Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category
IN MARRYING OF CHANI KAUFMAN, Eve Harris discloses the secrets of a Chasidic community in Golders Green, London, focusing on the tribulations of three families: the Kaufmans, Levys, and Zilbermans. The Kaufmans have eight daughters, one of whom, nineteen-year-old Chani, is seeking an intelligent, animated, and good-natured husband. The Levys, a well-to-do couple, want only the best for their son, Baruch, and plan to settle for nothing less. The Zilbermans are facing a major crisis. Rabbi Zilberman’s wife, Rivka, is no longer a contented spouse, mother, and homemaker; she is restless, edgy, and depressed. Adding to the tension is the fact that one of her sons, Avromi, a university student, is acting strangely. He is secretive, stays out late, and avoids telling his family where he has been.
April 7, 2014
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Grove Press, Hasidic Life, Jewishness, Life Choices, London, Loss, Married Life Â· Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Man Booker Nominee, United Kingdom, World Lit
In Sophie Hannah’s THE ORPHAN CHOIR, forty-one year old Louise Beeston may be on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Her creepy next-door neighbor, Justin Clay, plays loud music late at night, usually every other weekend. Although Louise has repeatedly implored him to stop, Clay is indifferent to her pleas. (Louise’s husband, Stuart, is oblivious to the cacophony. Even if a freight train were to pass through their bedroom, Stuart would remain asleep.) Unfortunately, Louise has little hope that Clay, a pot-smoking party animal who enjoys living it up with his loud-mouthed friends, will change his ways.
Karen Vail finds herself in a different role and a different country in NO WAY OUT, the fifth book in the series by Alan Jacobson. Karen, an FBI profiler, is sent to England to assist Scotland Yard in a theft of a key document that she finds out may show that Amelia Bassano Lanier, a woman who also happens to have been Jewish and black, actually was the author of all of the plays and poems attributed to William Shakespeare.
One of the aspects of this impressive debut by Anna Hope that makes me raise my hat is the effectiveness with which she handles its secondary thread. In italics interspersing the main story a page or two at a time, are little vignettes as British officials exhume the body of an unidentified soldier from the battlefields of Northern France, prepare it for a new coffin, and take it with due solemnity to its final resting place in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey. The vignettes, and the story that they enfold, span a five-day period leading up to November 11, 1920, the second anniversary of the Armistice. The First World War is over, but what has become of the survivors?
Almost as though in reference to the title of her best novel, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX (2006), Maggie O’Farrell’s new one begins with a disappearance. One morning in 1976, in the midst of a heatwave, retired bank manager Robert Riordan, after laying breakfast for his wife Gretta, leaves their North London house, draws some money from his bank, and does not return. Within a day, their three grown children have all returned home to help their mother handle the crisis: Michael Francis from his house a few miles away, where he lives with his wife and two young children; Monica from a farm in Gloucestershire, where she lives with her second husband and, at weekends, his two children; and Aoife*, the youngest, from New York, where she is single with a boyfriend. Thus O’Farrell lays the groundwork for a book about family dynamics, not only Gretta, the absent Robert, and their grown children, but also the individual situations of the offspring, who will each confront and largely resolve their own personal crises over the four-day span of the novel. At this level, it is an extraordinarily well-constructed and heart-warming read.
THE SLEEP ROOM by F. R. Tallis, is set in England in the 1950s. Dr. James Richardson is offered an opportunity to work with Hugh Maitland, a well-known scholar and “the most influential psychiatrist of his generation.” After he is hired, James travels to Wyldehope Hall, in rural Suffolk, a hospital with twenty-four beds and a narcosis room. Severely disturbed patients are given drugs to induce sleep for twenty-one hours a day…