Disobedience Paperback – 5 Apr 2007
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'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
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Top customer reviews
I'd recommend Disobedience to anyone who enjoys a thoughtful, literary, read, who enjoys learning about the inside of cultures different to their own, who wants to understand where other people are 'coming from', who is interested in the phenomenon of religion/culture and how it can rule your life. It is warm and funny with lots of serious points and some great portraits.
There are two 'voices' in the book, that of the author, who writes about Dovid and Esti, the Rav, other community members and the events that occur (it is a very cleverly-crafted novel from the point of view of plot) and Ronit's, a first-person narrative ; and they are distinguished by different type-faces. The chapters are usually (possibly always - I haven't checked) introduced by a brief reflection on Jewish ritual, the Jewish view of man's relationship to God, aspects of the Torah or Jewish custom and suchlike. I am not Jewish, but I found these reflections
extremely interesting ; I think they would be to anyone ; and they are not there as interludes, they have subtle connections to the events and themes of the novel. Esti, Dovid and Ronit are all extremely sympathetic characters- it is very easy to like them - and their story, of their shared past and what happens with the Rav's death and Ronit's largely unwelcome reappearance is a compelling one. The book moves towards a powerful and very effective conclusion in which one of the three plays a surprising and very moving role.
It is fair to say that, while this novel is very Jewish, and very interesting for that, it goes far beyond the preoccupations of one very tradition-bound community. The key themes are universal - how we behave towards other people, how we come to accept human differences which we may at first find difficult, how we learn about ourselves ; they are the key themes of very many novels. In this case, paradoxically, the complacency of the inward-looking, exclusive Hendon Jewish community provides an excellent locus for very involving, very human thoughts
, feelings, responses and behaviours. The book is generally very literately but lightly written, easy and compelling to read and both very enjoyable and very thought-provoking.
Also, any sympathy I had for the main protagonist was lost pretty much immediately after something that occurs towards the end - I won't say anything more, but I am curious whether I took this the way that it was intended.
This is a book written from two perspectives, Robot's and Esti's, two women born into the same Hendon Orthodox Jewish community but one has left and one has stayed. Without giving away anything from the plot there is something that holds them together from their shared pasts.
Ronit's father, the Rav has recently died and Ronit is returning from New York to sort out his papers and close up the home. Ronit is successful in her chosen field as a Corporate financial analyst but having just come out of an affair with her married boss, the trip to London, though unwelcome, gives her a little breathing space.
The story takes us into the closeted world of her old community, the perceived claustrophobia and the feelings of being watched, judged and found to be lacking. Ronit in her status as an unmarried woman is seen as something of a half person; not fully matured and though it is not mentioned I had the impression she was seen as a disappointment to her late father's memory.
This is one of those books where you, the reader is taken into other people's lives and given a snap shot of their circumstances and events and this reminded me of Anne Tyler. Naomi Alderman doesn't write in a dramatic style, even the dramatic moments in this book are played down but that is what I enjoyed about this, she has a way of writing that seemed quite beautiful, especially in her description of the Shabbat preparations.
I shall be reading her other books at some point in the future.
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