Between 1910 and 1930 in England’s North County city of Doomington, Jews live on the odd-numbered side of Magnolia Street and gentiles live on the even-numbered side. Those 24 households hold a microcosm of human nature complicated by clashing cultures.
For the most part, Jews and gentiles don’t even recognize each others’ existence. Few make an attempt to cross the street; even fewer succeed. The threat of war hangs over both sides of the street like August humidity, invisible yet palpable.
With his eye for detail and ear for speech, author Louis Golding makes Magnolia Street pulsate with life, sob with loss, and keen the dead who died for nothing at all.
Magnolia Street has no plot to speak of. The book is a collection of related episodes hung together by a few names and anecdotes. You can lay the book down and pick up again days later without having lost the thread of the plot because Golding is constantly reminding readers who so-and-so is.
Perhaps because of those deficiencies, the novel feels like the visit of a slightly older childhood friend who helps you understand the half-remembered events and conversations that shaped your life. It’s no great novel, but it’s an intense emotional experience.Magnolia Street Louis Golding Five Leaves Publications, 2006 531 pages 1932 bestseller #4
Photo credit: “First World War” An engraving on a war cenotaph uploaded by mistereels http://www.sxc.hu/photo/161464