I really enjoyed The Good Neighbour by Beth Miller so I was thrilled to be asked to read her latest book The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom.
Eliza Bloom is an Orthodox Jew and her family have been trying to arrange a suitable marriage for her but she keeps turning down the prospective partners for various reasons. Aware of the pressure heaping on her, when she meets Nathan she can see qualities in him that she thinks she could live with and so she gives her parents the thumbs up for the marriage. What she hasn't bargained on though is meeting Alex, who isn't Jewish, and after a few illicit meetings with him in a coffee shop she finds her thoughts and dreams returning to him night after night, which raises questions about her impending marriage to Nathan.
Fast forward 16 years and Eliza's daughter, Leah, has found a shoebox full of secrets which could potentially destroy everyone involved, but just what has Eliza been hiding?
Beth Miller has a real talent for bringing her characters to life but I must admit it took me a little while to warm to a few characters and I even changed my mind about a few of them along the way. Eliza was a complex character who one minute I felt immense sympathy for, but the next I would quite happily have given her a good shake!
I found the insight into the Jewish Orthodox way of life to be truly fascinating. I had no idea of the extent of rules, traditions and customs that are involved in this culture. It was a real eye opener for me and I could see how transitioning from one culture to another is far more intricate than it would appear on the surface and from the point of view of an outsider.
The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom is a thought-provoking and somewhat cautionary tale of family, love and friendship and the consequences of trying to build a life outside of what's expected and familiar. I don't totally agree with the statement that this is a 'laugh-out-loud' book and I feel that some readers will find this misleading - but, that said, I thought that it was a highly enjoyable read that I would definitely recommend and I hope that I'm looking forward to reading more books from this talented author.
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With kind thanks to Kim at Bookouture, author Beth Miller and NetGalley for the review copy.