Paradise, New York CL (Hardcover)

By Eileen Pollack

Temple University Press, 9781566396578, 264pp.

Publication Date: October 29, 1998



We first meet Lucy Appelbaum, the heroine of Paradise, New York, in 1970, as a nine-year-old girl enjoying her family's Catskills hotel, the Garden of Eden. Ten years later, having found nothing else at which she can distinguish herself, Lucy tries to save the Eden by capitalizing on a wave of nostalgia for the Borscht Belt and running the hotel as a sort of living museum of Yiddish culture. In the course of the season, Lucy battles her grandmother's attempts to sabotage Lucy's success, her parents' superstitious fears of anything that attracts attention to the Jews, and her brother's contention that what Lucy is doing is more a matter of ego than authentic religious feeling. In the meantime, Lucy comes to realize her love for Mr. Jefferson, the hotel's longtime black handyman, and begins to face the barriers that stand between them. On top of all this, Lucy must contend with a Hasid who buys the chicken farm next door; a cell of ancient Jewish Communists who instigate a strike among Eden's overworked young staff; a gay chef and gay baker who want to prove to the world that kosher cuisine can satisfy the most sophisticated gourmet; and Jimmy Kilcoin - an Irish Catholic Insurance adjustor known as "the Don Juan of the Catskills" - who is determined to seduce Lucy before summer's end.