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The Marrying of Chani Kaufman

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman [Kindle Edition]

Eve Harris
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)

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'Some of the women (the story is mostly told from a female perspective), could have been created by Jane Austen or Mrs Gaskell. Snobby, comic Mrs Levy, Chani s future mother-in-law, is furious that her 20-year-old son Baruch (Hebrew for Blessed), is marrying beneath him. His bride, 19-year-old Chani, is one of eight daughters of a financially strained rabbi and his exhausted pudding of a wife. Worse, Chani is a girl with a mind of her own.' --Sue Fox, Sunday Express

Well-written, unapologetic, unvarnished and undisguised. --Gerald Jacobs, Jewish Chronicle

Harris evokes the community s insular nature, she also suggests the sense of comfort and belonging that it confers, offering a sympathetic window on a way of life little glimpsed in contemporary fiction. --David Evans, Financial Times

In a narrative that weaves the viewpoints of the bride and groom, it is the third story which provides the emotional and thematic complexity needed to raise the story to a Booker contender. It is the story of Rivka, a rebbetzin, whose ambitious husband, Chaim, marries the couple. --Danuta Kean, The Independent

Judaism may be the setting but Eve touches on universal themes. It's about being true to ourselves when even our closest friends seem at odds with our chosen lifestyle. It's about forging a set of values when everything around us, locally and globally, seems to encourage the antithesis. It's about being human. It's about being alive and I adored it. --Ani Johnson, The Bookbag

'Humour abounds, but so do pathos and anger. Harris s eye for suburban social mores is wickedly acute, as is her evident relish in describing both the sensual life and its absence.' --Catherine Taylor, The Guardian

'This novel is beautifully done and highly recommended.' --Victoria Moore, Daily Mail

Product Description

19 year-old Chani lives in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of North West London. She has never had physical contact with a man, but is bound to marry a stranger. The rabbi’s wife teaches her what it means to be a Jewish wife, but Rivka has her own questions to answer. Soon buried secrets, fear and sexual desire bubble to the surface in a story of liberation and choice; not to mention what happens on the wedding night…

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 470 KB
  • Print Length: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Sandstone Press (24 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E3S6BGC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,916 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
4.5 stars.

A read I couldn't resist, as a secular Jew who knows nothing of my cultural heritage.

I wasn't at all disappointed. I can see some very critical reviews of this but I loved it. It's a real education into a hidden world for those not of the community.

19-year-old Jewish girl Chani is about to marry Baruch, another observant Jew from London. We see their courtship, their family lives, their customs. And through the Rabbi's wife, Rivka, who is teaching Chani the wifely duties, we see another generation's perspective and young life and how marriage to a Rabbi changes her life.

I found it a real eye-opener. I really appreciated just how dedicated the Jewish people are, constantly, in everything they do, to their beliefs. I loved the insight into the customs (ritual baths, wigs, not touching until marriage).

The wedding bookends worked well, with Chani's wedding returned to again with more knowledge of the trials of her courtship and fleshing out of her character and that of her groom. It helped to complete the picture having Baruch's voice as part of the novel, a young man struggling to follow traditions but also to fit them into his more modern world.

Very good book, with a highly useful glossary of Hebrew-English terminology at the back that I referred to constantly.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of Isaac 15 Aug 2013
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It seems some members of London's Orthodox Jewish community didn't like The Marrying of Chani Kaufman. I'm guessing they weren't meant to.

This is a (mostly) very funny novel that is, literally, about the marriage of Chani Kaufman to her approved fiancé Baruch Levy. Chani is excited about the wedding but in fear of the wedding night. She has led a sheltered life, the daughter of a Rabbi in a strict Orthodox community. No television; no boys; no trendy clothes; no university.

The novel then pans back and we see how Chani came to be getting married; we see into the lives of her family and the Levys; we see into the life of Baruch's best friend Avromi and his family - and his father just happens to be the rabbi who is going to officiate at Chani and Baruch's wedding.

What we find does not make for happy reading. There are layers of ritual - depicted by Eve Harris as pointless and even damaging. There is denial of reality. There is hypocrisy. And overwhelmingly, there is sweet food. Life is a constant and arduous preparation for the Sabbath, the day the Jewish community will be busily resting. Everything is a constant rush to be ready for the start of Sabbath, the moment at which all tools must be downed, all activities ceased, and everyone will have fun. Yes, through gritted teeth, they *will* have fun.

Eve Harris portrays a community leading dull lives, plenty of privations, and generally levels of tat and decay. Plus very sweet food. Nothing seems to be new and shiny apart from the honey glaze on assorted cakes. Even the wealthy Levys seem to have a Spartan quality to their palatal, leather-suited living spaces. There is an eternal feel to their world. This, of course, turns out to be a bit of a sham.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the fascination of the unfamiliar 8 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Aren't we all fascinated by the unfamiliar? We are curious about people who live in a world that seems strange and closed in, keeping centuries-old customs and laws. Most of all we are perturbed by they way they cut themselves off from modern life.

The appeal of Eve Harris' debut novel - longlisted for the Man Booker prize - is that it speaks to those who know something of the Charedi world, and those who know nothing. The Marrying of Chani Kaufman tells the story of a young woman in her late teens who is preparing to enter an arranged marriage. After only four dates the fate of Chani and her prospective bridegroom Baruch is sealed. They know little about each other, still less about sex. But they do know what is expected of them by their families, their Rabbi, their community, and most of all by God (HaShem).

The author tells the story with humour and compassion, making it hard for the reader to put the book down. We know what is going to happen to Chani and Baruch, but we are eager for details - and this is what we get: an insight into the fraught wedding preparations, the interactions of two sets of incompatible parents and the turbulent life of an onlooker, the Rebbetzin (the wife of the Rabbi who is to perform the ceremony.)

Eve Harris leads us into a world of families with many children ("even the love Chani received was of the hand-me-down kind"). She explains the expectations of marriage ("A good Yiddisher girl to stir the cholent and light their Shabbos candles. An instant wife - just add water.") She has got under the skin of these Jews, understanding not only their customs but their social motivation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a great read populated by warm, complex, beautifully described characters that you really care about. A wonderful insight into a hidden world but with universal resonance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Very interesting and an enjoyable book.
Published 5 days ago by Louise
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Not an easy read, emotionally and in other ways. But the writing is good and engaging and conveys a story of a lifestyle unfamiliar to many. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Mrs. Diane M. Hellyer
4.0 out of 5 stars a good read
I get the impression this book gives you quite an accurate insight into a section of the ultra orthodox Jewish community and shows that they are just the same as any other... Read more
Published 10 days ago by L. Rosswick
2.0 out of 5 stars flat
2d characters who are there for us to learn more about conservative Judaism rather than being part of a gripping tale
Published 27 days ago by Diana Bruce
3.0 out of 5 stars Its OK
This was highly recommended and talked about but I am afraid to say that although I finished it, I didn't really believe in some of the characters or the situations.
Published 1 month ago by Carol Ellis
3.0 out of 5 stars Just about okay
I won't go into a summary of the story and that has already been done lots of times. I read this book as we chose it as a book club read because of all the good reviews it... Read more
Published 1 month ago by I. Picornell
5.0 out of 5 stars First fiction I have read in ages
I found this book highly readable and offering a deeper understanding of the true lives of these people - really good.
Published 1 month ago by Denise Marion Sawyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great informative read
Loved this book. the emotions experienced by Chani and Baruch were so heartfelt and True. I didn't want this story to end. I would dearly like to know what came next for them. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pam
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Fantastic read, beautifully written and an insightful glimpse into another world that I didn't know much about. Well worth a read.
Published 1 month ago by csmith
1.0 out of 5 stars Loved the book. It wa.
Enjoyable informative. Would like to know more about the Rabbetzin at the end. It left it handing in the air.
Published 2 months ago by susan horton
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