Written by Gerald Jacobs
Review by Alan Pearson

It does not really matter that this is a story about a Jewish community living in Brixton, South London, after the war. It could apply to any community of whatever denomination right up to the present day. There are the inevitable rivalries and feuds that show up wherever people live together in a small group enclosed in the bigger pool of a big city.

I would say that the BBC soap opera East Enders has stolen a lot of the limelight that this book would generate, but here, the tale is told with a quiet reverence for the characters involved that is denied those in the television soap.

The story winds around the convoluted emotions of the community of thieves and traders, and gradually expands as characters disappear, sometimes with haste and sometimes terminally. Their interactions become more violent, as relatives seek revenge, or a righting of perceived wrongs. The vendettas continue into old age, and even though many of the younger generation have left London and established successful lives elsewhere, some still have an axe to grind. The youngsters are nowhere near as thuggish as their elders, and this leads to some mistakes, with deadly, if nevertheless funny, consequences.

The characters are believable, and their interplay with each other unpredictable as the years unfold, giving with each turn of the page an unsuspected outcome.  A thoughtful look at humanity, though sometimes at its most basic level.