As an oil painting ages, its paint may become increasingly transparent, and sometimes the ghost of another painting that was painted over will reappear. When these occur, they are called “repentances.”
It is winter of 1936, in New York. As Europe slides inexorably toward war, the Jewish immigrant community in the city is desperate to get its loved ones from the old country to America. Nathan Ebanholz is one of these immigrants. He is about to make the final payment on his wife’s and young daughter’s passage to America. He has found an apartment in the Bronx. But Nathan’s joy is short-lived. The ship bringing Miri and Rayzela to America is already at sea, and they are not on board.
The novel is set in two parts. The first part deals with the consequences of a terrible lie. As a result, a crime is committed, two crimes in fact, a kidnapping and a murder. The lie and the subsequent crime impact the lives of all the characters. In the second part of the novel, the past and the present meet head-on.