A debut novel for Ragen, aimed directly at the Steel/Krantz/Dailey market but written with welcome, no-nonsense clarity, and...

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JEPHTE'S DAUGHTER

A debut novel for Ragen, aimed directly at the Steel/Krantz/Dailey market but written with welcome, no-nonsense clarity, and resolutely sure of its subject matter. The subject, in this case, is marriage within Orthodox Jewry--specifically, Bathsheba Ha-Levi's marriage to the rabbinical scholar Isaac Meyer Harshen. She's literally a Jewish princess from California, her father, Abraham, ""the last surviving son of Yerchmiel Ha-Levi, sole heir to a three-hundred-year-old Hassidic dynasty."" Abraham, a real-estate tycoon, goes to Jerusalem to find a suitable mate for Bathsheba, and when the wedding takes place, the Orthodox Jewish world celebrates. The trouble is that Bathsheba--while a good girl and dutiful daughter--isn't prepared for Orthodox life; and Isaac hasn't a clue about how to make a woman happy. Their three years together are torture for them both, with Bathsheba enduring the saddest sort of sex life, flunking kosher cooking, losing her one outlet in life--photography--when Isaac confiscates her film, calling her work ""graven images."" Oft beaten and at the end of her rope, she engineers a suicide, then takes herself and young son Akiva to London--where she falls in love with a man who would be perfect for her, except that he's studying to be a priest. But Ragen sorts that out in the end, by having David Hope learn he's part Jewish and ready to convert. An emotionally potent book but deadly dour, proving, for anyone who wasn't already sure, that prearranged marriages don't work.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 1988

ISBN: 0312570236

Page Count: -

Publisher: Warner

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988