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The Tin Horse: A Novel [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Janice Steinberg , Kate McGregor-Stewart

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Book Description

Jan. 29 2013
In the stunning tradition of Lisa See, Maeve Binchy, and Alice Hoffman, The Tin Horse is a rich multigenerational story about the intense, often fraught bond sisters share and the dreams and sorrows that lay at the heart of the immigrant experience.

It has been more than sixty years since Elaine Greenstein’s twin sister, Barbara, ran away, cutting off contact with her family forever. Elaine has made peace with that loss. But while sifting through old papers as she prepares to move to Rancho Mañana—or the “Ranch of No Tomorrow” as she refers to the retirement community—she  is stunned to find a possible hint to Barbara’s whereabouts all these years later. And it pushes her to confront the fierce love and bitter rivalry of their youth during the 1920s and ’30s, in the Los Angeles Jewish neighborhood of Boyle Heights.
 
Though raised together in Boyle Heights, where kosher delis and storefront signs in Yiddish lined the streets, Elaine and Barbara staked out very different personal territories. Elaine was thoughtful and studious, encouraged to dream of going to college, while Barbara was a bold rule-breaker whose hopes fastened on nearby Hollywood. In the fall of 1939, when the girls were eighteen, Barbara’s recklessness took an alarming turn. Leaving only a cryptic note, she disappeared.
 
 In an unforgettable voice layered with humor and insight, Elaine delves into the past. She recalls growing up with her spirited family: her luftmensch of a grandfather, a former tinsmith with tales from the Old Country; her papa, who preaches the American Dream even as it eludes him; her mercurial mother, whose secret grief colors her moods—and of course audacious Barbara and their younger sisters, Audrey and Harriet. As Elaine looks back on the momentous events of history and on the personal dramas of the Greenstein clan, she must finally face the truth of her own childhood, and that of the twin sister she once knew.
 
In The Tin Horse, Janice Steinberg exquisitely unfolds a rich multigenerational story about the intense, often fraught bonds between sisters, mothers, and daughters and the profound and surprising ways we are shaped by those we love. At its core, it is a book not only about the stories we tell but, more important, those we believe, especially the ones about our very selves.

Advance praise for The Tin Horse
 
“Steinberg, the author of five mysteries, has transcended genre to weave a rich story that will appeal to readers who appreciate multigenerational immigrant family sagas as well as those who simply enjoy psychological suspense.”—BookPage
 
“Steinberg . . . has crafted a novel rich in faith, betrayal, and secrecy that explores the numerous ways people are shaped and haunted by their past. . . . A sweeping family saga reminiscent of the writing of Pat Conroy, where family secrets and flashbacks combine to create an engrossing tale of growth and loss. Highly recommended for fans of family drama and historical fiction.”—Library Journal
 
“Steinberg’s quietly suspenseful novel is compelling by virtue of her sympathetic characters, vivid depiction of WWII-era Los Angeles, and pinpoint illuminations of poverty, anti-Semitism, family bonds and betrayals, and the crushing obstacles facing women seeking full and fulfilling lives.”—Booklist


From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (Jan. 29 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385359470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385359474
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 12.9 x 4.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g

Product Description

Review

Advance praise for The Tin Horse
 
“Steinberg, the author of five mysteries, has transcended genre to weave a rich story that will appeal to readers who appreciate multigenerational immigrant family sagas as well as those who simply enjoy psychological suspense.”—BookPage
 
“Steinberg . . . has crafted a novel rich in faith, betrayal, and secrecy that explores the numerous ways people are shaped and haunted by their past. . . . A sweeping family saga reminiscent of the writing of Pat Conroy, where family secrets and flashbacks combine to create an engrossing tale of growth and loss. Highly recommended for fans of family drama and historical fiction.”—Library Journal
 
“Steinberg’s quietly suspenseful novel is compelling by virtue of her sympathetic characters, vivid depiction of WWII-era Los Angeles, and pinpoint illuminations of poverty, anti-Semitism, family bonds and betrayals, and the crushing obstacles facing women seeking full and fulfilling lives.”—Booklist

“In the wry and witty voice of retiree Elaine Greenstein, author Janice Steinberg brings the bygone Jewish immigrant L.A. neighborhood of Boyle Heights to vibrant life. Part mystery, part sister story, part family history, The Tin Horse is a completely immersive reading experience. I closed the pages feeling as though I’d lived another life.”—Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife
 
“Steinberg’s novel introduced me to a dramatic piece of L.A.’s history through the story of the Greenstein family, set in prewar Jewish Boyle Heights. Fascinating and meticulously rendered.”—Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

About the Author

Janice Steinberg is an award-winning arts journalist who has published more than four hundred articles in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Dance Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She is also the author of five mystery novels, including the Shamus Award–nominated Death in a City of Mystics. She has taught fiction writing at the University of California, San Diego, and dance criticism at San Diego State University. A native of Wisconsin, she received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of California, Irvine. She holds a blue belt in the Nia dance-fitness practice and teaches weekly classes. She lives in San Diego with her husband.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  123 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully told story, laced with historical details Jan. 30 2013
By Anne Marie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved this novel by Janice Steinberg. It's a beautifully written story of two very different sisters, and how their lives diverged, one maintaining her ties to their Jewish immigrant family and accomplishing great things as a trailblazing lawyer, the other -- well, you'll have to read "The Tin Horse" to see what happened to that adventurer. This multigenerational family saga is set in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, a center of Jewish life during the 30s and 40s. Steinberg's ear for this vanished culture feels unerring, and her novel revolves around a female character, Elaine Greenstein, you're unlikely to forget. Highly Recommended.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating ride Feb. 23 2013
By S. Mayfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I read The Tin Horse twice: the first time to bolt through the fast-moving story and the second to let myself cozy up into the novel's nooks and crannies. It was that second time that I got the pleasure of both taking another look at the storyline, and of turning up places with the deeper-running threads and themes that make for truly great reading.

This novel rooted in the Jewish community of Boyle Heights in the early part of the last century takes a fresh look at the humor, wonder and, sometimes, heartbreak of the American immigrant experience. It's also an unconventional detective story told by feisty, no-nonsense Elaine Greenstein, who appears as a minor figure in Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. The author rescues the barely-sketched face from the noir-ness and completes the portrait to dazzling effect in Elaine.

I loved meeting up with such a memorable narrator: the kind of woman who manages both to surprise you and to make you feel you know her profoundly. California history, an engaging mystery, and a poignant, personal story all came together to make this book a captivating ride from beginning to end...times two.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dredging Up Painful Memories in Engrossing Saga March 16 2013
By Mr. August - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Janice Steinberg starts this novel with a bang. She provides us with the time, pre World War II and the place is Boyle Heights, a noticeably Jewish neighborhood in southern Los Angeles. I instantly became engrossed in the family, the young father (Papa) and his four daughters.

The narrator is Elaine, a fraternal twin, a successful attorney, widow and a grandmother, who is preparing her collection of documents for USC when she finds a business card from detective. Philip Marlowe, (famous fictional detective), who had established a working relationship with Elaine. The gist of the novel is the estrangement of Elaine's fraternal twin, Barbara, 65 years ago. She walked out on the family as a very young woman leaving grieving parents, sisters and aunts. So no one knows why she left; Elaine has a few ideas but is wracked with guilt and pathos about her sister.

Steinberg's strength is history. She expertly interfaced the times, the Jewish persecution, Zionism and fervent commitments with the story of this family. The Jewish immigrants entering America were often treated poorly by their own relatives, despite the monetary and emotional efforts to remove them from the torment in Europe. In this particular story, the mother, Charlotte, arrives from Romania, marries, has four daughters and becomes somewhat of a shrew. She is not an easy woman and freely doles out guilt. One of the male characters, Danny, is artfully portrayed as an American Jew who is an extreme promoter of the Palestinian state. Danny also has relationships with both Barbara and Elaine.

The dynamics of the family are front and center and confounded with arguments, jealousy and aspirations. Elaine is the quiet, intellectual sister while Barbara is pretty, vivacious and is presented in an illusory tone.

Barbara's escape from the family touched everyone. Harriett, the youngest sister who is a therapist, answers every question with another question. She is challenging Elaine's search for her long-lost sister.

The search becomes tedious and possibly too analytical. By the time, we reach the ending, I'm not sure if the reader is more relieved than surprised. The ending is really anti-climactic, as the saying goes, but it included the most shocking line: "not that I think anyone in their right mind would be Jewish if they had a choice about it." Ms. Steinberg writes with a sure hand and this novel is a good example of immigrant sagas. 3.5 stars
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book wrapped me around its little finger! Feb. 9 2013
By Joan B. Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"The Tin Horse" totally hooked me. Spanning decades, it portrays a family in times and places as varied as Europe in the war years, LA during the Great Depression, and the US in the current day. Steinberg has created a historically accurate saga, delightfully punctuated with cameo appearances by a well-known fictional detective. The characters were completely engaging.

This book is a rich, wonderful mystery. I picked it up after dinner (just to take a quick look), grudgingly put it down for a few hours of sleep, then restarted before breakfast! What a satisfying read!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Different Feb. 12 2013
By Abigail Padgett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
How do we know who we are? For some, family and culture provide a comfortable path to identity. For others that path can be a prison, and escape at any cost a desperate necessity. The Tin Horse, narrated by octogenarian Elaine Greenstein, traces the history of a complex and interesting family through several generations, from Romania to the now-vanished Jewish enclave of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles County. Elaine, intriguingly based on a cameo character in Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, finds a provocative note in a box of her long-dead mother's things. It's just an address, but it triggers a cascade of memories and a determination to solve the sixty-year-old mystery that has shadowed Elaine all her life - the sudden disappearance at eighteen of her twin sister, Barbara.
Scrupulously researched and characterized by evocative settings and penetrating insights into a half-forgotten time, The Tin Horse is a thought-provoking and delightful read!
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