Fame and celebrity are fickle creatures. One moment we are celebrated as the most famous person in the world, then in the next moment, we are alone.
In her own time, Mary Antin was both a celebrated author and a woman forgotten by the generation that both praised and criticized her work. Her 1912 autobiography, The Promised Land, traced her childhood in Polotsk, Belarus through her families emigration to Boston and her assimilation into the United States.
In 2000, Evelyn Salz edited and published Selected Letters Of Mary Antin. The letters start in 1898, when Antin was not yet 20, at the beginning her marriage to Amadeus Grabau, a German-American man, who was Christian and a dozen years her senior. The letters are to notables of that era, a list that includes Israel Zangwill and Theodore Roosevelt. The letters end in 1949, just before her death.
It’s an interesting book, Antin is a very complicated woman. She is both a Jewish emigrant from Eastern Europe, a feminist, and a writer in addition to being one half of a mixed religious marriage.
Do I recommend this book? Yes and no. Yes, for research or if the reader has an interest in the immigrants of the first half of the last century. No, if this topic is not interesting to the reader, as it is a bit dry.