Oops! The publisher just put Union Square out of print without telling me. So if you want it, you will have to get it from the library or find a used copy. Sorry.
Taking up where her celebrated Rivington Street left off, Meredith Tax's Union Square brims over with the passions and struggles of five indomitable women: Hannah Levy, the Russian immigrant matriarch; Sarah, a communist organizer who sides with the union--and against her Bolshevik husband--in opposing the Hitler-Stalin pact; Ruby, who covertly undercuts her department store magnate husband's business with her own clothing designs; Rachel, a wealthy widow dedicated to bohemian life and the pleasures of the Jazz Age; and Rachel's sister-in-law, Tish, a lesbian expatriate who seeks sexual and artistic fulfillment in the salons of Paris and Weimar Germany.
Gutsy and engrossing, Union Square paints a complex, believable picture of the tumultuous years between the end of the First World War and the eve of the Second.
Its ambitious background notwithstanding, this hefty historical-political novel chats along in a cosy, familial tone, reducing cosmic problems to life-size proportions. The reader is tossed slam-bang into a mostly Russian-born family of socialist workers and confirmed Marxists, forced by pogroms to flee to America's lower East Side, where their political divisiveness continues. Although we follow with interest the fortunes of various inlawsamong them the Berliners, wealthy German-Jewish owners of a department storethe focus is on Hannah and Moyshe Levy and their daughter Sarah, who has married Marxist apologist Avi Spector. The ideological rift between the Levys and the Spectors widens when, at the onset of the Depression, Moyshe sides with the Bundists while Avi supports the Stalinists. As Sarah campaigns for unions and women's right to decent pay, her sister Ruby, married to Ben Berliner, becomes a force in the fashion industry. Woven into the fabric of domestic activism is the dream of a Jewish state in Palestine. At the same time, polemical art, modeled on Guernica and the Diego Rivera murals, begins to blossom and to provide an outlet for the fiercely suppressed memories of murder in the Pale. While the narrative is sometimes disjointed and the characters stereotypical, the breadth and drama of history help to create an engrossing story. (October)