to take over her life. She feeds them, dresses them, cleans for them, but she isn't considered a nanny. All this confusion haunts Rose, but she stays on for lack of a better place to go.

Mrs. Mitwisser is a scientist who has seemingly lost touch with her family. She passes her days in bed, in a worn nightgown, spouting German to Rose. Mr. Mitwisser is a religous scholar of the ancient Karaites, a sect that has been all but forgotten. Rose is ungraciously summoned to his study at all hours to type his rants in his broken accent(for he has vowed not speak German, or allow his children to speak German.)

The children are led by the eldest sister Anneliese, a teen too mature for her age that acts as the mother of the group, ordering Rose around and caring for the children and her father.

It isn't until the mysterious James arrives that the story begins to unfold. Ozick winds the story through James's earlier life as a much doted on child and shows how he progressed to become the benefactor of the Mitwisser clan. Paying for rent, clothes, food and toys, James holds the family on a string, but only Mrs. Mitwisser and Rose are weary of his power over the brood.

I'm not finished with the book yet, but I'll hopefully be able to steal some time with the book during lunch on the Common and enjoy the first beautiful spring day. Then tonight, after work, after 12 hours of work, I'll be able to complete my entry. How coherent I'll be, I don't know, but that's never stopped me before.

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