Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Review: The End of Bliss by Rhonda Ringler Cutler

It's 1929, and Edith and Reuben Merkal, a couple from Long Island, are living the charmed life. Then the stock market crashes, ushering in the Great Depression. Reuben loses his construction business as well as the house he built for Edith and named 'Bliss.' The Merkals are victims of the times. Even so, they blame themselves and each other for their misfortunes. At first, Edith watches helplessly as a devastated Reuben does nothing about finding work. Eventually, she takes a job as a salesgirl, and comes to relish her growing independence. After Reuben reluctantly becomes involved with Sea Forth's small Jewish community as it fashions a response to an anti-Semitic incident, he begins to understand the reasons behind his life-long ambivalence toward his religion. His awakened sense of responsibility towards Europe's beleaguered Jewish population helps him put his own problems in perspective.

Paperback, 374 pages

Published March 28th 2013 by Fairlight Press
Genre: Historical fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

* I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.* 

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this book. I love historical fiction that takes me to a place that I don't know a lot about. This book takes you through the Great Depression, a era I have not read much about and tells the story of how one couple survives it.

The End of Bliss follows Edith and Reuben Merkal from 1929 to the summer of 1942 and details all of their fortunes and misfortunes along the way. It is told from both of their points of view which gives the reader a very strong understanding of their character and their emotional frame of mind each step of the way. Dysfunctional does not even begin to describe the relationship between these two.

I'll begin with my thoughts of Edith. I won't lie, I hated her character. She was shallow, superficial, self centred, money hungry not to mention a terrible wife and mother. For a person that came from very little, she quickly forgot her routes. She did very little to redeem herself in my eyes throughout the story.

I was back and forth when it came to Reuben. At first I liked him and then I didn't and then I did again. He wasn't a very good parent in the beginning like his wife but I felt that his character did do some growing with each turn of the page. 

What I enjoyed the most was following their journey as things continuously got worse and what they did to survive each time. It was incredible to read about peoples attitudes and how relationships can change by something as simple as your net worth. Without a doubt it was a terrible time.

I don't want to say much more about the story because I hate giving it away. I think fans of historical fiction will really enjoy this book like I did. I am very pleased that I had the opportunity to read it and I'm sure it is one that I will re-read throughout the years. 


About the Author
Rhonda Ringler Cutler’s 26 year banking career was challenging and often fun, plus took her to every continent, except Antarctica. Between that and raising her three sons, it left little time for her true passion—fiction writing. So one day, after much agonizing, she announced to her incredulous staff and boss that she was quitting to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. After obtaining her degree, she spent years wandering through a creative wilderness filled with false starts and dead ends. But tempted as she was to return to the safety of banking (not to mention the fat paychecks), she persevered and THE END OF BLISS, her debut novel, is the result.

In addition to her MFA from Goddard College, Rhonda has an MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business and BA from Barnard College. Rhonda and her husband, Anthony, divide their time between Newton, MA and Sydney Australia. When Rhonda is not writing, consulting on a pro bono basis to small businesses, or visiting her sons, currently living on three continents, she enjoys working out, knitting, cooking, and reading.

1 comment:

  1. I've never tried this type of historical fiction, I've only done wild west or the regency era or farther back. I don't know if I would be able to get invested in it but you make it sound like it's really good so maybe it's worth a shot!! Great Review!

    S.Huston @ Head In The Clouds