Friday, December 4, 2015

The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor

From the author of Margot, comes a new historical fiction book set in New York from 1947-1953. In The Hours Count, Cantor begins to weave the story of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Millie Stein together. Millie, her Russian immigrant husband Ed, and toddler son David, who doesn't speak, have just moved to the more upscale Knickerbocker Village apartments. Ed pays no attention to Millie or David as he's gone to work all day and comes home to drown his sorrows with vodka. Feeling completely alone and in desperate need for a friend, Millie meets her neighbor Ethel Rosenberg, and they bond over motherhood.

With World War II just over and the Soviet Union becoming more powerful, the United States is on the brink of the Cold War. With Communism, Joe McCarthy's Communist hunt, espionage, and the threat of an atomic bomb on the horizon, much of America is on high alert. When Millie meets Jake, a psychotherapist, at a party held by the Rosenbergs, she begins to question everything about her life. Is Ed really who he says he is? Could he be a KBG spy? As Jake works with David on his speech issues, it's clear to see that Jake isn't necessarily who he says he is either. Millie and Ethel's friendship winds together even more as the FBI begins to close in the Rosenbergs. As she sees her friend's life begin to unravel, Millie begins to realize that her life isn't what she once she thought either.

Paying close attention to detail, Cantor paints a clear picture of the hysteria that ensued surrounding McCarthy's Communist witch hunt. Although Millie is a fictional character, Cantor has researched the Rosenbergs and told an interesting story of a dark time in American history.