Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Dialogos (January 15, 2017)
What we cannot keep. What we cannot lose.
A sweeping masterwork of love and loss, secrets and survival, On the Sickle’s Edge is told through the voices of three characters who lay bare their family’s saga: the endearing, scrappy South-African born Lena, transported to Latvia and later trapped in the USSR; her granddaughter Darya, a true Communist whose growing disillusionment with Soviet ideology places her family at mortal risk; and Steven, a painter from Boston who inadvertently stumbles into the tangled web of his family’s past. Against the roiling backdrop of twentieth-century Russia and Eastern Europe, the novel delivers equal parts historical drama, political thriller and poignant love story.
On the Sickle’s Edge takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through some of the most tumultuous events of the 20th century. Instantly immersed in seven generations of the Shtein family, we witness their exhilarating celebrations and provocative controversies, and gain an intimate understanding of the pivotal events in South Africa, Latvia and the Soviet Union. Neville Frankel’s ability to combine historical insight and human passion is spellbinding. I couldn’t put it down. —Pamela Katz, The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink
In the hands of a masterful storyteller, On the Sickle’s Edge pits the weight of an oppressive regime against individual tenacity and profound personal courage. Inspired by Frankel’s own family history, this multi-generational epic holds up a mirror to a universal truth: all immigrants face the powerful tension between assimilation and cultural identity. We have–all of us–lived life on the edge of the sickle.’–Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs, American Jewish Committee
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for On the Sickles Edge by Neville D. Frankel.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an my honest review of it.
On the Sickles Edge is a historical fiction novel based off of the authors families own experiences. This story is a family saga where we follow generations of one family as they go through things like being forced from the only home they’ve known during World War I, the loss of loved ones and the struggle to assimilate into a different culture for their own safety.
I loved this book. I was immediately intimidated by the size because lately I’ve been reading smaller books but when I actually dived into read it, I couldn’t put it down so it ended up going really fast.
This story was really moving, really gripping and also very sad for me. It was a lot of things. It was a story filled with grief, loss, and struggle but it was also a story of survival, Love, hope and identity. I felt like there was a little of everything in it. I didn’t expect there to be romance or humor in this book but I was surprised to find these things in the narrative as well.
I feel like this book is an important one and I think it adds to the conversation that we are all having and will continue to have about immigration, acceptance, and overall human rights. I think something great this book does is places you in the shoes of this family and these people who are have undergone some of humanity’s unfortunate tragedies and ugliness and you can’t help but be right there with the in their struggle to survive and overcome. I didn’t really know much about the attitude and actions towards Jews in Russia at this time so I felt like I was not only feeling a lot while reading this book but I was also learning a lot. I have seen other reviewers not quite liking the cover but I actually really love it, it is initially what drew me in about this book before I had known what it was about and now that I have read it I believe it has a deep significance to the story and to my experience while reading it.
This was beautiful and affecting. There were times when I had to put it down and take a breather, times when I was so scared for these characters that I felt so much compassion for and times when I just couldn’t put it down.
This is a great book, very gripping and very moving. Five stars. Highly recommend. I think I am going to be looking into Third Power by this author now.
Happy Reading everyone!
About Neville D. Frankel
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Neville Frankel immigrated to Boston with his family when he was 14. After graduating from Dartmouth College, he pursued doctoral work in English literature at the University of Toronto. While in Canada, he wrote The Third Power, a well-reviewed political thriller about the transformation of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. He also received an Emmy for his work on a BBC documentary, The Mind of a Murderer: Part 1. In 2005 he returned to South Africa for the first time in 38 years. Over the next decade he went back several more times, researching what would become Bloodlines. He has recently completed work on his newest novel On the Sickle’s Edge, set in 20th-century Eastern Europe, South Africa and the United States.
Neville is a 2013 Jewish Book Council Author and has participated in speaking engagements around the country. A highlight of his Bloodlines book tour was addressing the Board of South Africa Partners and the South African Ambassador to the United States.
When he’s not writing, Frankel works as a financial planner. He also has a keen passion for painting. Frankel has three grown children and lives outside Boston with his wife Marlene.