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HIDDEN spans the years 1917 to 1928, which is a time of great
turmoil and change in America: world war, Prohibition, the Roaring
Twenties. This lengthy novel tells the story of two disparate
families: the Gates family --- headed by Joe, who is wealthy,
powerful, and highly regarded both politically and socially --- and
the Warshinsky family, headed by impractical, impoverished Viktor,
a Russian Jewish immigrant. Jed Gates and David Warshinsky meet
while enlisting in the Army; their chance encounter sets the stage
for the two families and their many layers of secrets to become
forever entwined.

In 1917, Joe's grandson Jed enlists in the army to obtain some
freedom from his overly controlling mother. David enlists to escape
grinding poverty and racial discrimination. These two teenage boys
quickly become men when dealing with the stark reality of the
battlefield, which in essence is "kill or be killed."

When the war ends Jed returns home from France with David in tow.
David has decided to leave his former life and his nuclear family
behind. No longer will he be thought of as a poor Jewish immigrant
--- he now calls himself David Shaw. Joe, ever the patriarch,
quickly takes David under his wing. He senses in David driving
ambition, keen instincts, and a willingness to do whatever is
required to accomplish his objectives. These are qualities that Joe
believes are absolutely lacking in Jed, whom he feels doesn't have
a backbone. Joe has no use for what he perceives as weaknesses of
any kind, and David readily becomes the old man's understudy in
Joe's multiple business holdings. Jed is still the heir apparent
and is unaware that Joe considers him incapable of one day running
the Gates empire. Jed and David are as close as brothers, and Jed
harbors no jealousy toward David who is rapidly becoming a part of
the family.

The novel is titled HIDDEN for a very good reason: everyone is
hiding something. David has turned his back on his own family and
is hiding his true identity from everyone he encounters. Jed is
fiercely guarding a secret that he firmly believes will totally
destroy him one day --- his sexual orientation. Zoe, Jed's aunt,
creates excuses for her husband Monty, an alcoholic and wife beater
who tries to conceal his greed and callowness under a veneer of
false politeness. David's sister Sarah hides her knowledge of
David's whereabouts from their family. Jed's rebellious sister Lucy
omits her family name so she can work as a nurse in Margaret
Sanger's new birth control clinic. Zoe, a riding instructor, takes
a serious tumble from Sirocco, her favorite horse, and is found
dead; Monty has a secret about this accident. Jed marries Abby to
please his mother and attempt to quiet his torments. He has been in
love ever since he first met David, who has no knowledge of Jed's
feelings nor is he aware of Lucy's other secret --- her love for

The storyline ebbs and flows along with the tragedies and triumphs
that befall the two families. Much of the book deals with the
contrast of lifestyles these clans experience. The reader is given
a behind-the-scenes look at working in a sweatshop --- which the
Warshinsky family is very familiar with --- and summering in a
mansion on Oyster Bay with the Gates family and their guests. As
secrets are revealed and then dealt with, the book heads toward its
powerful conclusion.

Debut novelist Victoria Lustbader has created a huge cast of
believable characters, bringing their lives vividly to life in this
very interesting book. HIDDEN would lend itself quite easily to
becoming a mini-series or made-for-television movie.

Reviewed by Carole Turner on January 22, 2011

by Victoria Lustbader

  • Publication Date: June 13, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 0765315564
  • ISBN-13: 9780765315564