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The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by [Harris, Eve]
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The Marrying of Chani Kaufman Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 305 customer reviews

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Review

'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

About the Author

Eve Harris was born to Israeli-Polish parents in Chiswick, West London, in 1973. She taught for 12 years at inner-city comprehensives and independent schools in London and also in Tel Aviv, after moving to Israel in 1999. She returned to London in 2002 to resume teaching at an all girls' Catholic convent school. 'The Marrying of Chani Kaufman' was inspired by her final year of teaching at an all girls' ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in North West London. Eve lives in London with her husband, Jules, and their daughter Rosie.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1144 KB
  • Print Length: 385 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:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 305 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,554 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Aug. 2013
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Above all, an excellent read, with believable characters leading believable lives and with whom you sympathised. So good to read a book that is not based on the chase for money, fame and Prince Charming - unlike the standard chicklit heroine ending up with the rich, handsome rockstar. It reminded me of Vickram Seth's 'A Suitable Boy'. I can see why some of the Jewish readers would dislike the book and it does seem rather ambitious for an outsider to write about a very private community, but I thought that Eve Harris did a good job of sharing the spirituality and sense of community with the readers as well as detailing some of the less appealing aspects. I should say, less appealing to those of us who stand outside them; I imagine that all cultures have elements that appear unpleasant to others. There is certainly plenty to despise in today's 'free' world. So, in the end, a well written, fascinating and thought-provoking book.
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This book gets five stars and a review as it is one of the first “good books” that I have read for some time other than the classics. The story is well balanced, the characters believable and I liked the ending with its conflicting hope and sadness as one marriage begins and another seems to end.

The story revolves around marriage and how a couple (of whatever sort) work to make a long term relationship work. The central character Chani is at the beginning of her particular journey and faces a wide range of fears not least the fear of sex, about which she knows very little. The story is told from the perspective of a fundamental Jewish background, however, the issues are similar to those faced by many young people from a range of communities – the steps to adulthood are frightening even if they are not contemplating an arranged marriage.

Around the story of Chani and her marriage there is another story about the Rabi’s wife who is preparing her to be a good Jewish wife. I found this element particularly moving, although the first few chapters were a little confusing as the Rabi and his wife enter the story as another young couple. It is well worth reading through any confusion and I really enjoyed both elements of the story.

Some reviewers have commented that they didn’t like the ending. I actually feel that it is the right ending for this book. It is not obvious or over played and in my opinion is handled with finesse and sympathy for each of the characters involved.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had a long train journey and I wanted something diverting to read. I didn’t want to be stuck with a boring book with no other distraction. This book fitted the bill; and I found it very moving. I warmed to the main characters, especially the young ones, and wanted to see how they got on with their lives.

Some reviews keep on talking about ‘conservative Judaism’. This community isn’t anywhere near as progressive as the conservative movement. They haredi, sometimes (rudely) called ‘ultra-orthodox’.

The story shows that religious parents shouldn’t prevent sex education for their children.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Started this at 3pm and stayed with it until finished at midnight! It isn't what I expected. I assumed it was about her life after the marriage but totally the opposite, it ended with the marriage. I liked it a lot and found the characters believable and interesting. My husband is Jewish and his family are quite observant so it was interesting to get an insight into the extremes! There by the grace of god...

However I was a bit disappointed with the ending, finding it strange and not in keeping with the rest of the book. But I would certainly recommend it.
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