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Dearest Anne: A Tale of Impossible Love (Jewish Women Writers) Paperback – May 1, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When Rivi Shenhar returns to Israel for a funeral, she unearths a collection of her childhood diaries kept decades before. Addressed to Anne Frank, her old diaries chronicle Rivi’s impassioned and intense coming-of-age. Rivi grows up in mid-1970s rural Israel, living with her mother, a critical and vacant woman, after her parents divorce. Though largely isolated by her peers and superiors, 14-year-old Rivi is intellectually and emotionally inquisitive, and she finds solace in a budding relationship with her literature teacher, Michaela, who is engaged to be married. This relationship soon evolves into an illicit, passionate affair that lasts for years, providing Rivi and Michaela with the love and companionship they crave. Katzir’s prose is evocative, at times furiously erotic, as Rivi archives her progression from insecure teenager into a self-assured woman. The story is most affecting in the moments of internal reflection from an adult Rivi, later a mother and accomplished author, and in the raw emotion she rediscovers within the narratives of her adolescent self. --Leah Strauss

About the Author

Best-selling Israeli author Judith Katzir studied General Literature and Cinema at Tel Aviv University, where she now teaches Creative Writing. She is the author of Matisse Has the Sun in His Belly, which received the Book Publishers Association's Platinum and Gold Book Prizes, the Prime Minister's Prize, and the French WIZO Prize. Dalya Bilu is a well-known translator of Hebrew literature and has translated the works of Zeruya Shalev, A.B.Yehoshua, Yaakov Shabtai, Aharon Appelfeld, Judith Katzir, Batia Gur and more. She has been awarded The Israel Culture and Education Ministry Prize for Translation, the Times Literary Supplement Prize and the Jewish Book Council Award for Hebrew-English Translation.
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Product Details

  • Series: Jewish Women Writers
  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155861575X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558615755
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,287,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm a little conflicted about how to review this book. On one hand, it's well-written and provocative and it does present a beautifully-observed time capsule of Israel in the late 1970s when the country's youth was freeing itself from the strictures of classic Zionism and opening itself to the world of hedonistic sexual liberation.
It's also rich in literary allusions (curiously, one scene refers to Goethe's poem, "The Erlking" which also looms large in my own book The Nazi Hunter: A Novel
On the other hand, there's something very nasty and vile at the center of the book that the author only half-acknowledges -- an affair between a 14-year-old girl and her 28-year-old English teacher.
The fact that this is a lesbian affair didn't bother me. The fact that such blatant child-abuse is presented as something beautiful and precious did.
The book is cast in the form of a diary written by 14-year-old Rivi Shenhav. Inspired by Anne Frank who wrote her diary to an imaginary friend she called "Kitty", Rivi writes her diary to Anne and signs her entries Kitty. Some suggested this device is disrespectful to the Holocaust and the memory of its victims. I don't agree. It's an effective framing device and makes the point that in many ways Rivi gets to live the life Anne was denied by the Nazis. Rivi and Anne share many characteristics, not least a literary talent and poetic sensibility. I can definitely imagine a young Israeli girl identifying with Anne. It may be that Katzir is arguing for a more nuanced way for Israelis to grapple with the Holocaust and memory. Two scenes regarding the way Holocaust Memorial Day is observed in her school in Haifa make that point in interesting ways.
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Format: Paperback
Finely translated into English by Dalya Bilu, "Dearest Anne: A Tale of Impossible Love" is the story of Rivi, many decades after a lesbian love affair with her teacher. The teacher, Michaela, has passed on, and Rivi returns to Israel to pay her condolences and mourn a relationship that could never be. Faced with the results of her decision in life, she turns to her notebooks addressed to Anne Frank to help her reflect. An original tale, "Dearest Anne: A Tale of Impossible Love" is highly recommended for community library world fiction collections.
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By BP on August 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
All girls and women 13 and up should read this book. I wish it had been around when I was a teen. Women who have never loved a woman will have their eyes opened wide, and women who had been lucky enough to experience the total devotion of another female will have plenty to relate to. And those ladies who have struggled between loving both sexes, will put this book on the top of their all time favorites list. It certainly has become one of my favorite books of all time. I actually bought this for a friend, because I didn't want to lend her mine.
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By JC on February 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
A beautiful love story between a girl and her married female literature teacher. I read this with wonder and fascination. It captivated me. I keep renewing it from the library looking over every word with wonder. I just finished it two days ago, and I'm starting it again. Judith Katzir captures me. This is the best book (bar far) I've ever read. I was very close to tears near the end. I enjoyed this book - what a beautiful composition.
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