In this author’s earlier novel The Family With Two Front Doors, we met little Nomi, a rabbi’s daughter, who lived in 1920s Poland with her huge family. The theme of that novel was the preparation for her older sister’s wedding. In the meantime, we got a peek at the busy life of the women and girls of that family, cleaning and cooking, but especially cooking their large kosher meals, effectively preparing a dinner party every week, and Jewish life in an Orthodox community.
This novel is set about forty years later, in the Melbourne of the 1960s. Nomi is now a grandmother and her role as lead character is taken over by her granddaughter Anna. Anna and her two sisters have a very different life from Nomi’s childhood. They live with their observant, but not Orthodox, parents, go to school and enjoy a pleasant lifestyle. Melbourne in the 1960s, of course, had no Internet and no smartphones. TV was black and white. Milk in glass bottles was delivered by horse and cart. I remember that! The milkman’s horse was a pretty white mare called Lady, whom I used to pat while her human was off doing his job.
The theme of this story is Anna’s desperate longing for an antique doll like the one she has been reading about in her library book. Remember - no Internet, no Google or eBay to help. The 52 Mondays of the title refer to the Mondays when Anna’s mother takes her to the local auction rooms, which display items for sale before the Tuesday auctions.
It’s probably not too much of a spoiler to tell you she eventually gets her wish, otherwise it would be more than 52 Mondays. Meanwhile, we go through a year of Anna’s family’s life - her classes, amusing accidents at home, school athletics days, games, birthday parties, swapcards, even illness. Nomi appears a number of times, as Nana Nomi, and charming she is too!
The novel is loosely based on the author’s own childhood, but only loosely, she says. She refuses to go into detail or even say which part of Melbourne the story is set in, to allow all readers to imagine it as they wish. It’s gentle and charming and sometimes funny, like the first one. Again, the delightful illustrations are by the author.
If you’d like to check it out, here’s the Booktopia link. https://www.booktopia.com.au/52-mondays-anna-ciddor/prod9781760523480.html
Also available on Apple Books, Amazon and in all good bookshops.