When We Were Bad
Claudia Rubin is in her heyday. Wife, mother, rabbi and sometime moral voice of the nation, everyone wants to be with her at her older son's glorious February wedding. Until Leo becomes a bolter and the heyday of the Rubin family begins to unravel . . .
'As intelligent as it is funny. A beautifully observed li...more
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The central character and family matriarch is Claudia Rubin, an intelligent rabbi in an age when female rabbis were not the norm in English Jewish circles. Not only is she a rabbi, but she is also a well-known writer. She is manipulative, forceful, attractive, and knows how to put on superficial faces when necessary...more
I really enjoyed this. A rambling kind of family saga in some ways, but the sort that cover a lot of family in a short space of time rather than sort that transcend generations. The central characters are the members of a London Jewish family - Claudia, successful mother, and Norman, unsucessful father, and their four grown up children (for various values of "grown up").
I found the characters all pretty believable, often they are "larger than life" in the way that real people really are. What I...more
I did get the family dynamics though - that pretty much translates across the board - in all races and religions. Let's put 'FUN' back in dysFUNctional!!!! Although they did seem alittle more screwed up than most..... or maybe just in relation to my particula...more
It's the tale of the Rubin family. The Rubin family's life circles around their mother's expectations. Claudia Rubin is a respected member of the community, a Rabbi, über-mother par excellence. She writes books, goes on TV and the radio and generally seems to be respected and looked to as a moral compass.
Her husband, Norman, is a writer himself, but clearly stands in his wife's shadow, their four grown-up children seem...more
Deduction of stars - often Mendelson was very unclear - the dialog or the overall narrative left pieces out and we were somehow supposed to follow anyway - also certain threads didn't...more
Quite frankly, I wasn't expecting to like this book too much -- the only reason I picked it up was that it was sitting on my office bookshelf and I had forgotten to bring the other book I was reading. As I'm terrified of being caught on public transportation with nothing to read, I grabbed this, mostly because it looked...more
I persisted. It was worth it.
The lives of every family member begin to unravel as son Leo’s life very publicly does, the day he leaves his wife-to-be some 4 minutes before t...more
An interesting book with potential, but it gets caught too much up in causing a "whoa" moment th...more
The strength of Charlotte Mendelson’s writing is evident. She started out giving me a family whose members I universally disliked. But as they each harbored and nurtured their secrets, they became much more interesting, if not always more endearing, and soon, everything was hurtling toward what promised to be...more
This is a very literary book (yes, I do read literary fiction :P). It also reminds me of Anne Enright's writing in that it's a very sardonic look at family life. None of the Rubin clan is perfect and they are not always likable or pleasant. Th...more