A love story in which the personal is, inevitably, political.
Early on, Maya Dror announces to her mother, Shlomtzion, that she is engaged to be married in three weeks to Ariel Berman, son of the prominent rabbi Yair Berman. Maya, however, has never known of her mothers past life: that a long time ago, Shlomtzion and Yair had been each other’s immortal beloved, that each had a common dream for the future (to establish an ideal society) and that Shlomtzion’s life had been shattered by a revered rabbi’s refusal to bless the engagement. The parallel engagement of their children offers Shlomtzion an opportunity to reflect on what might have been and on how both she and Yair dealt with the trauma of their forced separation. Their relationship plays out against the historical drama of the Six Day War and ends just prior to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, so the cultural currents of contemporary Israel underlie much of the action and of the characters’ political orientations. Maya, for example, has a commitment to live in a “new” settlement and is contemptuous of both Rabin and of the Oslo Accords, while Shlomtzion has turned from orthodoxy to secularism. Part of the novel revolves around her rediscovery of the possibilities of commitment to love and to religion. In her internal monologues addressed to Yair, Shlomtzion raises the major philosophical questions of the novel: “What does life want from us. . . . How long can a person meander through the maze that existence puts him in?” And the answer that emerges lies in the mystery of existence itself: that we decide “to come into the world in spite of everything, to be created despite how much easier it is not to bother.”
Beautifully lyrical, with philosophical reflections on love and fate, family and politics, culture and history.