11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A reply to Daniel Deronda,
By A Customer
This review is from: Reuben Sachs (Paperback)
Amy Levy's short novel explores a Jewish community in London in the 1880's. It has been called a reply to George Eliot's "Daniel Deronda" which portrayed a very romantic view of Jewish society. Levy is much harsher, more satirical in her portraits of the famillies in her novel. Reuben Sachs is a young man who, in his mother's words, "will do nothing rash". He is destined for a brilliant political career, but he needs to marry money to support his ambitions, and he is unfortunately in love with Judith Quixano, who is beautiful but poor. Judith loves Reuben, but their love is undeclared, although both their famillies gossip about them. As well as satirising the vulgarity and snobbishness of her community, Levy also makes a plea to change the aimless lives of young women who can have no career but marriage. This, of course, wasn't restricted to Jewish girls of the period. Judith is intelligent, but she relies on Reuben for books and conversation about politics. She lives with a family who spends any amount on material possessions, but sees money spent on books as wasted. Judith's fate is unsurprising, but the journey we take with her is fascinating. Amy Levy died young (she committed suicide at the age of 27), otherwise we might have more novels of this quality on the Jewish experience in Britain.