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The Limits of Love

By Frederic Raphael

‘He belongs to that small pantheon of writers who emerged in the 1950s and 60s who were not afraid to highlight anti-semitism in post-war Britain’ – Jewish Chronicle

Otto Kahane, a survivor of Dachau, arrives in North London to stay with his only living relatives, the Adler family. Isidore runs a delicatessen in Cricklewood, his wife Hannah was born in East London, her family having emigrated from Poland before the war. They have prospered, and moved from above the shop in Cricklewood to neighbouring Golders Green. Their daughter Susan marries Ben, a communist party member, and they become part of the young leftist movement that became dominant in Britain after the war. Stolid Colin, her brother, rejects his Jewish heritage, moving with his wife Tessa to Wimbledon. He is an architect, employed in the great house building project of the new Labour government. Youngest sibling Julia looks to a future at university. She is part of the new generation, where ethnic roots are unimportant. Still, she chooses reluctant Jewish boy Paul as her boyfriend.

Moving away from the privileged territory of his hit novel and TV series The Glittering Prizes, accomplished novelist and screenwriter Frederic Raphael explores conflicts of Jewish identity in post-war London. He identifies a particularly British discomfort, embarrassment even, about the trauma of the Holocaust. With his screenwriter’s ear for the nuance of dialogue he follows his characters with brilliance, sympathy and humour. As a picture of life immediately after the war this is a fascinating novel, and unique in its portrait of a Jewish community during that era.

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