*NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, STARRING RACHEL WEISZ AND RACHEL MCADAMS
*AUTHOR OF ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S FAVORITE READS
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Power comes a novel about a young woman who must return home in the wake of her father’s death and confront the tight-knit Orthodox community that she ran away from—reigniting the old flames of forbidden love.
When a young photographer living in New York learns that her estranged father, a well-respected rabbi, has died, she can no longer run away from the truth, and soon sets out for the Orthodox Jewish community in London where she grew up.
Back for the first time in years, Ronit can feel the disapproving eyes of the community. Especially those of her beloved cousin, Dovid, her father’s favorite student and now an admired rabbi himself, and Esti, who was once her only ally in youthful rebelliousness. Now Esti is married to Dovid, and Ronit is shocked by how different they both seem, and how much greater the gulf between them is.
But when old flames reignite and the shocking truth about Ronit and Esti’s relationship is revealed, the past and present converge in this award-winning and critically acclaimed novel about the universality of love and faith, and the strength and sacrifice it takes to fight for what you believe in—even when it means disobedience.
Alderman draws on her Orthodox Jewish upbringing and current life in Hendon, England, for her entertaining debut, which won the Orange Prize for New Writers after it was published in the U.K. in March. In writing about the inhabitants of this small, gossipy society, Alderman cleverly uses a slightly sinister, omniscient "we" to represent a community that speaks with one voice, and her descriptions of Orthodox customs are richly embroidered. Alternating with this perspective is the first-person narrative of Ronit Krushka, a woman who has left the community and is now a financial analyst in New York. After the death of her estranged father, a powerful rabbi, Ronit returns to England to mourn her father and to confront her past, including a female lover. But Ronit's shock that an Orthodox lesbian would marry a man rings false, as does her casually condescending attitude toward the community. By the time of the theatrical, unrealistic climax, Ronit's struggle between religious and secular imperatives gets reduced to clich ("all we have, in the end, are the choices we make"), but Ronit works well as a vehicle for the opinion that even the most alienated New York Judaism is preferable to the English version, where "the Jewish fear of being noticed and the natural British reticence interact."