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With Kisses on Both Cheeks

With Kisses on Both Cheeks by Elizabeth Kata
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The 1960s were a time of contrasts; of a younger generation resisting the constrictive attitudes of their parents, and parents looking on with incredulity at their children's liberal ideals and alien lifestyles. In title novella 'With Kisses on Both Cheeks' Kata encapsulates this time of flux within the Kay household. Julie Kay, the only child of conservative suburban parents, looks with longing at the free loving atmosphere of the migrant family next door. Desperate for friendship, she sneaks into this forbidden world and begins a double life, that of light and warmth with the Bitinas, and that of smothering control at home. When Julie finally moves out, her rebellion leads her to a way of life so far from her upbringing that it may be too progressive even for her.

The short stories that make up the rest of the collection are an eclectic mix of themes, from the moving 'Friendship', where two families, one Jewish and one German, have their bond tested by the Second World War, to the bizarre and humorous 'The Gazing Ball' in which we see a lonely New York store assistant's obsession with a crystal ball.

With Kisses on Both Cheeks, first published in 1981, demonstrates Kata's remarkable ability to entertain with thoughtful and current themes, no matter what the subject matter.
Bloomsbury Publishing; October 2015
ISBN 9781448215560
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Title: With Kisses on Both Cheeks
Author: Elizabeth Kata