DOWN UNDER is a serio-comic faux biography of a famous actor, Colm Eriksen, who declines from virile international screen star to aging, paranoid wreck. The novel creates a backstory in which the iconic hero, born as Collum Whitsun, grows up poor and battered in upstate New York, the only light in his life a fellow high school sophomore—the bourgeois, Jewish Judy Pincus. Judy and Collum fall passionately into young love, but she abandons him when his father decides to whisk the family off to Australia. Decades later, Collum, a fallen angel with nothing to lose, returns to settle scores with or renew his lost romance. The love of his youth, now a woman in middle-aged, married torpor, meets him more than halfway.
R E V I E W S
“Sonia Taitz takes you Down Under. Boom.”
– Vanity Fair
Rave Review for DOWN UNDER from Jewish Book Council!
Time Out Magazine says:
“If Romeo and Juliet were a star-crossed Catholic teen and Jewish girl who reconnect after 20 or so years, well, then Shakespeare’s Classic would have been Taitz’s latest Novel of romance, Nostalgia, and Hope.”
“Sonia Taitz knows a lot about people: how they are, what they want, ‘the broken-hearted child that often lies beyond the rise and fall… of complex people who self-destruct.’ No one knows more about what she calls emotional kamikazes.'”
— Jesse Kornbluth, critic, essayist for The New Yorker, Editor of Headbutler.com
From Foreword Reviews:
“Taitz’s style will appeal to an intellectual audience that craves more than a stereotypical rendering of ardent relationships.
In this Poignant story of love derailed, a renowned actor returns to his first flame, only to discover that romantic opportunities are more complicated the second time around. Down Under, by Sonia Taitz, examines the brutality of an anti-Semitic father saturated in alcohol, and the long-term consequences he inflicts upon lovers destined to be together, yet cruelly torn apart.
Timeworn and seeking answers from his past, Collum Whitsun attempts to rekindle his friendship with the girl once hungry for him and for life. Unfortunately, her conservative Jewish parents laced her with skepticism. Jude Ewington is now a middle-aged mother dissatisfied with her lifestyle. He approaches her in an undercover manner, eliciting the carefree response he desires.
Taitz explores much more than a revitalized, star-crossed affair in this innovative twist on the contemporary romance novel. Tradition meets glitz meets realism in a carefully contrived, perhaps even philosophical, look at what happens when well-intended individuals attempt to alter what cannot be changed. Family obligations and overriding maturity are rarely romantic, and This perceptive glimpse of smothered passion, along with bad character traits, places this sophisticated title soundly into the mainstream. Taitz portrays a believable scenario with just a touch of fantasy to give the plot a Cinderella coach and an attentive driver but without a particularly uplifting destination.
Jude is a typical example of a woman taught to consider the needs of others before her own, a heroine who may have once manifested a stronger ability to love herself before attempting to love another. Traditional marriage, with all the accoutrements of material comfort and superficial contentment, is an underlying motivator throughout the pages of this book. The mood is one of excitement dampened by expectation.
Sonia Taitz is a prolific and critically acclaimed novelist. based in New York City. Down Under reaches into the realm of unforgotten desire and stirs the deepest and the sincerest emotions that remain dormant within us all.”
Excerpt From Down Under
The Middle, or the Muddle
In the middle of the journey of her life, Jude Ewington realizes that she is starting to see lapses in the looks department. For a once-handsome woman, these downturns hurt, the losses as portentous as a rich man’s failing fortune. Some small restitution might be made – the equivalent of cents on the dollar – and rather than bemoaning this fractional comfort, Jude tries to embrace it. Products are available and she buys them; they promise to restore the appearance of a viable sexual allure. And buying them is action. It is dynamic, almost lusty, to care this much. At this particular moment (the eve of another birthday whose number insults her), Jude stands gamely in front of her mirror, wrangling the hooks and eyes of a waist-cincher. Her face reddens in a tug of war against time, that flesh-destroyer. Rage, rage, against the dying of delight – or buy the right foundation garment.
A feminist, a reader, intelligent and educated, Jude has to laugh at the irony. Having started her life on a par with any male, she now willingly tortures herself in ways they rarely would. The boned garment with which she wrestles was forced on women in more benighted centuries. Worse, still, are the anatomically incorrect shoes – too tight, too high, too pointy. Modern women bought such daggered monstrosities in order to follow the fiat: Seduce. This kind of self-inflicted pain – so female – was now oddly deemed macho, not masochistic. But no settled soul would stand it.
Jude had come of age in the heyday of sexual and gender revolutions. She knows that men are no longer conveyors of identity, status, or joy. She accepts that women can and should attain bliss on their own shoe-leather (however pointy). She has her accomplishments; she has had great moments independent of male company or opinion. Most, however, had occurred before desire had swept her away, weightless, and into their arms. She’d been an eager, curious girl until boys had entered the picture. Then her life had tilted as she leaned, eagerly, curiously, toward love. After that came marriage, home, and children. Yes, she worked (sporadically), but passion remained her narrative focus. Somehow, she’d been cast out as the lead. She’d had twin boys, which meant that three males circled her hearth, running towards it or away just as they pleased. So much of Jude’s life was conditional, vicarious.
She knows it all; she knows too much. But knowledge is not wisdom, and neither will affect a true desire. Nothing had ever felt as good as that first sweep of erotica, the brief touch of immortality that romance had once brought her. Jude is no pioneer right now; she wants to be a paramour. Like a courtesan, she needs to adore and be adored. After all these years, her chief wish is still to buckle up and rocket to the stars. She wants to shudder with love and relief as the truth reveals itself, crashing. What, she thinks, did these clomping years have to do with passion? They’d buried it. But wasn’t truth supposed to be timeless? And wasn’t love still the deepest source of truth?
Jude still feels that love is the deepest source of truth. She will excavate and find it once again.