RYE WRITES

0:00 Oh, the Sagas Florence Kraut Tells Family tales have been a meaningful part of Florence Reiss Kraut’s life for as long as she can […]

Published November 30, 2023 4:40 PM
2 min read

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Oh, the Sagas Florence Kraut Tells

Family tales have been a meaningful part of Florence Reiss Kraut’s life for as long as she can remember. “My mother was one of 11 children, my father one of four — and there was intermarriage,” she joked during a recent interview over coffee in her kitchen. 

Kraut dreamed of becoming a writer and telling her own stories, but her practical side won out and she became a social worker, counselor, and therapist instead. She spent most of her career at a large social services agency in Norwalk. “Those years are stories, too!” she noted.

Meanwhile, the mother of three found time to pen young adult books. “None of them were actually published, but I got close!” she said brightly. 

When she retired in 2018, Kraut knew exactly what she wanted to do. 

Her first novel, “How to Make a Life,” started out as short stories. It was published on her birthday, Oct. 12, 2020. Book tours didn’t happen during the pandemic, so the industrious writer Zoomed with book clubs across the country. 

Her second novel, “Street Corner Dreams,” took her 18 months to write and was released last month. She is on a writing roll.

When asked to describe her novels, Kraut, the grandmother of nine, replied: “They are suspenseful family sagas. I write about the experience of the family dynamic, but not my own family. These are works of fiction. I did years of research.”

She writes about the struggles of those who left pogroms and made their way to America in search of better lives. The transitions were long and rarely seamless. 

“When I was reading the stories of Jewish immigrants who lived in tenements on Manhattan’s lower East Side, before and after World War I, there was always a gangster in their family,” she noted with a combination of amusement and amazement. “Therein lies part of the suspense in my stories!”

What does she read for pleasure? Mysteries, especially those by masters of the craft who take delight in depicting the family dynamics of their respective detectives — Inspector Gamache in Louise Penny’s case, Commissario Brunetti in Donna Leon’s long-running series set in Venice.

Don’t be surprised if Florence Kraut comes out with her own series one day. She’s a good “detective,” who not only understands the workings of the human psyche from her years of working as a counselor, but also has, through writing and revising her prose, learned how to keep readers hooked.

Florence Kraut will be speaking about her novels at a program at the Rye Free Reading Room on Thursday, January 18 at 7 p.m. Director Chris Shoemaker is the interviewer. Save the date.

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