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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Power comes a novel about a young woman who must return home in the wake of her father&;s death and confront the tight-knit Orthodox community that she ran away from&;reigniting the old flames of forbidden love.

When a young photographer living in New York learns that her estranged father, a well-respected rabbi, has died, she can no longer run away from the truth, and soon sets out for the Orthodox Jewish community in London where she grew up.

Back for the first time in years, Ronit can feel the disapproving eyes of the community. Especially those of her beloved cousin, Dovid, her father&;s favorite student and now an admired rabbi himself, and Esti, who was once her only ally in youthful rebelliousness. Now Esti is married to Dovid, and Ronit is shocked by how different they both seem, and how much greater the gulf between them is.

But when old flames reignite and the shocking truth about Ronit and Esti&;s relationship is revealed, the past and present converge in this award-winning and critically acclaimed novel about the universality of love and faith, and the strength and sacrifice it takes to fight for what you believe in&;even when it means disobedience. - (Simon and Schuster)

Author Biography

Naomi Alderman is a graduate of Oxford University and the University of East Anglia's Creative Writing MA and has published award-winning short fiction in a number of anthologies. She has worked as an editor and game designer, and spent several years living in New York. She grew up in the Orthodox Jewish community in Hendon, the neighborhood in London where she now lives. - (Simon and Schuster)

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Booklist Reviews

Ronit Krushka, the 32-year-old single daughter of a British Orthodox rabbi, has fled the closed community of Hendon in London's North End for New York, where she works as a financial analyst and enjoys a life free of the restrictions that Orthodox Judaism imposes. When her father dies suddenly, she returns to England to mourn and collect her mother's Shabbat candlesticks. Once there, she reconnects with her cousin Dovid, but her new life clearly conflicts with community norms, and malicious gossip begins to poison the already tense atmosphere. Alderman's first novel, a best-seller in England, depicts the conflicts between a tradition-based way of life, emphasizing the past, and the frenetic nature of the modern world, always hurtling forward. As Ronit ponders these issues, she contemplates the mixed blessing of moving on, and she comes to see how both speech and silence have the power to wound and heal. Although parts of the plot will seem obvious to modern American readers, the novel provides a revealing glimpse into a closed community and offers serious ethical questions to ponder. An excellent choice for women's book clubs. ((Reviewed August 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

Can an Orthodox Jew be a lesbian? Two women, one a rabbi's daughter, find different solutions to the problem.Hendon, the setting for British Alderman's debut-and Orange Prize finalist-is a London suburb with a large Orthodox Jewish community. Its rabbi, the scholarly, charismatic Krushka, is dying. He is being cared for by his nephew Dovid, also a rabbi, and the man already chosen to succeed Krushka by synagogue board president Hartog, who sees Dovid as submissive and malleable. The fly in the ointment is Dovid's wife, Esti, a woman quiet to the point of eccentricity. The other female troublemaker is Krushka's 32-year-old estranged daughter, Ronit, who's been living in New York since her father sent her there to complete her schooling. The flamboyant Ronit's brief return from New York provides the match for the tinderbox. Ronit and Esti were not just schoolgirls together; they were lovers. Each woman is still attracted primarily to her own gender, though Ronit has been having an affair with her New York boss, a married man. She has renounced the Orthodox world and its stifling expectations of conformity ("Orthodox Jew Barbie: comes complete with Orthodox Ken"), while Esti has remained true to her religion, though she is eager to resume her relationship with Ronit. What follows is a complicated dance involving the two women and the gentle, good-humored Dovid. Each chapter begins with a page of lucid commentary on the scriptures, which put the protagonists' floundering in a religious context. However, their Olympian tone is an intrusive feature in a novelistic landscape of satire and character development. Thus, although there are effective scenes (the attempt by the villainous Hartog to bribe Ronit to stay away from the hesped, or memorial service, and Esti's uncharacteristic "outing" of herself at the service), they don't combine to form a satisfying narrative flow.A mishmash, but not without promise. Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews

Financial analyst Ronit Krushka, who lives in New York, identifies as lesbian but is seeing a married man. She is also the estranged daughter of a revered London rabbi. This entertaining first novel begins with the death of Rabbi Krushka and Ronit's reluctant return to the Orthodox Jewish enclave of Hendon. "I don't really mind England so much, she concedes. "But the way Jews are here ¦it just makes me want to kick over tables and shout. Unlike their American counterparts, British Jews "must remain more quiet than non-Jews, and women more silent than men. Using two voices, one learned and lyrical, the other colloquial and chatty, Alderman offers a richly detailed look at a closed community. In contrast, the world outside fades to gray, leaving Ronit's secular existence vague at best. Though this novel covers some of the same territory as Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit , it breaks new ground by extending equal sympathy to both the rebel and those she left behind. Highly recommended. Leora Bersohn, doctoral student, Columbia Univ., New York

[Page 66]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Alderman draws on her Orthodox Jewish upbringing and current life in Hendon, England, for her entertaining debut, which won the Orange Prize for New Writers after it was published in the U.K. in March. In writing about the inhabitants of this small, gossipy society, Alderman cleverly uses a slightly sinister, omniscient "we" to represent a community that speaks with one voice, and her descriptions of Orthodox customs are richly embroidered. Alternating with this perspective is the first-person narrative of Ronit Krushka, a woman who has left the community and is now a financial analyst in New York. After the death of her estranged father, a powerful rabbi, Ronit returns to England to mourn her father and to confront her past, including a female lover. But Ronit's shock that an Orthodox lesbian would marry a man rings false, as does her casually condescending attitude toward the community. By the time of the theatrical, unrealistic climax, Ronit's struggle between religious and secular imperatives gets reduced to clich ("all we have, in the end, are the choices we make"), but Ronit works well as a vehicle for the opinion that even the most alienated New York Judaism is preferable to the English version, where "the Jewish fear of being noticed and the natural British reticence interact." (Sept.)

[Page 135]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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