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Victoria Zackheim

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Member Since: Before 2003

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The Bone Weaver
by Victoria Zackheim   

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Literary Fiction

Publisher:  Elton-Wolf ISBN-10:  1586190210 Type: 


Copyright:  Jun 1 2001

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The Bone Weaver

Following the death of her dearest friend, UCLA professor Mimi Zilber sets off on a journey to discover how she came to this lonely place in her life. The story is a blend of fiction and history created around four generations of women, their struggles to survive the violence of 19th century eastern European shtetl life and the difficulties faced by the last of their generation, Mimi. By taking apart her family tapestry thread by thread and studying these women, Mimi learns important lessons about courage, the will to survive, and the ability to trust. She also discovers herself.

Set in contemporary Los Angeles and 19th Century eastern Europe, The Bone Weaver explores the life of Mimi Zilber, a highly regarded professor struggling to survive the death of her life-long friend, Sarah. By looking back into three generations of women—great-grandmother, grandmother, mother—and studying those threads that make up her family tapestry (threads fashioned from their lives and, thus, their bones), she begins to understand the source of her isolation. Even more, Mimi is forced to confront how, by submerging herself in academia and living her dreams of marriage and motherhood through Sarah, she has managed to avoid intimacy. Excerpt
Mimi wandered onto the deck. It had rained again last night, an event of note for this drought-controlled City of the Angels. The day was nearly over, yet she felt heat rays bouncing off the deck and warming the place where she stood. How odd to be mourning in such beautiful weather. With a resigned sigh, she walked back into the house to listen to her messages. Sarah might not be there, but she could always count on hearing her mother's voice. In fact, Rivka, usually left three, each one more demanding or doomsaying than the last. To date, the Number One Message on Mimi's list of all-time favorites was: (continues on page 92 of novel)

Professional Reviews

The Bone Weaver
Victoria Zackheim's The Bone Weaver is a superbly written generational story, told from great-grandmother to grandmother to mother, about their lives and problems in struggling to survive and endure in 19th century eastern Europe despite pogroms, diseases, and other ills that befall life in the Jewish shtetl. The history of past survivors helps present day descendent Mimi Zilber better understand herself, where she comes from, and how to best set her sights on the future. The Bone Weaver is a unique, powerful, moving, inspiring, and very highly recommended novel.

Book Passage
Book Passage News & Reviews, January-February, 2002 …By taking apart her family's tapestry thread by thread, Mimi…learns important lessons about courage and the will to survive. The sense of place in this first novel, both in the past and present, is captivating and profound.
My book club, which consists of Indian, Irish, Italian, Dutch, French, Swedish, and mixed Americans, just read The Bone Weaver and loved the book. The author, Victoria Zackheim, met with our club and led a lively discussion explaining how she came to write the version that was published and to share some of her family history which she drew upon in her novel. The novel moves between 19th Century eastern Europe and present-day Los Angeles. In it, we come to know each generation of women and to understand how strongly our histories affect our lives. The author weaves us through the past and present with skill, neatly tying up those loose ends at the end of the novel that explain the heroines' actions. In our book club, we debated who was the true heroine, the daughter or the mother, with some of us changing our minds as the novel progressed. The writer's vivid descriptions of their lives and struggles to survive and love captured our hearts. A lovely first novel and we look forward to her next one when it is published. - Ann Bhandarkar

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Reader Reviews for "The Bone Weaver"

Reviewed by Janet Bellinger 2/26/2006
I just read the excerpt, but it makes me want to read more.
Reviewed by Bobbi Maucere 2/21/2003
Hi Victoria what jr high school did you enroll? Compton, Ca. ????

Bobbi Hutcheson -
Reviewed by Mary Mick 1/21/2003
I found a second-hand copy of BONE WEAVER at Goodwill in San Francisco, where I was moping in a distraught state after the funeral of my best Presentation High School friend, Kathy Murphy. Kathy, only 43, had been smoking since age 13, yet of course never banked on dying young. In these last years, battling cancer, she withdrew a lot and stayed up in Sonoma with her husband, until the very last months when she was back home in the Avenues with her mother. I tried to stay connected but Kathy was no longer really herself.

She had been one of the brightest and wittiest girls in our class, and we had bonded in the first weeks of freshmen year. Anyone who knew us in those years, or in college together, could not forget us, since we operated as a team.

Meanwhile, now in January 2003, I stood forlorn before a rack of blouses and spotted this paperback thrown atop it. I reached out and considered its title, BONE WEAVER. It could have something to do with broken bones, I wondered, except that there's a very Jewish looking old-world woman on front. Since old Europe is my interest, especially Germany and Russia, I looked further. I couldn't believe it. Of all the books to even see on such a wrenching day, I picked up a story about myself. I could be this college professor, adrift alone in the world and torn apart by the lost of the best old friend and only true soulmate of my life. In this book, the professor finds that she cannot function without her now-gone friend to chat with each night. Me, too. I read this book straight through until 5:30AM, and still couldn't sleep.

If I have any criticisms of this - knowing that it is fiction anyway - I would arrange the book differently. The story of our Mimi, modern 40-ish professor in LA, is one story, for it is the story of the death of a best friend in modern USA, a woman-woman story. It is an intense analysis of an intelligent woman's puzzling over her own loneliness and singlehood. This theme could and possibly does obsess many women everywhere in the world, esp. the Western world, as I have learned from travelling. She concludes it's a fear of commitment learned from her own mother, and before that, the mother's mother of old Russia.

That is why there's an in-depth seeking for her Jewish-Russian village roots and family history. However, I would say that is a separate and equally interesting, very absorbing story. I would have put these stories not side-by-side in interlapping chapters, but as two separate yet corresponding stories. It was too difficult to care about both, or all, characters, of different times and places.

Finally, Mimi is sure darned obsessed with marriage! Even in the end, if she achieves it - of reluctant sort - it doesn't ring satisfactorily true to her own heart, but with a resignation about life's inevitabilities and sad acceptances of less-than-ideal choices.

However, hats off to this writer - whom I phoned today - for hitting ME right on the head!

And to my dear friend Kathy Murphy, a fantastic writer in her own right, I vow to write a book about an amazing bond of wits.

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