I don't remember whether I officially put Heir to the Glimmering World
on my to-be-read list when I read a review from Powell's (if you're a big reader and you need new suggestions for reading material, get on the powells.com review-a-day email. They cull reviews from good periodical sources like Esquire, Vanity Fair, Atlantic Monthly, etc. and I probably end up with several new must-reads every month, and forward others to people I think would be interested), but I remembered the title when I saw it on the library bookstore's shelf, which indicates I was at least intrigued by the review.
Regardless of the absence of a compelling plotline, Cynthia Ozick's writing grabs you and pulls you into this tale of displaced people in 1930s New York - primarily the narrator, a young woman badly raised by a ne'er-do-well father and eventually fobbed off on a relative, who does right by her until his own choices squeeze her out, sending her off to a questionable and ill-defined position in the household of an immigrant family of scholars. They have been forced from their homeland by the Nazi regime and now depend on the largesse of an unseen (at least for the first third of the book) and erratic benefactor who as a little boy was the unwitting and eventually unwilling star of his father's series of children's books.
The book is about choices (often the lack of them), and obsessions, and denial, and the freedom money gives you, and caretakers, and ultimately I can't say I really *liked* it. Once the framework of the story had been laid down, I found too much repetition of particular themes: the benefactor's resentment of his twisted childhood; the mother's ebb and flow from function to dysfunction to function again, fed by different characters' willingness or ability to coddle her; the poorly fleshed-out, nearly interchangeable sons who dash through the scene and make inappropriate and pointless comments to the narrator. Ultimately, all are left in a sort of limbo, subject to the influence of next person who is injected into this motley group, and not really going anywhere.