What do a middle-aged, married volunteer firefighter on Long Island and a 21-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman from Far Rockaway who longs to be an actress have in common? The answer: an 18th-century man reincarnated as a fly, which may not clear things up immediately, but let novelist Rebecca Miller try.
In 18th-century France, Jacob Cerf leaves his traditional Judaism behind for a life integrated into the mainstream culture. The pawn in a bet to see if Jews can shed their “Jewishness” or if it is innate, Jacob succumbs to the pressures exerted on him and the temptations offered. He is happy to be rid of the juvenile and sickly wife to whom he is married and ove