SHAPES OF CLAY by Dinah Haller


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A young novel of love in the Army of Israel lacks range and focusses on Nirah, a girl soldier, dedicated and disciplined because her German mother adopted the Jewish faith in order to marry her Jewish father. Her efficiency breaks momentarily when she meets handsome Bert Darzidon, who claims he is an American. They have an affair, decide to be married and Bert leaves for the States. Nirah discovers she is pregnant, but when she realizes that Bert has meant to leave her, she has an abortion. Later, through Bert's relatives, she discovers what she has suspected; Bert is actually Jewish and is so ashamed of his heritage that he has almost wholly blocked it from his consciousness. Her love for Bert keeps her true through seven years of service, during the Sinai invasion, and hard work in an Army office. But when she meets him again, he is married to a Gentile girl who is Nirah's double but wholly lacking in personality. While Bert is obviously proud of his acquired American Gentile respectability, he nevertheless renews the affair. Nirah, loving him, recognizing his divisiveness, asks him- in parting- to call on her if he ever needs help but she is killed in an auto crash.... This complex story is unfortunately not very well told; the love affair is adolescent, and the peripheral events are so neglected that the book seems more like a diary in which even the passion and obvious anguish have been suppressed by Nirah's soldierly personality. Only partly successful.

Pub Date: March 19th, 1962
Publisher: Dodd, Mead