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Charlotte Mendelson

When We Were Bad

Average Rating:out of 5 stars
Walmart # 559673363
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About This Item

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By all outward appearances, the Rubins are the perfect family: brilliant, successful, enviably close-knit. Then an event of great joy and celebration — the marriage of the eldest son — urns to chaos when the groom jilts his bride and runs off with a married woman. It’s a shock to everyone in their small Jewish community, most of all to matriarch Claudia, a successful rabbi. In the wake of this one defiant act, the floodgates to a ruinous wave of gossip are opened, and the secrets that the Rubins have been keeping from one another begin to spill forth. All four adult Rubin children and their parents ultimately must come to terms with their own inner desires and identities. When We Were Bad gives a warm, poignant, and honest portrayal of a family in crisis, in love, in denial, and, ultimately, in luck.

Specifications

Language
English
Publisher
HMH Books
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
336
Author
Charlotte Mendelson
Title
When We Were Bad
ISBN-13
9780547085920
Publication Date
September, 2008
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.25 x 5.50 x 7.70 Inches
ISBN-10
0547085923

Customer Reviews

Average Rating:(3.7)out of 5 stars
5 stars
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Most helpful positive review
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
Oh my. Charlotte Mend...
Oh my. Charlotte Mendelson, you sly one, you. Who knew that the erstwhile Booker nominee had written a novel that would totally consume me in the reckless manner that it did? The fact that I could barely stand to set it down for a minute only added to the overall satisfaction of a tightly written narrative, filled with witty observations and characters that you come to care about even though they have few redeeming characteristics. Claudia Rubin is at the height of her powers: wife, mother, rabbi and moral authority for all, she is holding forth at the wedding of her oldest son, Leo, when the unthinkable happens. He bolts and runs off with none other than the wife of a fellow rabbi. Oi, the embarrassment! But that's just the start as her family begins to unravel and Mendelson is there to report every misstep and unpeel the layers, one by one. Never has a mother's suffocating hold on her family been more deservedly challenged. She is so consumed by this incident that she fails to notice that her oldest daughter, Frances, is in the throes of post-natal depression. Youngest son Simeon is in a drug fueled haze and daughter Emily brings an unusual young man home (or is it a woman?). Meanwhile, patriarch Norman has been working, secretly, on a bombshell book that will bring him much more notoriety than anything his much more famous wife has published. Claudia takes everything in stride and Mendelson describes her philosophy with an astonishing eye for detail: "Claudia, running her fingertips over the plaster, thinks of skiing. A terrible sport: the ice, the pain, the slicing metal. It has, however, one thing in its favour. It demonstrates perfectly how best to lead one's life. Simply the image of herself speeding over metaphorical moguls while other people, more earnest and dangly earringed, plough through the snowdrifts, emoting, discussing, sharing, has always cheered her." (Page 216) This is a wonderful literary comedy that will remind you of the ramshackle lives of people you know and will make you laugh out loud. Very highly recommended.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
I got this book after ...
I got this book after reading all the great reviews by other readers. However, I just could not get into this plot at all. The story had a hard time capturing my interest and I did not even have the desire to finish this book.
Most helpful positive review
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
Oh my. Charlotte Mend...
Oh my. Charlotte Mendelson, you sly one, you. Who knew that the erstwhile Booker nominee had written a novel that would totally consume me in the reckless manner that it did? The fact that I could barely stand to set it down for a minute only added to the overall satisfaction of a tightly written narrative, filled with witty observations and characters that you come to care about even though they have few redeeming characteristics. Claudia Rubin is at the height of her powers: wife, mother, rabbi and moral authority for all, she is holding forth at the wedding of her oldest son, Leo, when the unthinkable happens. He bolts and runs off with none other than the wife of a fellow rabbi. Oi, the embarrassment! But that's just the start as her family begins to unravel and Mendelson is there to report every misstep and unpeel the layers, one by one. Never has a mother's suffocating hold on her family been more deservedly challenged. She is so consumed by this incident that she fails to notice that her oldest daughter, Frances, is in the throes of post-natal depression. Youngest son Simeon is in a drug fueled haze and daughter Emily brings an unusual young man home (or is it a woman?). Meanwhile, patriarch Norman has been working, secretly, on a bombshell book that will bring him much more notoriety than anything his much more famous wife has published. Claudia takes everything in stride and Mendelson describes her philosophy with an astonishing eye for detail: "Claudia, running her fingertips over the plaster, thinks of skiing. A terrible sport: the ice, the pain, the slicing metal. It has, however, one thing in its favour. It demonstrates perfectly how best to lead one's life. Simply the image of herself speeding over metaphorical moguls while other people, more earnest and dangly earringed, plough through the snowdrifts, emoting, discussing, sharing, has always cheered her." (Page 216) This is a wonderful literary comedy that will remind you of the ramshackle lives of people you know and will make you laugh out loud. Very highly recommended.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
I got this book after ...
I got this book after reading all the great reviews by other readers. However, I just could not get into this plot at all. The story had a hard time capturing my interest and I did not even have the desire to finish this book.
Oh my. Charlotte Mendelson, you sly one, you. Who knew that the erstwhile Booker nominee had written a novel that would totally consume me in the reckless manner that it did? The fact that I could barely stand to set it down for a minute only added to the overall satisfaction of a tightly written narrative, filled with witty observations and characters that you come to care about even though they have few redeeming characteristics. Claudia Rubin is at the height of her powers: wife, mother, rabbi and moral authority for all, she is holding forth at the wedding of her oldest son, Leo, when the unthinkable happens. He bolts and runs off with none other than the wife of a fellow rabbi. Oi, the embarrassment! But that's just the start as her family begins to unravel and Mendelson is there to report every misstep and unpeel the layers, one by one. Never has a mother's suffocating hold on her family been more deservedly challenged. She is so consumed by this incident that she fails to notice that her oldest daughter, Frances, is in the throes of post-natal depression. Youngest son Simeon is in a drug fueled haze and daughter Emily brings an unusual young man home (or is it a woman?). Meanwhile, patriarch Norman has been working, secretly, on a bombshell book that will bring him much more notoriety than anything his much more famous wife has published. Claudia takes everything in stride and Mendelson describes her philosophy with an astonishing eye for detail: "Claudia, running her fingertips over the plaster, thinks of skiing. A terrible sport: the ice, the pain, the slicing metal. It has, however, one thing in its favour. It demonstrates perfectly how best to lead one's life. Simply the image of herself speeding over metaphorical moguls while other people, more earnest and dangly earringed, plough through the snowdrifts, emoting, discussing, sharing, has always cheered her." (Page 216) This is a wonderful literary comedy that will remind you of the ramshackle lives of people you know and will make you laugh out loud. Very highly recommended.
I got this book after reading all the great reviews by other readers. However, I just could not get into this plot at all. The story had a hard time capturing my interest and I did not even have the desire to finish this book.

Frequent mentions

1-5 of 6 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Oh my. Charlotte Mend...

Oh my. Charlotte Mendelson, you sly one, you. Who knew that the erstwhile Booker nominee had written a novel that would totally consume me in the reckless manner that it did? The fact that I could barely stand to set it down for a minute only added to the overall satisfaction of a tightly written narrative, filled with witty observations and characters that you come to care about even though they have few redeeming characteristics. Claudia Rubin is at the height of her powers: wife, mother, rabbi and moral authority for all, she is holding forth at the wedding of her oldest son, Leo, when the unthinkable happens. He bolts and runs off with none other than the wife of a fellow rabbi. Oi, the embarrassment! But that's just the start as her family begins to unravel and Mendelson is there to report every misstep and unpeel the layers, one by one. Never has a mother's suffocating hold on her family been more deservedly challenged. She is so consumed by this incident that she fails to notice that her oldest daughter, Frances, is in the throes of post-natal depression. Youngest son Simeon is in a drug fueled haze and daughter Emily brings an unusual young man home (or is it a woman?). Meanwhile, patriarch Norman has been working, secretly, on a bombshell book that will bring him much more notoriety than anything his much more famous wife has published. Claudia takes everything in stride and Mendelson describes her philosophy with an astonishing eye for detail: "Claudia, running her fingertips over the plaster, thinks of skiing. A terrible sport: the ice, the pain, the slicing metal. It has, however, one thing in its favour. It demonstrates perfectly how best to lead one's life. Simply the image of herself speeding over metaphorical moguls while other people, more earnest and dangly earringed, plough through the snowdrifts, emoting, discussing, sharing, has always cheered her." (Page 216) This is a wonderful literary comedy that will remind you of the ramshackle lives of people you know and will make you laugh out loud. Very highly recommended.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

When We Were Bad by Ch...

When We Were Bad by Charlotte Mendelson: While I found the very first part of this book boring, about 1/8th of the way in it sucked me in and I read the rest in a fervor. Hopefully I have my reading 'mojo' back now. The story of a very dysfunctional family with 4 questionably adult children, this book is all about the need of all to 'feed the queen bee'. The 'queen bee' being in this case the mother of the family, Claudia Rubin, who is a beautiful woman and a Rabbi. Her husband and the father of her children, Norman, a secretly would-be author, writes articles and essays, etc. from home....in their house which is badly need of repair. The eldest daughter, Frances, has no self confidence, no feelings of self worth and has married a man her mother chose for her who is the father of two young daughters and together the couple have an infant son. They have their own flat & she works outside the home while her husband plays house-husband but does it well. She is uninvolved with the children, and husband. At least as much as she can be. The eldest son, Leo, works, lives at home, is engaged to be married to a nice Jewish girl but has fallen in love with a Rabbi's middle aged wife, the mother of grown children. Much to the chagrin & embarrassment of the families & congregations involved, he leaves his bride at the alter and runs off with the lady. The younger son, Simeon, does not work, lives at home, is nocturnal eating only at night & leaves the kitchen a mess. He does drugs in the home of his parents and brings friends and girlfriends home as well. The youngest daughter, Emily, has her own flat, but in general lives at home. She occasionally attempts to get parts in plays & that sort of thing but in general does not work either. These are 'children' in their late twenties & early thirties. At the onset of the book, other than the indiscretion of Leo, the children & husband live only to make the Rabbi and matriarch look good. Claudia goes all out at Passover time and for all the Jewish feasts. She prepares all of the Jewish kosher foods and all of the family is there plus many from the congregation and community. She and her family are much the focus of this bunch. So this story is of the good deeds & of the failings of family members and the reaction of all, or more so the fear of the reaction to all to these events. The book is laugh out loud funny at times and tearfully sad at others. I enjoyed this read so much and hope to find other works by this same author. I rated When We Were Bad 4 stars and recommend it.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

The Rubin family is co...

The Rubin family is completely dysfunctional, but to outsiders they appear to be quite the opposite. The family turns on the edicts of its matriarch, Claudia , London't most renowned rabbi. The family is expected to act as a single-minded unit. The children are not supposed to leave home and live lives of their own. The younger two are utterly incapable of functioning as adults anyway. And then the family starts to fall apart. It begins with Leo Rubin's running away from his own wedding with another woman. And then they fall like dominoes. This book is about a seemingly perfect family falling apart in a highly comical way. Mendelson has a knack for writing comedy into small human actions. The family manages to be completely irritating and somewhat charming at the same time. By the end of the book I had developed real affection for Norm, the husband, and Frances, the eldest daughter. I was cheering both of them on to rebellion. Claudia and the younger son, Simeon, were a bit harder to stomach. Still the book is well-worth reading for the rich and entertaining world that Mendelson has drawn around the Rubin family.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

I enjoyed this novel. ...

I enjoyed this novel. It had good narrative drive, made me smile at times added to which there was some excellent conversation. I did have to suspend quite a lot of disbelief at the two eldest adult children's slow emancipation as fully developed free-thinking individual but overall very readable.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

I loved this. It was ...

I loved this. It was a great read and also perceptive in its understanding of family dynamics.

Helpful?

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