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Shall I Say a Kiss?

Like couples since the beginning of time, Morris Davis and Eva Weintrobe began in 1936 the tenuous process of pursuing a romance together. Historically, their courtship by correspondence offers a rare and remarkable record of the "lived lives" of two Deaf, Jewish, British individuals in a portentous era that included the Great Depression and the antecedents of World War II. However, except for the keen, contextual observations offered by their editor (and son) Lennard J. Davis, Morris and Eva referred to these matters only when they became impediments to their shared goal of marriage. That this couple was deaf only arises in passing remarks about social events sponsored by a Deaf club. That they had to overcome bias because they were deaf and Jewish became a more insidious difficulty, as shown in the letters they exchanged with United States Immigration officials who worked to prevent Eva's move to America. Because most of the letters presented in Shall I Say a Kiss? are Eva's, the heart of this book lies in the expression of her changing emotions as a young woman asked to leave her family and country for an ardent suitor whom she sometimes found too forward. The course of her feelings can be seen to change subtly by noting the formality of her courteous salutations contrasted by evermore affectionate closings - "With best love & shall I say a kiss." Throughout, Eva never loses sight of the realities of their time. She frequently mentions as fact, not complaint, her constant workload as a seamstress. Ultimately, Eva's vision wins out, as her final letters in 1938 disclose her preparations to join Morris in America.
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