A NovelBook - 1998
Dalia Rabinovich weaves the intricate and mysterious tapestry of David and Flora Grossenberg's lives with skill and imagination. The young Jewish couple emigrate to Colombia shortly after their marriage and soon discover that the clash of cultures--between Colombian and American traditions, and between modern Jews and their conservative Russian emigré relations--as well as the foreign landscape will test their marriage and their family bonds.
After the arrival, Flora desperately wants out of the clutches of David's three older sisters, overbearing matriarchs all, and insists that she and David rent a house of their own. There they discover a curious inhabitant, Bolivariana, a wizened old woman who claims to be the illegitimate daughter of Columbia's national hero, Simon Bolivar. She wanders their house aimlessly, scavenging for food late at night, and displaying her uncanny gift for predicting the future.
Also clamoring for Flora's attention are a growing brood of children, a succession of Wayward maids, and the more unusual male members of the family, including the increasingly erratic Harold, whose passion for mangoes lured the entire family to Columbia in the first place.
Bright with imagination and steeped in rich South American culture, Flora's Suitcase chronicles a journey in a strange and wonderful land, marking the emergence of a promising new literary talent.
"Flora's Suitcase is a magical family saga. It's beautifully written, imaginatively evoked and so touching and funny that any reader will be constantly surprised. What a wonderful first novel! And how nice that I had a small part to play in bringing it to readers."
Before they married, Dave had promised Flora that they would live forever in her hometown of Cincinnatiu. He would make many other promises and break them, but that was the one for which he would always he held accountable. It was to be the dormant root of every argument, rarely hurled as an accusation but always present, implicit. What Dave did not know was that Flora, at her mother's suggestion, had asked him to make a promise that she was sure he could not keep.
"A broken promise goes a long way," Shana advised her daughter.
"What did you ask of papa? Flora inquired.
"I don't remember." Shana smiled mischievously. "But what's important is that he does."
--from Flora's Suitcase