Away is a modest name for a book as gloriously transporting as Amy Bloom's new novel. Alive with incident and unforgettable characters, it sparkles and illuminates as brilliantly as it entertains. The accomplishment is even more remarkable given the seeming drabness of the story Ms. Bloom tells. She offers a ridiculously beautiful account of a 1926 transcontinental schlep by an immigrant Jewish seamstress from New York toward Siberia in search of her young daughter…To the extent that a work of fiction can be all things to all people, this one is remarkably versatile. Away is a literary triumph, a book-club must and a popular novel destined for wide readership. It is accessible to the point of pure enthrallment without compromising its eloquence or thematic strength. Yet it is also a classic page-turner, one that delivers a relentlessly good read.
Janet Maslin - New York Times
This whole novel reads like dry wood bursting into flame: desperate and impassioned, erotic and moving—absolutely hypnotic...nobody wastes any time in this novel, particularly the author. The whole saga hurtles along, a rush of horrible, remarkable ordeals: One minute Lillian is jumping into a deadly menage a trois, the next she's beating a porcupine to death with her shoe and eating it. Not every woman could pull that off. Each chapter reads like a compressed novel, a form that works only because Bloom can establish new characters and grab our sympathies so quickly. One of her most striking techniques is the way she periodically lets little tendrils of the story push ahead, shooting into the future to spin out the stories of characters Lillian encounters along the way. Lives bloom or wither in these asides, and then we're back with Lillian once more as she trudges on, inexorably, toward her daughter. And so what begins as a paean to the immigrant spirit in a city of millions is ultimately a gasp of wonder at the persistence of love, even in the remotest spot on earth. Hang on.
Ron Charles - Washington Post
Her execution is exquisite, and exquisite execution is rare–not only in books but (alas) in almost any undertaking…The pleasures of Away are the ordinary pleasures of extraordinary novels: finely wrought prose, vivid characters, delectable details. There’s a soft-smile, along-the-way humor.... A practicing psychotherapist, this author combines eloquence with insight.
Los Angeles Times
Amy Bloom is blessed with a generous heart and a brilliant imagination, which is evident once again in her fifth and best book so far, Away.... The vividness and tenderness with which Bloom tells this story is stunning. Bloom, who teaches writing at Yale University and is also a practicing psychotherapist, has an innate understanding of the complexity of the human heart and in Lillian, she has created her most compelling character yet.
[Lillian's] journey...elevates Bloom's novel from familiar immigrant chronicle to sweeping saga of endurance and rebirth.... Bloom's tale offers linguistic twists, startling imagery, sharp wit and a compelling vision of the past...[and] has created an extraordinary range of characters, settings and emotions. Absolutely stunning.
Full of pathos, humor, and often heartbreaking beauty, this novel tells the story of immigrant life and the caring of others without being maudlin or didactic.
A Russian Jewish woman's struggles to survive in America.... Summary doesn't do justice to this compact epic's richness of episode and characterization, nor to the exemplary skill with which Bloom increases her story's resonance through dramatic foreshadowing of what lies ahead for her grifters and whores and romantic visionaries and stubborn, hard-bitten adventurers.... [An] impressively original novel.
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