The Family Tabor by Cherise Wolas (Review by Madhura Mukhopadhyay)

2 min read

Rating 4/5

Life couldn’t be more perfect for the Tabors. For all his years of service to humanity, Henry Tabor is about to be consecrated as the Man of the Decade. He lives in a spacious mansion with his beautiful and brilliant wife Roma. Soon his three children – overachievers in their chosen fields – will be returning home to join in the festivities.

However as soon as the family gathers, Roma – a trained psychologist begins to register something off-kilter. Each of her children appears to be hiding something, a falsely cheery smile plastered on to evade detection. Little does she know that even her husband, so loved and revered out in the world, is suddenly consumed by guilt over an incident that took place thirty years ago. As the family spends the weekend together, lies crumble and the truth is finally revealed.

This is not an easy book to read. It is not a fast-paced page-turner and it definitely doesn’t have a shocking ‘Et Voila!’ moment. Instead it is a slow, languorous story where Cherise Wolas has painstakingly created some of the best developed characters I have ever read. The Tabor family members are so well-etched out that they could almost be alive in your living room.

A looming theme in this book is religion. The Tabor family are largely non-observant Jews but having descended from a highly renowned member of the Jewish clergy, faith is still a large but unacknowledged presence in their lives. The Tabors are also haunted by the stories passed down over time by parents and grandparents which unassailably include the horrors of centuries worth of Jewish persecution. With uncanny precision, Wolas has ensured that this legacy of terror is reflected in tiny subconscious decisions the characters make in their modern day lives.

The other most important theme in this book is perhaps family. For all intents and purposes, the Tabor Family is a close-knit, loving group. Yet each member harbors a secret, that they feel would render them unacceptable by the others. Wolas has created an intricate gossamer network of family dynamics where each member is independent and yet wholly dependent on everyone else.

In sum, The Family Tabor is a more of a slow burn which portrays a realistic and completely plausible family at a crucial junction in their lives. It is magnificently rendered and without moralizing invites contemplation, maybe, even a bit of soul-searching.

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