Evergreen by Belva Plain

 Reviewed by Rosalie Paul

Anna, a young Jewish girl of sixteen, leaves Poland to find a better life in America.  She lives with her cousin Ruth in New York City and works in a sweat factory sewing.  The apartment is cramped and has no place to bathe in private; so she takes a job as a maid only to have her own room and a tub. 

First she learns English at night school.  She soon falls for Paul Werner, her employer’s son on to find out he’s engaged (pre-arranged by both sets of parents).  She quits that job and marries Joseph Friedman.  In 1914 she has a baby boy named Maurice, Maury for short.  Three years later her husband asks her to go to her old employer to ask for a loan of $2,000.00 to start him off in the real estate business.  Against her better judgment, she goes to see the Werners.  No one is home except Paul.  He gladly giver her the money, then lures her upstairs for a roll in the hay.  Nine months later her daughter Iris is born.

Anna’s husband uses the money well, and becomes a huge success.  He moves his family to the affluent West Side and no luxury is spared.  He does not know Anna’s secret.  Many of their friends lost everything in the crash of ‘29, but Joseph managed to hold his own.  Maury marries a gentile (big no-no in the book).  They have one son, and then they are both killed in an auto accident.  The baby is raised by the mother’s parents.  When they both die, the boy is then twelve and goes to live with the Friedmans, his “other? grand parents.  Iris marries well and has lots of kids.  Anna keeps her secret forever.  Iris never finds out who her real father was.   

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