15 reviews

The Two-Family House: A Novel
by Lynda Cohen Loigman

Published: 2016-03-08
Hardcover : 304 pages
43 members reading this now
58 clubs reading this now
10 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 15 of 15 members

"An emotional but dreamy novel that...will transport you far, far away from your next dreary Monday morning. You may do a lot of sobbing, but don't worry, you'll be smiling by the end." ?Bustle, "12 Spring Break Reads To Help You Escape Normal Life"

**Buzzfeed, "14 Of The Most Buzzed-About ...

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"An emotional but dreamy novel that...will transport you far, far away from your next dreary Monday morning. You may do a lot of sobbing, but don't worry, you'll be smiling by the end." ?Bustle, "12 Spring Break Reads To Help You Escape Normal Life"

**Buzzfeed, "14 Of The Most Buzzed-About Books"

**Popsugar, "6 Books You Should Read"

"A novel you won't be able to put down." ?Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author

Brooklyn, 1947: In the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born, minutes apart. The mothers are sisters by marriage: dutiful, quiet Rose, who wants nothing more than to please her difficult husband; and warm, generous Helen, the exhausted mother of four rambunctious boys who seem to need her less and less each day. Raising their families side by side, supporting one another, Rose and Helen share an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic winter night.

When the storm passes, life seems to return to normal; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and the once deep friendship between the two women begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost, but not quite, wins. Moving and evocative, Lynda Cohen Loigman's debut novel The Two-Family House is a heart-wrenching, gripping multigenerational story, woven around the deepest of secrets.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.



She walked down the stairs of the old two-family house in the dark, careful not to slip. The steps were steep and uneven, hidden almost entirely beneath the snow. It had been falling rapidly for hours and there had been too much excitement going on inside the house for anyone to think about shoveling steps for a departing midwife. Perhaps if the fathers of the two babies born had been present, they would have thought to shovel. But the storm had prevented their return, and neither had been home. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. We learn early in the story that Abe’s relationship with Mort is a complicated one. Would you try as hard as Abe does to maintain a positive relationship with your sibling if he/she acted the way Mort does? Why is it so easy for Abe to always forgive and forget?

2. Do you consider Mort to be emotionally abusive at the beginning of the novel, or is he just disinterested? Does Mort’s behavior justify Rose’s actions?

3. Do you think either Helen or Rose thought about switching babies before the night they were born? How does living in the two family house affect their decision? Do you think the same choice would have been made if the families lived in separate homes?

4. Does Helen interfere too much in Rose’s daily life once the babies are born? When Helen and Rose have their argument in the coatroom, Rose says that Helen took both babies and left her with none. Is there any truth to this?

5. How do you feel about the way Mort and Rose handle Judith’s college news? Were you surprised that Rose didn’t stand up for Judith? Is Rose’s anxiety the main reason she doesn’t want Judith to live away from home, or are there other reasons?

6. The issue of nature vs. nurture runs throughout the novel. Which prevails in terms of shaping the identities of Natalie and Teddy? What qualities do the children take from their natural parents vs. their adoptive parents?

7. Discuss the ways in which each of the four adult characters cope with their grief after Teddy’s death. Whose reaction do you find the most surprising? For whom do you feel the most sympathy?

8. After Abe’s heart attack, Helen realizes for the first time how deceitful she has been. If Helen had told Abe the truth, do you think he would he have been able to forgive her?

9. Rose and Mort are the characters that change the most throughout the course of the book. Whose transformation do you find to be the most compelling? Is Teddy’s death, Natalie’s influence or Judith’s forgiveness the most important factor in Mort’s metamorphosis?

10. Throughout the book, Judith has the feeling she is missing something. Is it realistic to think she would be able to figure out the secret? Do you think she has an obligation to tell Natalie or Mort once she knows the truth?

11. Rose is obviously bothered by the attention Mort pays to Natalie, but why is Rose so upset when Mort finally becomes close to Judith? Which relationship bothers Rose the most?

12. Do you think Mort gets off too easily at the end of the novel? Would he suffer more if he knew the truth about Natalie and Teddy?

Suggested by Members

Could you have put yourself or family in this position?
How would you have changed the ending?
Did you have a favorite character?
by books4glo (see profile) 07/05/17

We used those at the at the end of the book but we had enough discussion about was going on in the book itself .
by Suehobbs (see profile) 10/21/16

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "The Two-Family House"by Doris N. (see profile) 09/13/17

Our group had a great discussion and agreed that this book was well worth reading. At times the circumstances seemed a little stretched, but the family dynamics and the character development were real... (read more)

  "The Two Family House"by Linda M. (see profile) 08/27/17

I enjoyed the book very much. The characters each had differing personalities. It was exciting watching Natalie pull Mort out of his shell. He had been so reluctant to talk with people. Our book group... (read more)

by Cindy H. (see profile) 09/27/19

by Dawn O. (see profile) 08/26/19

by Terry C. (see profile) 07/15/19

by Geraldine W. (see profile) 08/12/18

by Sarah S. (see profile) 04/21/18

by Heather S. (see profile) 04/16/18

The author did not develop the characters.

by Peggy E. (see profile) 03/23/18

by Lynda W. (see profile) 08/19/17

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