The Family With Two Front Doors

This was such a delightful book! Anna Ciddor's The Family With Two Front Doors is based on the memories of Ciddor's grandmother, growing up in the Jewish quarter of Lublin in Poland in the 1920s, one of a Rabbi's nine children. The story is small, revolving around older sister Adina's betrothal and arranged marriage to an older man; but the enjoyment of this book is in the details and rituals of daily life. It had me scurrying to find recipes for gefilte fish, sweet noodle kugel, and how to braid challah bread!

The overall picture is of a busy, happy family within a tightly structured weekly routine, though some elements might make a modern reader catch her breath -- Adina is wed at fifteen, older brother Aaron is already married at seventeen, and poor Mum has given birth to thirteen children in twenty years of marriage (four babies died).

The true poignancy of this book for an adult reader lies in the fact that we know that this way of life is doomed. A brief afterword tells us that of this large extended family, only three sisters survived World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. Ciddor says that she wanted to preserve her grandmother's family forever as they were at their happiest, in their secure childhood, and she has achieved this beautifully.


  1. Actually, Adina marries a boy not that much older than her.

    Yes, I found it rather sad too, knowing that this way of life would be over and most of the people dead in only a few years.

    But my mother, who grew up in the 1930s, said it all took her right back to her childhood, when she was the one who went to the bakery to pick up the challah and the chulent, and when her father had guests staying over for Sabbath (he wasn't a rabbi, though). And I can assure you, the food is delicious!

    1. Mea culpa, Sue, you're right, Mordecai is only seventeen. I think I was blinded by his beard! :-)

      How wonderful to share those memories with your mother, I'm glad she was able to read it.

  2. Hi, Kate, I treasure this lovely review. Thank you! I've just checked your list of favourites books, and we have so many in common, but a few I don't know, so thank you for that - new books for me to search out and read :-)

    1. My pleasure, Anna -- it was such a joy to read such a happy book (even with the shadow hanging over it), when doom and gloom seems to be the rule these days. I really loved it.