Kaaterskill Falls

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Kaaterskill Falls is a novel by Allegra Goodman, it is also is a two-drop waterfall located near in the eastern Catskill Mountains of New York. The Catskills are famous in American cultural history for being the site of the so-called Borscht Belt, a Jewish resort area where Allegra Goodman has set her story.

The novel focuses on a number of characters who are the disciples of Rav Elijah Kirshner while exploring what it is to be part of a cloistered community.

The rav is an aging widower afflicted by Parkinson’s disease. The father of two sons, he has not yet declared who will succeed him when he dies; the pious but stolid Isaiah, or the brilliant but worldly Jeremy.

Andras Melish, a Holocaust survivor, is impatient with his wife while a doting brother. He is not sure where he stands as regards religion and still comes back to Kaaterskills Falls year after year.

Elizabeth Shulman is restless. Although a devoted wife and the mother of five daughters, she expects more from life than being a dutiful housewife.

The author chose to follow the “show, don’t tell” admonition. Thus rather than exposing, summarizing, and describing what happens, Allegra Goodman prefers to show the main characters’ actions, words, thoughts, and feelings. She does not explicitely criticize or praise but lets us draw our own conclusions.

8 thoughts on “Kaaterskill Falls

  1. Lovely image!
    They made a movie of the same name but it didn’t follow the book.
    My family vacationed one year in the Catskills and actually walked to the falls. It was a long walk but worth every step to see the falls.

  2. Pingback: Here in HP, a Highland Park, New Jersey blog » Bits of Kaaterskill Falls

  3. Pingback: Paradise Park « Ilana-Davita

  4. What an excellent review! The book sounds like one I need to read.

    I have fond childhood memories of the Catskills…

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