Title: On the Sickle’s Edge
Author: Neville D. Frankel
Release Date: 08/23/2016
About On the Sickle’s Edge
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Diálogos (January 15, 2017)
A masterful, page-turning odyssey set in Russia, Latvia, South Africa, and the United States.
“Neville Frankel’s ability to combine historical insight and human passion is spellbinding. I couldn’t put it down.”—Pamela Katz, Author of The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink
Inspired by Frankel’s own family history, this multi-generational epic holds up a mirror to a universal truth: all immigrants face the powerful tension between assimilation and cultural identity. —Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs, American Jewish Committee
With the current refugee crisis in Europe reaching a scale unknown since World War II, ON THE SICKLE’S EDGE illuminates today’s issues, even as it sheds penetrating insight from the past. A gripping family saga of border crossings and shifting identities amid the chaos of travel and resettlement, this novel has its origins in author Neville Frankel’s personal history. It is a love story, a coming of age novel, and an odyssey of love, loss and resilience.
Told through the voices of three compelling characters: the endearing, scrappy South-African born Lena, transported to Latvia and later trapped in the USSR; her granddaughter Darya, a true Communist believer whose growing disillusionment with Soviet ideology places her family at mortal risk; and Steven, a painter from Boston who inadvertently stumbles into the tangled web of his family’s past. Against the roiling backdrop of twentieth-century Russia and Eastern Europe, the novel delivers equal parts historical drama, political thriller and poignant love story. This epic tale is a powerful and inspiring testament to the human capacity for love and endurance in the face of exile and trauma.
Steeped in Russian history and Jewish heritage, On the Sickle’s Edge explores the way that culture and identity thread their way through generations. Through the story of one family, the novel represents the experience of many immigrant families and the way in which they have transcended trauma. It attests to the importance of family stories as a key part of one’s heritage and as a primary legacy to generations that follow.
Review: This was a well written, clearly well researched, and thought provoking novel. I was hooked right from the start and even though this is almost 500 pages, this book never released its claws.
This story was an intense story of love, loss, poverty, sacrifice, and what we would do for those we love. This is the first book I have read about the USSR and I found it both fascinating and terrifying. I felt like I was there, in the thick of it with Lena and Darya. The choices they were forced to make were horrible and I can’t imagine living like that. I give my complete respect for all those who suffered such horrible fates.
I absolutely loved Lena. She was such a strong and capable woman and she endured so much in her life. She never seemed to quite understand how much strength she truly had, but she was always humble and I loved that about her. She was given a tough lot in life and she just kept her head down and endured. I learned so much from her story and I hope to be a little more like Lena.
Recommendation: This story is one that can’t be missed. I would recommend this to anyone. Those who love history would especially enjoy this read. This is the first book I have read by Neville D. Frankel but this will certainly not be the last.
About Neville D. Frankel
A native of South Africa, Neville Frankel is the author of two previous works of historical fiction, an apartheid-era novel Bloodlines and The Third Power, a well-reviewed political thriller about the transformation of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. He is the recipient of an Emmy for his work on a Frontline/BBC documentary, and is a contributor to The Huffington Post and The Good Men Project. Neville is also 2013 and 2017 Jewish Book Council author and has presented at venues across the country. In addition to his passion for writing, Neville is an avid painter and mountain climber. He and his wife divide their time between Boston, Santa Barbara and Cape Cod.
*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*