A FEAST OF ASHES by Sally Rosenbluth


Email this review


There's a relentless overcast of sour psyche-watching in this story about 31-year-old Sara Stone (nÉe Steiner), daughter of an American-scientist mother and a quick-deserting Israeli father. At the beginning, divorced Sara is in Rome, idling with a minor job and a transient Italian lover. Hers is a weary world you're not eager to enter: the jam ""looked like glue,"" the coffee pot is ""streaked with soot,"" and ""there was a thin line of glistening sweat in the seam of flesh where my arm bent."" Things can only look up. But they don't; they simply become more intense. Sara is nudged into going to Israel, where hated physicist-father Gideon is in ill health--as flashbacks spell out the arid stretch of past hostility: Sara's visit 14 years ago ended in a stand-off, and she found no rapport with her half-sister, model Avigal. Now she's visiting again--meeting Gideon's fourth wife Paulette, barely tolerating Avigal's nervous Gideon-fixation, becoming fascinated by the stern stability of Avigal's husband Joshua. And as Sara is gradually drawn into her father's ""egocentric"" nature, she begins to eye the new identity this recognition gives her; she finds herself violently in love with Joshua; and although his marriage vows are for keeps, Joshua allows himself to be ""seduced."" Finally Gideon urges Sara away from the ""forbidden"" (then dies); Avigal, pregnant with her second child, knows of the affair but will not interfere; and Sara is left with a brief sense of victory, like that of the Israelis after the 1967 war. . . which serves as a background for the last act of this strenuously opaque domestic drama. Heavy weather.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Atheneum