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When I Lived in Modern Times Paperback – 6 Jan 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (6 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847082610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847082619
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Linda Grant was born in Liverpool in 1951. She was educated in Liverpool and studied at the University of York and in Canada. Her first novel, The Cast Iron Shore, won the David Higham Award in 1996 and was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize. She is the author of a memoir - Remind Me Who I Am Again and two further novels: When I Lived in Modern Times, which won the 2000 Orange Prize for fiction, and The Clothes on Their Backs, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008.


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4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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This could indeed have been a very different sort of book - but I think this first hand description of a tremendously significant phenomenon - the birth of modern Israel - albeit a small-scale view through the eyes of someone who barely understands what she is seeing and has little or no sense of the historical background of where she finds herself, is at least as valid a record of human experience as a much more serious, analytical account would have been.
Evelyn is in search of an identity but her adoption of Jewishness is complicated by her growing awareness that there are many kinds of Jew, and all of them are angry with the country she's just come from. When she arrives she's surprised to find that she feels more British than Jewish, but in Palestine she's surrounded by British soldiers and their wives with an innate sense of superiority and a misplaced sense of fair play wholly inappropriate to the prevailing cultural complexities.
The book begins in a deceptively lightweight sort of way and slowly gathers momentum. It's written in a simple, economical style that seems of a piece with Evelyn's personality, not literary but direct and engaging. It was good at conveying the contrast between the brash, modern city of Tel Aviv with it's white walls and straight lines, and the centuries-old instabilities inherent in a place where races and cultures mingle and refugees from the second world war are pouring in and expecting to find The Promised Land.
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'When I Lived in Modern Times' is a beautifully written story of a young Jewish girl's search for her personal identity as she exchanges a post-war England for the last days of Palestine under British colonial rule.

The story moves from one of the original Jewish kibbutz to the brand-new city of Tel Aviv as Evelyn Sert attempts to reinvent herself as one of the new Jews. Her encounters with the English expatriates plus her involvement with the fringes of the Irgun and Haganah resistance movements are a complicated mixture of changing personal attitudes and an uncertainty as to where her future really lies.

The wheel goes a full circle and, many years later, her final visit to Tel Aviv underlines her original uncertainty over her role in the creation of Eretz Israel - and her near-disillusionment over what has actually been created.
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By Roman Clodia TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Dec. 2015
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Grant is both a compelling writer and an intelligent one. Here she gives us a story of a woman's coming of age set in 1946-7 against the run-up to the creation of the state of Israel. I love the way this story is both small (Eve doesn't miraculously meet every famous Jew alive at the time as so often happens in fiction) yet has a much wider resonance that is left to the reader to judge. A short book but a gripping one.
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As always with Linda Grant novels I learned details of a piece of history not much covered in schools: the political and historical situation in the middle East prior to the establishment of Israel, so pertinent to understanding today's continued crises. The main character is independent and spirited and the plot kept me turning the pages. But then I am a big fan of LG.
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By writing a novel set at the beginning of the Israeli state, immediately after WWII, from the perspective of a young Jewish woman full of hope for the future, Linda Grant manages to highlight many of the issues that have caused such strife through the 20th century in a way that allows us to understand the behaviour of all involved.
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Quite simply, one of the finest novels I have ever read, both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. I'm already pursuing other fiction by Linda Grant. She writes the way I've always wished I could.
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I ploughed through this to the bitter end, although I did struggle with it a bit. I got bored with the storyline.

I kept on with it as it provided an interesting historical perspective into the birth of the modern Israel and I like to learn about things that are new to me.
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Got through this, but didn't enjoy it all that much to be honest; it felt like a chore to read. Although I'd advise you to read other reviews and don't be put off reading it by me. Others I know have enjoyed it and have it down as a classic. I just found the history a bit too clunky.
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