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Disobedience [Paperback]

Naomi Alderman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

5 April 2007

Granta Best Young British Novelist

Naomi Alderman's Disobedience is an insightful and witty novel on the search for love, tolerance and faith.

By the age of 32, Ronit has left London and transformed her life. She has become a cigarette-smoking, wise-cracking, New York career woman, who is in love with a married man.But when Ronit's father dies she is called back into the very different world of her childhood, a world she thought she had left far behind. The orthodox Jewish suburb of Hendon, north London is outraged by Ronit and her provocative ways. But Ronit is shocked too by the confrontation with her past. And when she meets up with her childhood girlfriend Esti, she is forced to think again about what she has left behind.

'Rich, fresh, fascinating. A wonderful novel' Sunday Times

'Funny, tender and insightful' Maureen Lipman, Guardian

Naomi Alderman grew up in the Orthodox Jewish community in northwest London. Her first novel, Disobedience, was published in 10 languages and won the Orange Award for New Writers and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year prize. Like her second novel, The Lessons, it was broadcast as Radio 4's Book at Bedtime. She is a frequent radio broadcaster and she is a regular contributor to several publications including the Guardian and Prospect. She lives in London.

Frequently Bought Together

Disobedience + The Liars' Gospel + The Lessons
Price For All Three: 19.87

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  • The Liars' Gospel 6.29
  • The Lessons 6.39

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141025956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141025957
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Funny, tender and insightful' Maureen Lipman, Guardian'A wonderful novel . . . rich and fresh and fascinating' Sunday Times

From the Publisher

As well as winning the Orange New Writers Award 2006, Naomi
Alderman was recently announced the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year
2007. To learn more about Naomi and to find out how you could win a place
on her creative writing workshop, visit penguin.co.uk/disobedience

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Ronit, a young orthodox jewish woman from Hendon escapes her past and moves to New York where she does everything a orthodox jewish woman shouldn't - she wears trousers, has sex with people who aren't her husband - even someone else's, smokes and drinks. Her father, the rabbi, then dies and she returns to go to his funeral and she returns to everything she escaped from - the petty jealousies, the stifling community and also to a childhood sweetheart.
I loved this book - it provided an insight into a world and a religion that I knew very little about and I loved the characters and found it moving and engrossing.
It has been lauded as the next Brick Lane but I enjoyed it much more than Brick Lane as I found the characters less stereotypical and I loved the warm wit and the great writing.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I had high hopes for this when I picked it up in the bookshop but I was ultimately left slightly unsatisfied. Having said that, much of it was very good. The 3 main characters are all highly engaging and I found myself caring about them and their very different - and very complicated -lives. Ronit is the wayward ex-Orthodox daughter of an erudite (now dead) Rabbi. She lives in NYC, and is a fully paid-up hedonist without even a nod to her former observant self. When her estranged father dies, however, she finds herself returning to all she scorns - namely the closed and judgemental world of the Orthodox Jewish Community in Hendon - and so rekindles past loves, friendships and rebellions. The 2 people who are caught in her orbit, past and present, are her cousin Dovid and her past lover Esti, now - shockingly - Dovid's wife. Dovid is diffident about filling the dead Rabbi's shoes and touchingly in love with his emotionally absent wife, who in turn believes she is still in love with Ronit......
Much of it, especially the complex inter-relationship between Ronit, Esti and Dovid, was beautifully done, and very engaging. There were also some laugh-out-loud moments, notably when Ronit gatecrashes a suffocatingly genteel Shabbat supper and scandalises everyone with her slit skirt and deliberately outrageous tales of lesbian loves and turkey basters.
But somehow something didn't quite add up. I found the introduction to each chapter - with a quote from the Bible/Torah/Jewish teachings irritating and alienating. I couldn't quite work out what they were there for - to show what Ronit was railing against? to cast light on a closed religion and its teachings? Hmmm.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
This might not be what a forty-something bloke would normally read - a lesbian exploration of friendship and morality set in the heart of London's orthodox Jewish community - but I loved it. It is suffused with warmth, the characters feel fully formed, genuine and likeable, their dilemmas real. I felt I was getting an insight for another world, one packed with rigid religious rules alien to me, but also the sort of petty morality, gossip and bitchiness that are universal. Step aside Monica Ali and Brick Lane, it's time for north London to have its moment in the sun - and Disobedience in the book to do it.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive Read 10 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This book is brilliant. The story-line is addictive - once you're past the first chapter you really do want to keep reading to find out what happens next.
I love the way each chapter has its own mini introduction explaining the background to the religious theme behind the story-line.
There are a couple of very tiny bits where you can predict the plot, but they don't ruin the story at all - in fact they make you want to read more to find out if you're right and also how it affects the story.
I think everyone should read this book - those who are even slightly open minded will love it because the religious aspects and lesbian parts won't worry them. Those who aren't open minded at all should read this book too to realise that this book shows how all people go through the same things - social acceptance issues, fitting in even amongst your own kind etc etc etc. It is a book everyone can relate to in their own way.
I think this will permanently be a favourite of mine!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perseverance is Required 16 Nov 2007
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
The book jacket compares Alderman to Zadie Smith. I think this is unfair to both authors and the readers. Smith has a knack for wry humour and a deep understanding of what it is to be an alien in your own country, yet there is a great affection for her characters and geography always present. Alderman has some of this, but it is much patchier and less defined than Smith's work. She also has other gifts which are overlooked by this sweeping comparison. Alderman deals with the essence of what it is to be Jewish, and how to relate someone's fragile sense of humanity to the permanent solidity of 'God'. This seems to me to be the ovearching theme of the book. Each chapter is headed with passages from Jewish scriptures which are then discussed in a kind of mini sermon. These are dynamic and very interesting. Where the book falls down, for me, is in the characterisation. The central characters, Ronit, Esti and Dovid, who are locked in a peculiar and sympathetic love triangle, are intriguing but seem quite shadowy, subsumed by the issues with which Alderman wrestles: how to remain true to orthodox Judaism in the modern world, exile, what it is to be a Jewish woman, what it is to be a lesbian and a Jewish woman. These are big questions and ideas in what is a fairly short book, and as such the book often comes across as fragmented and bitty. There is lots to admire, but this is not, to me, a finished work. I would definitely read more of her work, as I want to see how she progresses as a writer. She shows great promise.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
exactly as described - thank you
Published 17 days ago by zolikha
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant read
A great book that was thought provoking and enjoyable, it was also an education in facets or Jewish culture and some of the challenges that can bring to those who are unable to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by mimday
1.0 out of 5 stars Book Group book
I really did not like this book
Violent and gratuitously sexual in ways I was not comfortable with.. Read more
Published 2 months ago by EMG
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight
While working in London, I'd often spend free time trundling up on the Northern Line tube to Golders Green to observe a culture within a culture... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Hilary Vivian
3.0 out of 5 stars Not very inspiring.
I kept waiting for something to happen! Also lots of vocab which was unknown to me and not in the dictionary.
Published 3 months ago by marist
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
I rate books often by how quickly I get into the story - and I was engaged from the start. Thought the ending could have been a bit stronger but overall a good read!!
Published 3 months ago by J. Walter
3.0 out of 5 stars good but weak ending
Well written but the story almost seemed to lose its way towards the end as if the writer had got bored! Still worth a read though.
Published 4 months ago by KateBW
5.0 out of 5 stars Disobedience
Thought provoking book. Two cultures clash giving an insight into trying to follow a faith and live in today's society.
Published 4 months ago by Avid reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
An excellent book. We read it in our Book Group and all thoroughly enjoyed it as the story was intriguing and had the added interest of fascinating insights into the Jewish faith... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sheila Robertson
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful funny thought provoking book
This book is a revelation - it is fascinating about Jewish culture and practice, its also very funny and the characters are well rounded and you do quickly come to care about them. Read more
Published 4 months ago by christine
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