Some Friendships Are Stronger Than War, Just Ask ‘Bess and Frima’ [REVIEW]

Bess and Frima

Theirs is a friendship that would endure politics, marriage, and even war. (Photo courtesy Julie Metz)

Two girls on the cusp of womanhood. Two lives irrevocably intertwined. In the face of World War II, each must make decisions that will shape their destinies and alter the course of their lives forever. But which dreams will they pursue and will fate ultimately tear them apart? Find out in Alice Rosenthal’s new historical novel, Bess and Frima, a coming-of-age story about friendship, family, and daring to be different.

She Writes Press

Bess Erlichman and Frima Eisner are two Jewish girls from the Bronx, both beautiful in their own right and each full of ideas about what their futures will bring. At 19, they are best friends, both on their way to hotel jobs in the Catskills during the summer of 1940. Yet this is where the similarities end.

Frima, blonde, slender and ever graceful has simple tastes. She dreams of falling in love with someone familiar, the boy she’s crushed on forever, her best friend’s brother Jack.

Meanwhile, Bess has become an arresting beauty with a statuesque figure and captivating eyes looking to change the status quo. Drawn toward the dangerous side of life, she gets lost in the arms an Italian-American bad boy named Vinny who is the antithesis of what a typical Jewish mother looks for in a son-in-law.

With Bess and Frima, Rosenthal captures how two very different girls can forge a devoted friendship that faces not only the impending war, but also society’s carefully adhered to mores regarding family and tradition. Even as each of her characters struggles to define the woman they want to become and pursue the dreams they want to achieve, she plumbs their hidden inner lives with bravado and careful attention to detail.

For those who love stories like Iris Rainer Dart’s Beaches, Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, or even Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, Rosenthal’s latest is a welcome addition to the shelves of novels regarding female friendships. Lyrically drawn, beautifully evoked, and utterly captivating, Bess and Frima will live on in your memory long after the last page is turned.

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Alice Rosenthal


Alice Rosenthal was born and raised in 1941 in the same Bronx neighborhood as her protagonists, though a generation later. After receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NYU, she married, divorced, and settled in the Village-Chelsea area of Manhattan, where she maintained her lifestyle by copyediting for academic presses.

In 1976, she moved to San Francisco and began a new worklife teaching ESL at City College of San Francisco. She loves reading, gardening, baking, cooking, making things with her hands, and shmoozing with her friends and family.

She is the author of the novel Take the D Train, as well as articles published in the San Francisco Chronicle and Jewish Currents Magazine. Visit her home on the Web at

By Alice Rosenthal
304 pgs. She Writes Press. $16.95

Purchase Bess and Frima at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound and Powell’s.

Bess and Frima is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Some Friendships Are Stronger Than War, Just Ask ‘Bess and Frima’ [REVIEW]

  1. This so sounds like a book I’d love … these women, and the time and place they live in, are certain to capture my imagination.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  2. Pingback: Alice Rosenthal, author of Bess & Frima, on tour October 2018 | TLC Book Tours

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