by Elise Coop­er

Natasha Solomon­s’s lat­est book, The Gallery of Van­ished Hus­bands, is a por­trait of Juli­et Montague’s life from 1958 to 2006. She choos­es her own future by chal­leng­ing her world both cul­tur­al­ly and reli­gious­ly. Natasha’s main char­ac­ter looks upon her­self as an out­sider and strives for an inde­pen­dent iden­ti­ty with­out los­ing the close­ness of her par­ents and chil­dren.

Elise Coop­er: Every fic­tion­al author has a part of them­selves in their char­ac­ter. Is there a part of you in Juliet?

Natasha Solomons: Just like Juli­et, I have a com­plex rela­tion­ship with my Jew­ish iden­ti­ty. My moth­er is Jew­ish and my father is not. I was brought up in a com­plete­ly sec­u­lar house­hold. It is a gen­er­a­tional thing because my mom was also brought up that way. After her par­ents escaped from Ger­many dur­ing World War II they tried to assim­i­late into the Eng­lish cul­ture as much as pos­si­ble. How­ev­er, my back­ground is dif­fer­ent from Juliet’s because her fam­i­ly came to Eng­land much ear­li­er to escape the East Euro­pean Pogroms.

EC: Your main char­ac­ters have been Jew­ish and you include in your writ­ings many Jew­ish tra­di­tions from Yid­dish words to the cel­e­bra­tion of Shab­bat. Why?

NS: Every time I sit down I say to myself I am not going to write about a Jew­ish hero­ine but then look­ing back I have. I think it’s because I am fas­ci­nat­ed with it. My hus­band is Jew­ish and his fam­i­ly is tra­di­tion­al which has had an influ­ence on my writ­ings. I am con­stant­ly drawn to my Jew­ish cul­ture, which is reflect­ed in my work. As an author I need to write about what feels true for me.

EC: Why did you refer to Juliet’s par­ents by their last names, Mr. and Mrs. Greene, when the oth­er char­ac­ters were referred to by their first names?

NS: I had Juliet’s par­ents rep­re­sent the more for­mal era while con­trast­ing that with Juli­et who in many ways reject­ed their life, includ­ing falling in love with Max, a non-Jew. Juli­et wants some­thing dif­fer­ent from her par­ents’ lives. The sto­ry of Juliet’s per­son­al jour­ney is about lov­ing and admir­ing your fam­i­ly but not fit­ting into their world. Although she doesn’t share the reli­gious val­ues of her grown-up daugh­ter, Frie­da, or her par­ents, she obvi­ous­ly adores them. Even though she had the mon­ey to move away she remains in the heart of the sub­ur­ban Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. What is most impor­tant to her is her fam­i­ly, so in that way she is incred­i­bly tra­di­tion­al. She puts them above every­thing else. 

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Elise Coop­er lives in Los Ange­les and has writ­ten numer­ous nation­al secu­ri­ty arti­cles sup­port­ing Israel. She writes book reviews and Q and A’s for many dif­fer­ent out­lets includ­ing the Mil­i­tary Press. She has had the plea­sure to inter­view best­selling authors from many dif­fer­ent genres.