by Lynda Cohen Loigman
The story opens in 1947 Brooklyn, as two sisters-in-law find themselves pregnant – again. Rose is soft-spoken, sweet, and dutiful, and already the mother of three daughters. Rose’s husband Mort sees the absence of a son in the family as Rose’s failure, and his resentment is felt by his entire household. Cheerful, outspoken Helen has four sons already, and although her marriage to Abe, Mort’s brother, is flourishing and she adores her boys, suddenly she finds herself pining for a daughter. The two women are as close as actual sisters and best friends, and the closeness of their relationship is reinforced by the fact that the two families share a house, one living downstairs, and the other upstairs, never farther than a knock on the door away. Rose spends her entire pregnancy feeling anxious about the possibility of disappointing Mort with yet another daughter, and Helen spends hers hoping for the daughter who will remain close to her even after her sons grow up and go away from her to make their ways in the world.
As their due dates draw close, both women go into labor one evening during a blizzard so severe that an ambulance can’t reach them – and both of their husbands are away on business. The two babies are born minutes apart behind Rose’s closed bedroom door with the aid of a midwife who was able to reach them in time. What takes place behind that closed door will change the course of both families’ lives in unforeseeable ways forever.
So, what happens when one pins their hopes so desperately to something? The Two Family House offers a caveat: be careful what you wish for.
There are aspects of the story that are a little implausible, but I think the author did a good job with an interesting subject matter. The story is well written and moves along at a good pace, and the characters are well-developed and believable. A good summer read.