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To Know A Woman [Paperback]

Amos Oz
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

21 May 1992
Following the bizarre accidental death of his wife, Israeli secret service agent Yoel Ravid retires to the suburbs with his daughter, mother and mother-in-law. After a lifetime of uncovering other people's secrets he is forced to look back at the lies he has told himself; at the desolate enigma of his wife's life and death; his years of service to the state and the riddle of his daughter's behavior.

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To Know A Woman + A Tale Of Love And Darkness + How to Cure a Fanatic
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (21 May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099913402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099913405
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Following the bizarre accidental death of his wife, Israeli secret service agent Yoel Ravid retires to the suburbs with his daughter, mother and mother-in-law. After a lifetime of uncovering other people's secrets he is forced to look back at the lies he has told himself; at the desolate enigma of his wife's life and death; his years of service to the state and the riddle of his daughter's behavior.

Book Description

'There is no novelist writing today who catches the feeling of the moment more surely than Amos Oz' Scotsman

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Know A Man 19 Oct 2004
By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Yoel Ravid, is my kind of man. He was an Israeli secret service agent for most of his life, and had the ability to sense the truth in people. Amos Oz has written an extraordinary novel, "To Know a Woman". However, in Yoel's quest to find the secret of his life and what might have gone wrong; we learn as does Yoel, much more about his life and how to live it. This novel has been misnamed, it should be "To Know a Man"!
We meet Yoel as he is exploring his retired life. His wife of many years, Irvia, has died suddenly. He is left with a daughter, Netta, whom he doesn't really know. His mother and his mother-in-law live together in an apartment near by, and Yoel feels the need to bring the family together. He cannot abide to live in the apartment that he lived in with his wife. He finds a house to rent with four bedrooms and everyone moves in together. This is a strange family- rarely do they speak or talk of important matters. They sit at night watching TV and rarely speak. Netta, his daughter has epilepsy and we learn that Irvia could not accept this diagnosis. Netta is a young woman who reads- she eats and sleeps at will, stays up all hours of the night and attends school where she does not fit in.
Yoel feels out of place. He is used to being busy all the time, now he has very little to do. He thinks a lot about his life with his wife, how they met and married and their life with Netta. He thinks about his profession. He was rarely at home and his job was his life even though he loved his family. He drives his car at night and thinks. He sleeps little. He visits his next door neighbors who are an interesting couple, brother and sister. And he forms a relationship with his realtor, they go sailing every Saturday, and the realtor tells Yoel all of his secrets.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book full of pictures 15 May 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
...and emotions. Yoel, who used to work for the secret services in Israel, is not a tough man as another people think. He never had the time to prove so to his wife, but now that he is retired and she is dead, he decides to settle down a bit and spend time with his family, come closer to them and especially his daughter. You will see that Yoel is more an *observer* in life rather a passenger and as a reader you will get a clear picture for everything he observes. You will also be the only one to know Yoel's feelings about the people around him and be amazed how deep but conceeled these feelings are. Very sweet and emotional book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect 7 Jun 2013
By Diana
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beautiful book, I really donnot know what to write in this space, I think the rating with 5 stars would do
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy to Read 5 Aug 2001
By David Rabenowitz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Mr Oz has taken the simpliest of stories and made it a wonderful book to read. His character development made the people so lifelike. A troubled soul has to come to terms with his life and the relationships he had and has with his wife, his daughter, his mother and mother-in-law. His growing awareness of the importance of just living made this novel a true joy. As the novel progresses, we become more involved with the present, rather than the past. Finally we are left with the feeling that the future will be fine.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a thriller 19 Jun 2005
By Moten Swing - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Don't expect a thriller. While Yoel, the protagonist, was a secret service agent, and while he struggles to remember key events from his past that haunt him, this is not a book about secret agents. There is no huge climax. No car chases.

Instead, this is a story of a man recovering from trauma, learning to relate to people, learning to love his daughter, learning to live without his wife. He wanders through his days in a fog, focusing on tiny details of the world, while not responding to the largest figures in his life. It is a story of a sad man who doesn't even know he is sad.

The textures of the book are amazing, giving the reader a perfect sense of the confusion and separation that is Yoel's life. The story builds nicely, and provides some suspense, but the main focus here is the window into the mind of a lost man.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic World Literature 24 May 2001
By kp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's amazing that Oz is able to make a novel out of some of the content in this book, such as the gardening details. Oz has written a story that focuses on the truer, less glamourous aspects of Yoel's life and succeeds in painting an ultimately genuine and touching picture of life in general. It's also surprising that the novel is so enjoyable considering that none of the characters are really likeable. Duby is one of the most likeable, but his role is limited. Netta, Ivria, the Krantzes, and the grandmothers are all charcters that are easy to detest. Yoel ends up being the heroic character even though the reader is never sure if he is just as flawed as the other characters, and as the other characters believe him to be. Oz has several very interesting techniques, the most interesting be his recycling of images and ideas throughout the novel. It's refreshing and clearly points out the unity of the story. It is definitely a psychological work, and sometimes borders on mystical. All of the international city references and Hebrew Poets that Netta reads lends it sophistication. The short chapters again keep the pace up, which the novel needs in order to not become mundane. On the whole, it's definitely a good piece of world literature and a nice opening to Oz in general. Or so says the legend...
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Know a Country 4 July 2007
By Rebecca Winters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a haunting novel that captures both the landscape and the soul of Israel. It is beautifully written, as are all of Amos Oz's novels, but this one has a compelling sense of place and characters so real they breathe the same air we do. The internal journey the protagonist undergoes suggests that life can provide an act two once one learns to forgive oneself.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Fiction Books Out There! 20 Nov 2006
By Sylviastel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Amos Oz might be on the shortlist for the Nobel Prize for Literature. I have never read any of his other books. I picked up the book along others when I shop at public libraries and yard sales. This book was special because it was one of those books where I first got interested immediately. I am not an easy reader. I don't like books that play games with me. I'm not a fan of fiction for today because there seems to be little that I haven't read about yet. Amos Oz's protagonist is a complicated character. He is an Israeli and former spy for his country who spent most of his life away from his wife and daughter, Netta. It was nice to read about a man who loved his wife as much as he did. As if they were one person, rather than two separate individuals, guys, read carefully because women want to be loved spiritually and soulfully as these two people are brought together. Maybe it's given me hope that they are nice men out there for looking for a nice girl like myself. Whatever Amos Oz humanizes his character who must deal with his troubled teenage daughter, his mother and mother-in-law who both live with them. What surprised me is that the politics of the Israeli and middle-east are rarely mentioned as if there are other problems in their lives. It's nice to read that Israelis are not these monsters as portrayed in the media. Amos Oz enlightens readers like myself who never ventured to Israel or ever plan too because of all the problems there. Maybe the problems aren't about politics or differences, maybe the problems are just internal like the protagonist. It's funny how people are not different after all, only if the Israelis and Palestinans can make peace, then maybe there is hope after all. If we can celebrate our similarities rather than argue over differences, we would get along. I became enlightened by this novel because I think Amos Oz wants to bridge the gaps between races, religions, and cultures. We're all human beings after all. We have that in common. Let's celebrate our differences.
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