Solomon the Accountant

emkraussauthor@sbcglobal.net

Edward M. Krauss is a writer and mediator living in Columbus, Ohio. He is author of three novels: Solomon the Accountant, a gentle love story set in a middle-class Jewish community in 1950; Here on Moon, a story of deceit, divorce, and recovery; and A Story of Bad, two stories wound together, a murder mystery and a love story. He is also co-author of ON BEING THE BOSS, a book about effective crises management and the U.S. Constitution’s application in the workplace.

Recognition:
North American Bookdealers Exchange Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner for Fiction

  
 
 
  • Hardcover: 175 pages
  • Publisher: Devora Publishing (April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932687602
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932687606
Edward M. Krauss
Solomon the Accountant is the story of a young man who falls in love with Molly. He first meets her at the funeral of her husband, killed in an accident after less than a year of marriage. She is heartbroken and devastated, with a new love the last thing on her mind. Solomon’s effort gently, carefully to win Molly’s heart is the core of the novel.

The story is set in a middle-class Jewish community in Toledo, Ohio, in 1950. References to television shows, automobiles, the price of clothing, popular music, and other items have been carefully researched. The thread of Judaism, and Jewish home life, is woven throughout.

A side story involves Solomon’s best friend, Herman, and his girlfriend Deborah. She is ready to marry, he is almost but not quite, and Solomon is caught between them as they seek his advice and support.

The novel celebrates respect for family and elders, true love and long marriages, young love with an unusual situation to overcome, all with a sprinkling of Yiddish.

In the following excerpt, Solomon, after waiting an appropriate time, has asked the young widow on their first date - he is escorting her to Friday night services.

Excerpts from the book:

    Services started at seven-thirty. Solomon had promised he would pick her up at seven, and he pulled up in front of her apartment building at six-fifty. Actually he had left his apartment so early that he had driven slowly the entire way, cars passing him, and still had to sit a half block away for five minutes.

    Solomon felt a strange combination of giddy excitement and absolute calm. He went to her door, knocked twice, not too hard, and soon she opened the door. This time she had on a dark blue suit with a silk blue blouse in a lighter, complimentary shade, and a thin gold necklace. Her only other jewelry were her engagement and wedding rings. They greeted, then he walked behind her to the car. He wanted to be a gentleman, to take her elbow, but didn’t want to be too bold, maybe she wouldn’t want his touch. So he walked close, opened the car door. They drove the short distance to the synagogue in silence, each with their heads so full of thoughts they couldn’t decided what thing to say first, so they said nothing, the silence growing until it became impossible to break. Molly noticed how clean the car was, as she had noticed the cleaned office and the new cushion. When they arrived he parked then got out and walked around to her side of the car. When he opened the door he offered his hand to help her and she took it, her gloved hand light in his.

    People were arriving, single people, couples, families, older people helped by their adult children.  Molly was known to many of them, Solomon to some, since his family belonged to B’nai Israel, and that’s where he usually attended, but easily half of those attending knew Molly or Solomon or his parents or her deceased husband’s parents, and those people looked and noticed and tried not to stare, although a few did, and a few of those already seated even pointed discretely behind their prayer books and made short, whispered comments. Molly noticed but had expected, anticipated the looks and whispers, so she said hello to some, introduced Solomon to others, and he took her lead, relaxed a bit and greeted friends and acquaintances. Soon the service started, and they both got into the rituals, the familiar songs, the comfort of the prayers in Hebrew and English, the worship based on beliefs from so long ago, the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. L’dor Va’dor, from generation to generation. During the sermon, their prayer books closed, Solomon’s brain screamed at him to take her hand, but he resisted the urge, the desire.

    The Oneg Shabbat was, as always, a calm, pleasant way to finish the week, first the service and then some time to chat with friends, sip tea or coffee, punch for the children, and eat from a display of twenty or more styles of cookies. Solomon favored the almond cookies, a swirled design with a drop of chewy cherry candy in the center. Molly loved the tiny squares of lemon cake, only a bite or two each, a single piece of walnut on the top of each square. As they walked into the large room that was used for wedding receptions, bar and bat mitzvah receptions and Purim festivals and lessons in Israeli folk dancing and other occasions of Jewish sharing, people worked at not noticing, not staring. Solomon asked her if she would like coffee or tea and she said tea, so he poured a cup for her and one for him. They walked towards the trays of cookies and as they chose he was approached by one of his clients. Talking a bit of shop after services was not unknown. At that moment Molly saw one of her friends, a woman who had attended her wedding, now very pregnant with her first child. Molly walked to her.

    "Hello, Susan. Looks like you’re serious about this pregnant thing.”

    “Oy, Molly, I can’t sit long, he presses on my bladder, I can stand only minutes until my swollen feet kvetch, forget about sleeping, all night long he’s doing pushups and running track like his father did. He should wait until high school to do his sprints, it would be fine with me, but no, three in the morning his little legs are churning.”

    “I hear a lot of ‘he,’ Susan. You sure?”

    “I think so, my mother thinks so, the doctor thinks so. So of course it will be a little girl.”

    “Of course.”

     “How soon?”

    “Three weeks, twenty-one days exactly, that’s the prediction. A little early is fine by me. Meanwhile Harvey has the room all ready, we don’t know a boy a girl, so we found some light blue wallpaper with pink flowers, that should work for either sex for a few years. Did I just say sex? Nine minutes for the man, nine months for the woman. Such a deal! And for the first six months Harvey was still finishing his residency, so I never saw him. Which was good for him, he was spared three months of listening to me throw up. Oh, sorry, terrible thing to say as you try to eat lemon cake.”

    Molly laughed. “That won’t stop me. Watch” she said, finishing off the small yellow square. “So how is the doctor?”

    “He’s fine, knock wood. Look at him over there with his head together with Toplosky and Miller. Three doctors. Wonder if it’s medicine or golf they’re talking about? Not that he got to golf much the last year, but next summer he’ll be out there.”

    “Best place to get sick is a hospital, next best is a shul.”

    “Yeah, and Miller’s OB - GYN. I go into early labor he can deliver the baby right here.”

    Molly laughed again.

    “So Molly, are we good enough friends for me to ask about the man you were sitting with?”

    “Is there some way I could say no to that question?” As Susan looked a bit stricken Molly hurried to assure her. “I’m teasing, Susan, yes we are certainly good enough friends, and I’m glad to tell you. His name is Solomon Wohlman, he’s an accountant, has his own shop. He came to the house when we were sitting Shiva, knew someone in Darren’s family, I think. Anyway, we didn’t… I don’t have an accountant, never needed one, but Darren, may he rest in peace, had an insurance policy and I didn’t know what the best thing was to do with it. Not that it’s a fortune, it isn’t… who buys that kind of insurance? But it was enough that I wanted some good advice, so I asked him and he gave it, really good, clear advice.”

    “So then… wait, the feet just quit on me. Please, come sit a minute.” They walked over to where padded folding chairs were lined up against one wall and sat, one chair between them so they could turn toward each other. “OK, so if this is not a good question, now you really could tell me to get lost.”

    “You want to know what giving me investment advice has to do with Friday night services.”

    “Yes, I should be so bold.”

    “He asked to take me, I said yes. There’s really nothing else to say.”

    “I’m sorry, that was a tacky thing for me to ask.”

    “No it wasn’t. Lots of other people here wondering, I see their eyes turning then turning away. Think it looks like a date to them? Looks like one to me.”

    “You know, we, some of the girls and me, we thought you’d move back home, Chicago, right?”

    “Yes, I thought about it, but I don’t want to go through packing and moving and looking for another job, and my mother would mother me to death, it just wouldn’t work. I like being a school secretary, and I’m thinking maybe I’ll go back to college, get a teaching degree. At least I’m going to go talk to them, see what it would take, how long.”

    “Good for you. You know if you ever need anything….”

    “Thank you. Everyone has been so kind. It’s really amazing.”

    “We look after our own.”

    “Yes we do, but the warmth, the love, its not just yiddishkayt … it’s also been others, Darren’s co-workers, even though he was there such a short time, and my people from school. Lots of love from everyone.”

    Susan reached over, patted her hand. “Good…good.” She paused. “Well, time to take the doctor home, I can spend a few minutes with him. You know what’s good about being married to an orthopedist? They give great massages, know all those muscles and connecting parts.”

    “Those muscles and connecting parts can lead to more children, I’ve been told.”

    “Five, no more. Oy, listen to me, four more times I’m committing to!”

    They hugged briefly then separated. As Molly walked toward Solomon he saw her coming and seemed to conclude his conversation, shaking hands with the man he was talking to and starting to walk towards her.

    “You didn’t have to stop for me, I’m in no hurry.”

    “No, thanks for rescuing me…. I’m happy he’s a success already, enough with the celebration. I’ve heard the story twice before. Are you ready to leave?”

    “Yes.”

    On the way home they talked briefly, mostly Molly talking about Susan and the impending birth, Solomon listening, driving oh so carefully. He walked her to her door, his brain screaming at him again, this time to take her in his arms and kiss her sweet mouth, but reason prevailed, and when she offered her hand for a shake and said “Thank you” he shook it and said “You’re welcome” and then she was in her apartment and he was heading back to his car, happy and a little dizzy from how much he wanted to speak to her of love.

Solomon the Accountant
North American Bookdealers Exchange
Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner for Fiction



Review:

    Solomon the Accountant is a tender love story set in Toledo, Ohio, in the 1950s. Solomon is a rather nebbishy fellow who falls in love with the beautiful, newly widowed Molly. He is painfully aware of her recent loss, yet she becomes the focal point of his life. He hopes that someday - regardless of how long he has to wait - the broken wings of her spirit will mend and she will soar toward a new future with him. 

    While Solomon wrestles with his feelings for Molly, she is dealing with her own emotional issues. Facing life after the death of her beloved husband less than a year after they stood under the chupah (wedding canopy) seems almost incomprehensible to the young widow.

    In addition to portraying a touching love story, the author beautifully recreates a bygone era - a time when a silk tie cost $1.60, a “comfortable house in a good neighborhood” could be purchased for $12,000, and nice Jewish boys still nervously asked the father for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

    Krauss, a writer and professional mediator, probes gently into the emotional psyche, exploring with clarity the crushing loss of death, the tenuous struggles to begin anew, the joys and complications of relationships, and the wonder of newfound love.

    A surprisingly poignant book.


-Stephanie Garber, Contributing Writer
  December, 2007


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