Synopses & Reviews
A timely reissue of Emma Wolf's 1892 novel, which boldly interrogates the implications of Jewish-Christian marriage and examines the role of the "new woman" within the traditions of the Jewish home.
Widely regarded as a literary genius in her day, the Jewish American author Emma Wolf (1865 -- 1932) wrote vivid stories that penetrated the struggles of women and people of faith, particularly Jews, at the turn of the twentieth century. Although polio confined Wolf to her home during most of her adult life, she drew on her sisters' everyday experiences as working women, mothers, homemakers, and lovers to create stories filled with immediacy and insight during a time of rapid social change. This reissue of the 1916 revised edition of one of her most popular novels, Other Things Being Equal, first published in 1892, introduces Wolf to a new generation of readers, immersing them in an interfaith love story set in her native San Francisco in the late nineteenth century.
The novel's protagonist, Ruth Levice, a young intellectual from an upper-class Jewish family, meets Dr. Herbert Kemp, a Unitarian, and falls in love. Raised to act on her own judgment, Ruth nonetheless respects the wisdom of her elders -- but her father's inability to sanction her relationship with Kemp becomes a challenge for Ruth on many levels.
The novel's force lies in its unwillingness to adhere to ideological stands. A woman need not give up marriage and home to be strong, independent, and unconventional; a Jew does not have to be orthodox to remain close to her heritage and her faith. Wolf's novel also brings a nuanced perspective to major women's issues of the day, such as the "rest cure, " a health measurecondemned by feminists at the time as a patriarchic attempt to control women.
Intermarriage, assimilation, demands of modernity of family life -- these are all topics that come under scrutiny in Wolf's novel and that have broad resonance for readers today. Readers will also enjo