IF I FORGET THEE by Brenda Lesley Segal

IF I FORGET THEE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An operatic reconstruction of the ""revolt of Bar-Kokhba,"" leader of a major Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in the early second century A.D.--with Segal (The Tenth Measure) again exploiting her extensive research and giving her major characters a frantic energy. The heroine is Jara, who is mistrusted and disliked in her Galilee village for her unmaidenly feistiness and her scorn of religion. And when Jara does finally agree to marry (to remain with her Roman-raped, husband-mistreated sister), she's captured by the Romans just before the wedding. But Jara kills the Roman. commander who has bedded her; and, escaping bandits, she meets Simon ben Kosiba, whom she adores. . . and who is anointed by Rabbi Akiva as King, ""Bar Kokhba."" Before Simeon takes on the burden of freeing Jewish land from the oppressive Romans, however, there are many rabbinical debates on the merits of assimilation, open rebellion, or negotiation; deceptively genial Emperor Hadrian, at dinner with Akiva, promises much. But soon he issues severe repressive edicts--and Simeon, echoing Jara's own heart, knows fighting is the only way, even if it's not God's way. (""You don't give a damn one way or another,"" he prays to God. ""So don't help me. Just don't help them!"") Meanwhile, love-wise, things are rocky: Simeon agrees to a political marriage to a Parthian; ""Someday you'll beg for my love,"" spits Jara--leaving Akiva's settlement with Judeo-Christian Jacob, later exchanging family histories with Andreas, a handsome Romanized Jew. And after more passion/parting with Simeon (plus lectures from doomed Rabbi Akiva), there's the big battle. . . as Jara and Andreas--and their son--leave for Parthis. Bellowing with Message--and more than a few anachronisms--but the dialogue and action do pound along.

Pub Date: July 15th, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's