5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Review of Linda Grant's book - When I Lived in Modern Times,
By A Customer
This review is from: When I Lived in Modern Times (Paperback)
Iâ€™d recommend this book as an enjoyable way of finding out about Israelâ€™s recent history.
The story is told by Evelyn Sert, a young Jew who leaves post-war London excited about a new life in the Promised Land. At first I found Evelynâ€™s naivete irritating, especially in her unquestioning relationship with Jonny, a headstrong Zionist terrorist. However as the book went on I realised that seeing Tel Aviv through Evelynâ€™s optimistic eyes made the background events all the more powerful. In particular, she gives the reader glimpses of the shocking history that led to the exodus of Jews to Israel after the war. At one point she makes only a passing reference to the concentration camp survivors who turn up at her kibbutz, but it leaves us with a lingering sense of the ordeal it took to bring them there. The Arabs too are just a backdrop to Evelynâ€™s story â€" the people selling watermelons in the street or living in outlying villages that she and Jonny zoom through on his motorbike â€" but the very way in which she dismisses them reinforces the fact that they are as much the displaced people in Israel as the Jews arriving there from all over Europe to set up a new life.
Eveylnâ€™s tale is caught up with her infatuation with Jonny and her efforts to fit into her new life â€" which is a good story in itself, but the story I enjoyed even more was that of Tel Aviv in all the topsy turviness that the book reveals.