Friday, April 14, 2017

**GIVEAWAY** Showcase The Two Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

There's nothing more exciting for me than to introduce my readers to a debut author. If you love mid-twentieth century historical fiction, family drama or if like me the premise just pulls you in I hope you'll put this title on your reading list.
Lynda's publisher St. Martin's Press is sponsoring a #Giveaway see below for details.

ISBN-13: 9781250118165
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 03/21/2017
Length: 320pp
Buy It: Amazon/B&N/Kobo/IndieBound/Audible

Brooklyn, 1947: In the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born, minutes apart. The mothers are sisters by marriage: dutiful, quiet Rose, who wants nothing more than to please her difficult husband; and warm, generous Helen, the exhausted mother of four rambunctious boys who seem to need her less and less each day. Raising their families side by side, supporting one another, Rose and Helen share an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic winter night.
When the storm passes, life seems to return to normal; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and the once deep friendship between the two women begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost, but not quite, wins. Moving and evocative, Lynda Cohen Loigman's debut novel The Two-Family House is a heart-wrenching, gripping multigenerational story, woven around the deepest of secrets.

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The Two Family House
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Read an excerpt courtesy St. Martin's Press:

Chapter 1

(May 1947)
The domestic, feminine scene unfolding before Mort did nothing to improve his spirits. Upstairs, in his brother’s apartment, substantial preparations were being made. Not just the brushing of hair and the tying of sashes. Serious words were being spoken from man to man, from father to son. Mort pushed away his breakfast plate and frowned.
Thirty minutes before they were supposed to leave, there was a thudding of footsteps down the stairs and a quick knock on the door. “Got to go! See you there!” Abe’s voice rang with excitement. Mort had assumed they would all walk over to the synagogue together. “What do they need to get there so early for?” he grumbled at his wife. Knowing better than to defend her brother-in-law, Rose shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know,” she answered.
Mort had been dreading this day, the day of his nephew’s bar mitzvah, for months. In the weeks leading up to it, the increased noise and activity of his brother’s family overhead agitated him. He found himself imagining different scenarios to go with every thud and thump he heard. Was Abe’s wife, Helen, testing out a new cake recipe? Was his nephew Harry trying on his new suit? What were the other boys laughing about? Mort tortured himself in this manner for several weeks. He was a sharp, thin man, and in the month before the bar mitzvah he had lost at least ten pounds. His increasingly angular appearance alarmed his wife, but everyone else was too busy to notice.
Rose had been up earlier than usual that morning to make sure the girls were ready on time. Hair ribbons were neatened and his three daughters, clad in matching yellow dresses, were lined up in front of him after breakfast. “They’re like a row of spring daffodils,” Rose entreated. “Don’t you think so?”
Mort looked up, but he was an unappreciative audience. Judith was almost twelve and seemed too old for matching dresses. She was fidgeting in the line, anxious to get back to the book she had been forced to leave on the kitchen table. Every week, Mort insisted that Judith present him with her chosen pile of library books for approval. Every week, Judith asked Mort if he wanted to read one of her books too, so they could discuss it. Every week, he declined.
Mimi, the prettiest of the three, was the most comfortable on display. She was only eight, but already she carried herself with a stylish grace that Mort found unfamiliar. Mort thought she looked the most like Rose. Mimi was forever making cards for friends and family members with pencils and crayons that she left all over the house. Last year, she found her father’s card in the kitchen trash pail the morning after his birthday. She ran crying to him with it, waving it in her hand and asking why he had thrown it away. “My birthday is over,” he explained. “I don’t need it anymore.”
Dinah, the baby of the family, had the most trouble keeping quiet during Mort’s inspection. She was only five, and though she had been taught not to ask her father too many questions, she couldn’t seem to help herself. “What’s your favorite color?” she blurted out, eyes wide with anticipation. Mimi, hoping the answer might give her some insight regarding the design of next year’s birthday card, seemed eager for the reply. But the response was of no help. “I don’t have one,” Mort said.
After Mort nodded his silent endorsement of the girls’ appearance, the family was ready to go. He usually took the lead during outings like these, leaving everyone else struggling to match his quick strides. The girls knew better than to try to walk alongside him. Even Dinah had stopped trying to hold his hand years ago. Instead, they had taken to walking single file on family outings, like unhappy ducks in a storybook, with Rose bringing up the rear.
Today, however, Mort was so out of sorts that he lagged behind the rest and stayed at the back of the line. Despite the warm weather, he found himself shivering in his baggy suit. His face grew increasingly gray with each step that he took. Rose walked ahead, slow and uncomfortable in the lead position.
The policy of the synagogue was to seat men and women separately, even children. Once they arrived, Rose and the girls headed upstairs to the women’s section, while Mort joined Abe and his nephews on the ground floor. While he was relieved to be unburdened by the flock of women that constantly surrounded him, Mort also felt strangely alone. He had been in the sanctuary countless times, but today he felt out of place and insignificant.
The service continued without incident. It was not a stellar reading by any means, but it was not the worst performance he had heard from a bar mitzvah boy either. He felt a secret burst of delight with each mistake his nephew uttered, but no one else seemed to notice. When Mort looked around the room he saw only smiling people, nodding their heads. They were all on Harry’s side.
The walk home was painful. Mort walked behind Abe’s family, counting the cobblestones, trying to remember important business matters. He felt strongly that he should be using his time more efficiently that day, not wasting it on celebrations. He counted invoices and orders in his head, thinking about how busy he would be on Monday, and made a promise to himself to work on Sunday in order to get a jump on the week’s work ahead. At one point he called out to Abe, offering a reminder of an order that needed to be shipped out in a few days. Abe waved his hand in the air, brushing the reminder aside. Abe would not speak about business today.
Back at the house, Mort said hello to relatives he hadn’t seen for months. He accepted compliments on his daughters, praises for their dresses and smiles, but nothing could improve his mood. He took a glass of wine and sipped it. When Rose came over to him with a plate of food, she reminded him to give Harry the envelope they had brought. After that he sat alone, feeling self-conscious and clumsy as he tried to balance the plate on his lap.
The party went on that way, silent and empty for him, until it was almost time to leave. He was on his second glass of wine when he felt a strong arm around his shoulders. It was Helen’s cousin Shep, a bearded hulk of a man a few years older than Abe. “Morty!” he said, squeezing with his oversized hands. “Good to see you!” Mort tried to pull away, but it was impossible to escape Shep’s grip. “Guess what, Morty? No, you’ll never guess. I got married! Never been better! Meet my wife, Morty, and my son!” The next minute Mort was being dragged to meet Shep’s chubby wife, Alice, and their even chubbier baby boy. “Nice to meet you,” Mort said.
Alice was quiet, a perfect match for the outgoing Shep. “I tell you, Mort,” he boomed, “being a father is the best thing for a man! Ah, what am I yapping to you for? You know all about it!” He grabbed Mort for one more stifling embrace. “Nice to see you,” Mort muttered, retreating as quickly as possible.
In his haste to escape, Mort turned into the kitchen by mistake. Rose was there with several other women, wrapping up food now that the desserts had been set out. She looked over at him and pointed, motioning through the doorway to Harry, who was standing with one of his brothers.
Mort patted his pocket; the envelope was still there. He might as well get it over with so that he could go home. Over the din of the crowd he heard Shep’s booming voice again. Shep, that idiot, had a new lease on life! He was holding up his son, swooshing him around like a kid with a toy airplane. What Mort noticed next confounded him. Men and women alike turned their heads, this way and that, to catch a glimpse of the baby. For a few seconds at least, the guests were transfixed, their eyes tightly set on the infant in the air. For a moment, maybe more, everyone else was forgotten, even the bar mitzvah boy himself.
When Mort looked back at Rose in the kitchen, desire leapt at him for the first time in months. He felt suddenly generous and surprisingly hopeful. He approached his nephew and patted him on the back. “Nice job, Harry,” Mort told him, slipping the envelope into his hand.
With his task completed, Mort gathered his family to leave. At the door he let Helen kiss him on the cheek and shook Abe’s hand for a moment longer than usual. Abe and Helen looked at each other, but when Helen raised her eyebrow, Mort pretended not to notice. He guided Rose through the doorway, and, with daughters in tow, they left.

Copyright © 2016 by Lynda Cohen Loigman


Publishers Weekly
Loigman debut novel is an engrossing family saga set in post-war Brooklyn. It focuses on two families that are inextricably linked by blood, marriage, and a long-held secret. Brothers Abe and Mort took over their family box business when their father died, even though Mort had his heart set on studying mathematics. The brothers share a two-family house with their children and wives. As the story opens in 1947, wives Rose and Helen are themselves as close as sisters, happily bringing up their children together. Rose and Mort have three young daughters, and Helen and Abe, on the top floor, are bringing up four sons. Then, the two women get pregnant at the same time, deliver their babies together during a horrible blizzard, and make an instant decision to swap the babies that will change all of their lives forever. The story follows the brothers, their wives, and the children through decades. Loigman's use of shifting perspectives allows readers to witness first-hand the growing consequences of long-festering secrets and the insidious lies that cover them up. This historical family drama has a dark underbelly, but Loigman's decision to let the reader in on the secret allows the setting and mood of the novel take over as the characters move haltingly toward redemption and peace. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff & Associates, Inc . (Mar.)
Library Journal
In the middle of a snowstorm in 1950s Brooklyn, two sisters-in-law go into labor at the same time. Their husbands are both stuck in the city on business. Two babies are born, a girl and a boy, and a fateful decision is made that will change the course of both families forever. Beginning in 1947 and ending in 1970, the narrative alternates between the two brothers, Mort and Abe, their wives, Rose and Helen, and two of their daughters, Judith and Natalie.Read-Alikes Jennifer Gilmore's Golden Country, Binnie Kirshenbaum's Almost Perfect Moment, and Naomi Ragen's The Sisters Weiss.
Kirkus Reviews
A debut novel explores the intertwining lives of two Brooklyn families. Mort and Abe are brothers, and when they buy a Brooklyn brownstone together, their wives become fast friends. Abe's family lives upstairs, and Mort's lives downstairs. The families share work (Mort and Abe run their father's company together), play, and many meals. They also share certain frustrations. Mort's wife, Rose, bears three daughters, but Mort is desperate for a son and treats Rose cruelly in the meantime. On the other hand, Helen, who is married to the more gregarious Abe, has had four sons but longs for a daughter: she's lonely in her all-male household. Then Rose and Helen get pregnant at the same time. One winter night when their husbands are away and a blizzard has shut down New York, they both go into labor. That night, they make a decision that alters the course of their families' lives. Afterward, of course, nothing is the same. Loigman's debut novel is concerned with robust sentiments: hope, betrayal, yearning, disappointment. But she undermines those sentiments with banal details, like the color of a kitchen table, while skimping on details about her characters' inner lives. Loigman's writing doesn't quite support the emotional weight that the narrative requires of it; frequently, the prose buckles beneath the load. Intensity is expressed with exclamation points, which do much to raise the volume of the prose but little to heighten its potency or fervor. During one key scene, characters shout back and forth at each other: " ‘That's a terrible thing to say!' ‘Don't you dare raise your voice to me!' ‘Hey—quit yelling at her!' " That Loigman mistakes clamor for vigor is unfortunate. She had the beginnings of a powerful work here. This compelling novel strains beneath its own aspirations and never quite comes to life.

“It’s hard to believe The Two-Family House is Lynda Cohen Loigman’s debut novel. A richly textured, complex, yet entirely believable story, it draws us inexorably into the lives of two brothers and their families in 1950s Brooklyn, New York.... As compelling as the story line are the characters that Loigman has drawn here. None is wholly likable nor entirely worthy of scorn. All are achingly human, tragically flawed and immediately recognizable. We watch them change and grow as the novel spans more than 20 years....engrossing from beginning to end.” —The Associated Press

(As seen on, San Diego Union Tribune, Daily MailThe Daily Journal)
“This absolutely riveting book reads like a suspense novel.... The underlying complexities of friendship, the intricacies of marriage and the disintegration of family are explored in this gem of a family saga. The characters are fully drawn, and the writing is superb. This is a book that is sure to become a popular choice for book clubs.” —Historical Novel Society

“THE TWO-FAMILY HOUSE takes you on a tour of dysfunction and deep and abiding love in a way that reflects the entanglements that come with a close-living family....its examination of generations of a family with their own high expectations to live up to resonates on several different levels....this very literary tale actually gives readers so much more than it may seem at first.” —Book Reporter

“Instead of detracting from the book, my uncovering of the 'secret' enhanced my enjoyment of this novel—one of the best I’ve read in a long time....Who, how and why is the subject of this well-written, insightful study of human behavior...that promises good things to come.” —Washington Jewish Week

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman is an outsider’s look into a world filled with tension and mistrust—and most of all, secrets. [It] will make you question and make you angry—but mainly, it will make you rethink your own family history, until you are left wondering—how much do you know about your own past? And how sure are you that, without warning, your world might not be blown apart?” —Jewish Book Council

“In her first novel, Loigman uses complex characters to deconstruct the anatomy of family relationships and expose deep-rooted emotions, delivering a moving story of love, loss, and sacrifice.” —Booklist Reviews

"In her first novel, Loigman uses complex characters to deconstruct the anatomy of family relationships and expose deep-rooted emotions, delivering a moving story of love, loss, and sacrifice." —Booklist Reviews

“Peeling back the layers that surround an irreversible, life-altering secret, this novel weaves a complex and heartbreaking story about lies and love, forgiveness and family. Written from alternating perspectives of the different family members over more than two decades, the deeply developed voices will bring tears and awe, settling snugly into the heart and mind. It’s a reminder that love is always forgiving." —RT Book Reviews Top Pick, 4 ½ stars

"Where Loigman excels is in capturing the time period—1950s Brooklyn. She draws gender roles accurately, even capturing the frustration of Mort and Rose’s eldest daughter, Judith, whose gender constrains her life choices. Loigman nails the way family members, especially parents and children, inadvertently pierce one another with careless comments or subtle looks. As the story unfolds, we are reminded of how a split-second decision can reverberate for decades, even for generations....the real strength of Loigman’s debut effort is her characters, to whom you find your loyalty shifting as the story unfolds." —The Jerusalem Post

"In The Two-Family House, young sisters-in-law are thrown together in a single home, where their children live as near siblings in what on the surface seems an ideal life. Lynda Cohen Loigman plumbs the hidden world beneath the happy faces turned to the world with insight, honesty, and compassion, and in doing so explores universal truths about family, and love, and loss. I will certainly be giving a copy of this utterly charming novel to my own dearest sister-in-law." —Meg Waite Clayton author of The Wednesday Sisters

"In a single, intensely charged moment, two women come to a private agreement meant to assure each other's happiness. But as Loigman deftly reveals, life is not so simple, especially when it involves two families, tightly intertwined." —Christina Schwarz, national bestselling author of Drowning Ruth (an Oprah’s Book Club Pick)

"[Full of] great skill and compassion...a novel you won't be able to put down." —Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and Pretending To Dance

"Two families, both living in one house, drive an exquisitely written novel of love, alliances, the messiness of life and long buried secrets. Loigman’s debut is just shatteringly wonderful and I can’t wait to see what she does next." —Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

"A spellbinding family saga...[and a] rare, old-fashioned read you never want to end!" —Cassandra King, national bestselling author of The Sunday Wife

“…the author’s vivid characters . . . drive the story with suspense and . . . emotional tension to make it a page turner.” —

Connect with Lynda Website - Facebook - Twitter

MEET Lynda:
Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, MA. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. She is now a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, and lives with her husband and two children in Chappaqua, NY. The Two-Family House is her first novel.

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  1. Thanks for sharing the excerpt. This is one that appeals to me. Ha, I forgot the question you asked.

    1. Its all good Kim :) Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment!

  2. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway. Debut novels are very special since i can experience the captivating book which a new to me author has written.

  3. Ooo definitely has me curious. Love the cover and title, too :)

  4. Nice to see this book being highlighted, it was a very enjoyable read.

    1. Oh good to know Kathryn. Did you review it? I'll have to visit and see

  5. Looks like a good debut!

  6. Sounds like a good book and I like the cover.