Review

The Matzo Ball Heiress

by Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Read an
Excerpt


Author
Talk





As the holiday of Passover approaches, Heather Greenblotz is
gearing up for a typical observance: spending time alone and eating
decidedly non-kosher food at a time when most Jewish families
gather together. It wouldn't bother Heather so much to be without
her family at this time of year but for the fact that the
Greenblotzes manufacture kosher products, including the world's
most popular Passover matzo. What in the world would people think
if they knew how non-traditional the family really is?

Laurie Gwen Shapiro's second novel, THE MATZO BALL HEIRESS,
introduces Heather as she emotionally prepares for another
disappointing Passover. 31-year-old Heather is a successful
documentary filmmaker with two Emmy Awards to her credit, and her
involvement in the family business is minimal. Few people even know
she's a wealthy heiress to the Greenblotz family business, begun by
her grandfather Izzy many years ago. Every spring, however, she
helps out her cousin Jake (figurehead and CEO of the business)
during the busy Passover season. Otherwise, she is seemingly
disconnected from the world of traditional Judaism and kosher food.
One day, while filling in for Jake at the matzo factory, she is
interviewed by the Food Network and her Passover plans begin to
radically change.

After the success of the interview with the dashing Steve Meyers,
the Food Network wants to do a live broadcast of the Greenblotz
family Seder. Jake Greenblotz thinks it's an excellent idea and
that it will boost slumping sales. Heather, on the other hand, has
her doubts. The family, she reminds Jake, has never gathered
together for the ritual meal; her mother usually goes snorkeling,
her other cousins can't stand Heather or Jake, Jake's brother lives
like a playboy in Florida, and her father Sol, the only one who
could lead the seder and read Hebrew, was last heard from several
years ago when he moved (with no forwarding address) to
Amsterdam.

At the urging of her over-the-top therapist, Heather agrees to the
broadcast and begins to assemble relatives; when that fails, she
asks others to act as family members for the broadcast (including
Jake's Irish girlfriend Siobhan, who becomes Shoshana for the day).
But will the world be convinced by the staged Greenblotz
Seder?

Complicating the already sticky situation is Heather's entanglement
with on-air personality Steve Meyers and her growing fondness for
kosher cameraman Jared Silver.

With a little patience and faith, Heather survives a near
disastrous Seder and emerges with a new love in her life and a
newfound respect for her family and friends.

THE MATZO BALL HEIRESS is funny and sassy, and because it focuses
on a Jewish family's traditions (or lack thereof) and issues, it is
also unique. Heather Greenblotz is more than a typical Manhattan
socialite; she has depth and intelligence. Thus, Shapiro's novel
moves beyond the simple classification of Chick Lit, although it
retains the romance, sex and attitude. The writing here is light
and natural, a pleasure to read. And the humor is well balanced
with some of the weightier issues, such as religious observance,
identity and family dynamics. While Shapiro doesn't offer many
meaty insights into these issues, she doesn't shy away from them
either.

THE MATZO BALL HEIRESS is a fun and quickly read novel coming out
just as Jewish families across the world prepare to sit down
together to celebrate Passover. Chances are that some readers will
find their own families reflected in these pages. Others will be
treated to a good story.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on January 22, 2011

The Matzo Ball Heiress
by Laurie Gwen Shapiro

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Red Dress Ink
  • ISBN-10: 0373250533
  • ISBN-13: 9780373250530