Cynthia Ozick has been known for decades as one of America's most gifted and extraordinary storytellers; her remarkable new novel has established her as one of the most entertaining as well.
Set in the New York of the 1930s, Heir to the Glimmering World is a spellbinding, richly plotted novel brimming with intriguing characters. Orphaned at eighteen, with few possessions, Rose Meadows finds steady employment with the Mitwisser clan. Recently arrived from Berlin, the Mitwissers rely on the auspices of a generous benefactor, James A'Bair, the discontented heir to a fortune his father, a famous childen's author, made from a series of books called The Bear Boy. Against the vivid backdrop of a world in tumult, Rose learns the refugee family's secrets as she watches their fortunes rise and fall in Ozick's wholly engrossing novel.
In 1933, the Mitwissers, a family of German Jews, arrive in America after a narrow and eccentric escape from Berlin. (Forced to hide for a week before they could flee, they circled the city in a rented limousine, wearing their finest clothes and assuming a regal air at hotels where they slipped in to use the bathroom.) After landing somewhat haphazardly in New York, they place an ad for help in a local paper. The only applicant for the job is an eighteen-year-old orphan, Rose Meadows, who narrates the story, and who observes the Mitwissers with the dry neutrality of an invisible servant. Her duties are vaguely defined—part nanny, part secretary—and her salary comes intermittently, the family’s sole source of income being the whimsy of a troubled benefactor. Ozick portrays this ramshackle household to dazzling effect, as it adjusts to its many states of exile—from a sense of security, from cherished ideas, and from the consolations of each other.