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Heir to the Glimmering World by Cynthia Ozick
This book is titled The Bear Boy in the UK
The narrator of Heir to the Glimmering World is Rose Meadows. an 18-year old orphan who takes a job in 1935 as an assistant Rudolf Mitwisser, a Jewish scholar whose family barely escaped Nazi Germany. While Rudolf buries himself in his research of an ancient Jewish sect, his wife, once a prominent physicist, becomes a recluse spending all day in bed. While Rose expects to help with the research, she finds herself managing his wife and the five children instead. The family's benefactor is James A'bair, the son of a famous children's author who used him as the subject of his books. The price that James extracts for his help to the Mitwissers may cause Rose to be drawn inside the drama of this strange family. Cynthia Ozick's novel of unlikely outsiders looking for their place in a new world has drawn high praise from most reviewers. The Boston Globe says, "Heir to the Glimmering World is a tour de force of a vision and voice that reflect a compassionate intelligence we are most fortunate to have in our world, which inevitably glimmers when Ozick gets hold of it."