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The Angel of Losses

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3.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,122 ratings  ·  200 reviews
The Tiger's Wife meets A History of Love in this inventive, lushly imagined debut novel that explores the intersections of family secrets, Jewish myths, the legacy of war and history, and the bonds between sisters

When Eli Burke dies, he leaves behind a mysterious notebook full of stories about a magical figure named The White Rebbe, a miracle worker in league with the enig
...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Ecco
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Tate There are two of them, and I'm pretty sure they're supposed to represent the mysteries of G-d, as it were. …moreThere are two of them, and I'm pretty sure they're supposed to represent the mysteries of G-d, as it were. (less)

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Average rating 3.36  · 
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 ·  1,122 ratings  ·  200 reviews


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John Amory
Jul 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
EDIT 09/09/14: I was in Barnes & Noble tonight, and I picked up this book when I saw it on the shelf to see what that climactic missing page actually said. Turns out the page is intentionally left blank, not missing. The author just didn't write the climax. Did I miss some artistic reason behind leaving out this seemingly crucial scene?

I'm pretty much at a loss with this one. Possible spoilers follow.

For starters, the description is misleading. If you read it carefully, which I obviously didn't,
...more
Barbara
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it
“The Angel of Losses” is beautifully written and well crafted, but I suspect its readership will be limited to those who are interested in Jewish Mysticism and folklore.

The main story is a standard domestic fiction premise: two sisters, who were very close growing up, grow apart in college. One sister (Holly) marries out of her faith, into Orthodox Judaism, and withdraws from the family. The sister left behind, Marjory, wants her relationship with her sister back.

What author Stephanie Feldman d
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Josh
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ok, so I'm going out on a limb here. The Angel of Losses may have been my favorite book that I read all summer. It's full of everything that I want out of a novel: folklore, magic, obscure religious history, and a heroine who is anything but perfect. The plot centers around a pair of sisters, one who converts to Orthodox Judaism and the other who is a blinders-on grad student dedicated to her thesis. The author does a wonderful job setting up the characters and the tension within the family. The ...more
Roger Brunyate
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Stories of the White Rebbe

I recently wrote in the context of another review (Helen Oyeyemi's Boy, Snow, Bird ) that I disliked fantasy. That thought came back to mock me as I found how much I was enjoying this, a book that begins with a fairy tale told by an old man to his granddaughters, and is punctuated by fantastical tales throughout. I was not just tolerating the fantasy, I was reveling in it. The difference was not in the writing, since both Oyeyemi and Feldman make words obey their bid
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Laura
Nov 13, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 ⭐️
I loved a lot about this book: the tale of two sisters; the grandfather’s secret life; the cultural differences introduced by Holly/Chava’s marriage. I loved the folk tales the grandfather told the girls, and the stories Majorie uncovered in her own studies.

But instead of being 4 or 5 ⭐️, I have to mark this down a bit because the author loses the thread at one point, and you can’t tell which Angel is which, and the timeline of events gets muddled.

Still, I enjoyed spending time with the bo
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Gillik
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, lit-fic
[ARC review]

The Angel of Losses hints at a lot but doesn't quite deliver. We're promised the regret of a close relationship between sisters falling apart, but the book starts with said relationship already in tatters and only occasionally bothers to remind us that, actually, these people liked each other once. Even in the flashbacks - which presumably are there for exactly that purpose, to show us what's been ruptured - Marjorie seems cold and her sister distant. Which could have been an interes
...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
I find myself unable to rate this book – not because I didn’t like it. Quite the contrary: this novel is dripping with incredible sensory detail that I paused, often, to re-read, to roll over my tongue, and to simply sense. It is enmeshed with fairytale and religious fables, and they’re swirled together into a wonderful story within a story (or, in this case, multiple stories within a story).

My inability to rate the book is, I think, a result of the lack of focus I had while reading (I had visi
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Megan Baxter
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
There's a moment, about halfway through this book, where the narrator's new boyfriend warns her that he's okay with heavy, but he doesn't do melodrama. And I was like, "amen, brother!" Except that that's the problem - this book is so melodramatic, so shrill, so full of absolutely inexplicable reactions that had me scratching my head in disbelief that I can't possibly recommend it. In fact, I could barely finish it.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads po
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Jen
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I really enjoyed reading this. A story about Jewish folklore, mystics, secrets and sacrifices. At the center of it all, it's about family and love and acceptance. When Majorie's grandfather, Eli dies she stumbles across a notebook he's written. A notebook that leads her on a journey to discover who she truly is. Fans of The Discovery of Witches would enjoy this. It's a different premise but I found some similarities and I enjoyed both! ...more
Curtis Edmonds
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have a tomato garden that is currently wilted from the August heat. (Really, I do, and stay with me, because this is going places.) The tomato plants started producing nice red plum tomatoes in June, but all the ripe tomatoes were rotten and black at one end at first. This is called "blossom-end rot" and is caused by not having enough calcium in the soil. It wasn't hard to fix, and I enjoyed a bountiful harvest.

There's only one thing wrong with THE ANGEL OF LOSSES, and it is, in its own way, s
...more
Jessica McReaderpants
Hummmmmm what to say, you know that book Sophies World- where they try and jam the entire history of philosophy in a book then try to make you believe "it's a story, this is fun!" when really it it like trying to read War and Peace after taking an Ambian? This book was kind of like that for me. It was all "Look at me! I am a book! I am about Jewish folklore!" what is not to like about it? Well it felt like the author was trying to force feed me a quick history ALL about any and every mention of ...more
Annie
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Marjorie's grandfather had secrets. Everyone has secrets, of course, but none quite like Grandpa Eli. Even after Eli's death, those secrets could get people killed. This introduction makes Stephanie Feldman's The Angel of Losses sound like a thriller. The novel is something quite different. Grandpa Eli's secrets have to do with a centuries-old family curse, Jewish mysticism, and an angel. Feldman's novel is an extraordinary book that had me reading well past my bedtime...

Read the rest of my revi
...more
Clinton
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reminiscent of Alif the Unseen with less action but more exploration of mysticism - Jewish in this case. Recommended.
 ♥♥Mari♥♥
(Reviewer's Note: The publisher provided me with a paperback ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.)

Although the Kabbalah has fascinated me for some time now, I am not at all familiar with Jewish myths and legends. I was therefore delighted to discover that this novel not only touches upon Kabbalistic ideas, but also interweaves them with the tales of the miracle-working White Rebbe. This character is not entirely fictitious; the stories of his exploits are most likely based on trad
...more
Bèbè ✦ RANT  ✦
Aug 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Filled with family traditions, culture, and Jewish folklore, The Angel of Losses is definitely a book you do not want to miss. Jewish myths and legends are very unfamiliar to me so reading about the White Rebbe and get to know the actual rituals was really interesting.

In the book we are introduced to Marjorie, a young woman who lost her grandfather but always been close with him ever since she was little. Ghost stories always fascinated her so when she gets ahold of her grandfather's notebooks
...more
Michelle
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly stunning book! Feldman manages to weave a complex plot that encompasses family drama, Jewish mysticism and folklore, and mystery, but it never felt like any of the various plot threads were given short shrift--everything tied together breathtakingly well. Since I'm not Jewish, I was initially concerned that I might be confused with all of the unfamiliar history and folklore, but luckily the narrator begins the book with the same level of knowledge as I had (enough to get by livin ...more
Victoria (RedsCat)
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman, is a beautifully told tale of two sisters, separated by faith. Marjorie is pursuing her PhD and missing her beloved grandfather. Heidi, an artist, has converted to Orthodox Judaism.

When Marjorie discovers journals written by their grandfather before his death, everything they thought they knew about their lives changes.

This is a story within a story; their grandfathers tales alternating with the girls' quest to find answers. Wonderful, folksy, and myster
...more
Kim Gausepohl
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had previous knowledge of Jewish folklore. I actually had to re-read the first half of the book when I realized around p 125 that I had no idea what was going on. Overall, the book fell flat for me. The contemporary characters seemed one dimensional while the fairy tale characters were the most interesting and realistic. A disappointment.
Kristen
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and the themes of Jewish mysticism, family, love, betrayal, and hope. It was a little difficult keeping all of the mystics names straight but the writing was strong was enough to get you through to the important characters and themes of the book.
Dev
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I spent this entire book trying to figure out if it was general fiction or fantasy. I'm still not sure. The only thing I am sure of is that I went to bed way too late one night because I could not for the life of me put the book down. ...more
Rene Denfeld
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely lovely, astonishing novel. Stephanie Feldman writes with grace and compassion. I adored the melding of myth and reality, family secrets and exposures, and the examination of sister relationships.
Wendy Weiss
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Very well written, and kept me thoroughly absorbed. Really interesting characters and a plot line that i have not seen before! Well done!
Kurt
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not a huge fiction reader but I loved tHis book. The language alone is worth the read. I was reminded of how impoverished my life is without storytellers.. ...more
Jennifer
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful story

Stephanie Feldman did a beautiful job of creating a world that merges scholarship and contemporary life, recent and ancient history, religion and secularism, and the power of families.
Melinda
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I will start by saying the jacket summary is quite misleading. I found the story to be nothing like the jacket description. The content of the narrative was so different from what I was expecting I was more than disappointed.

The intended audience will be a specific group enjoying philosophical, theological along with Jewish folktales. The writing was sound and I enjoyed the Jewish folklore.

My problem was how all of this failed to marry. I’m not a huge fan of theology/philosophy so this was off p
...more
Book Riot Community
It’s weird to say, but I read my favorite book of 2014 in 2013. Just about a year ago, I picked The Angel of Losses up, somewhat randomly, and I’ve been singing its praises ever since. A beautiful accomplishment, Feldman’s debut novel has it all, as I cataloged in an Inbox/Outbox last December: “Jewish folklore. Family secrets. Hidden identities. Hidden notebooks. Bitter estrangements. The past–pasts–roaring up to meet the present.” It’s excellently written, cleverly plotted, generously felt, an ...more
Amy Ariel
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-challenge
I loved this read unabashedly.
I also love Jewish folklore, references to Judaic texts, Jewish mysticism, and Yiddish culture.

For me, the very best part was the last line. Don’t read it first. I implore you. I’m a read-the-end-first reader. For this one, I recommend waiting. It’s that kind of ending. Knowing where you are headed won’t help, and the sizzle is better fresh.

I have thought about that last bit for weeks since closing the cover.

Will you like this book? Who’s to say?
Maybe don’t try
...more
Teresa Kander
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: family-drama
This book did not appeal to me as much as the above synopsis. The folktales interwoven into the story were fascinating, but the story of the present day family was more than just a little too far out in left field for me. I didn't care about any of the characters, with the exception of Holly's newborn son, Eli. The rest of them had so many annoying, irritating personality traits that I couldn't find any reason to get involved in their story. ...more
Liz
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Feldman is one of the few authors who has ever written a work of magical realism grounded in Judaism and Jewish mythology that I actually enjoyed. Most of them entirely fail to meet my standards (which, given that I identify as Orthodox and have a staunchly rationalist bend, may not entirely be the author's fault), but this one was deftly handled and smart and just good. ...more
Jennifer (the_pumpkin_reads)
3.5. Started off incredibly strong and fizzled out. Still loved all the mythology and biblical references. The white rebbe was the highlight
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