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Lovingkindness Paperback – October 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Warner Books ed edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446673889
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446673884
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,044,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Roiphe's (Up the Sandbox) intriguing new novel takes on the issues of religious fundamentalism, parent-child relationships, feminism and other challenges of contemporary life. Narrator and single parent Annie Johnson is a political scientist and teacher, and an assimilated Jew. She is appalled when her alienated, rebellious daughter decides to live in the narrow community of an Israeli orthodox yeshiva, which to Annie represents regression and fanaticism. In the sanctuary of the Bruria Yeshiva, Andrea claims to have found spiritual peace and a direction for her life, even to the point of accepting an arranged marriage. Annie, who is of a generation that looks to psychiatrists rather than to God for answers, and whose aspirations for her daughter stressed intellectual accomplishment and independence, is forced to examine her own cherished beliefs and values. She is helped in this search by a series of dreams in which an old rabbi poses symbolic riddles. Though initially effective, the dream device is overworked and the narrative is robbed of momentum. In other respects, however, the story rings true, especially in reflecting the heartache that ensues when a child repudiates parents, culture and homeland. By turns caustic and lyrical, the novel gives full expression to the ambiguities of the situation, adding a modern dimension to the age-old debate between faith and reason. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Roiphe's first novel in a decade seems a natural extension of the feminism of her early novels and the self-examination of her Jewishness in Generation Without Memory. New Yorker Annie Johnson, widowed during pregnancy, taught her daughter Andrea about options for women and has watched her become an uncontrollable punk doper whose future at 22 is questionable. Then Andrea finds peace and a new life in a fundamentalist yeshiva in Israel, where she renounces secularism and independence. Annie, horrified, takes action when an arranged marriage is proposed and is forced to make painful choices herself for the sake of her daughter's happiness. Heartfelt in its examination of the mother-daughter bond, but a bit weighty with its pervasive religious atmosphere; likely to be limited in appeal. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

For me, it made non stop reading.
Naomi C. Zipkin
It's a fascinating question, but the book didn't ultimately pay off for me.
K. Schwarting
I did not want to read a treatise on feminism, or on the evils of religion.
Jan R. Schulman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Marcy L. Thompson VINE VOICE on August 31, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book shines. It is a book about the love between a mother and daughter, about the obstacles on the path to perfect understanding between them, about the ways in which children disappoint and delight their parents. Both the mother and the daughter are completely believable. It is impossible to predict what will happen to them after the book's end.
The writing is wonderful, almost lyric. The characters are fully drawn. The plot is entirely organic, with no disruptive elements. The story is firmly rooted in the second half of the 20th century, in the evolution of American Jewry and the haredi response to it. The booked moved me deeply. There is nothing to disappoint in this book, except that it ends.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Laurel-Rain Snow TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 27, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When Annie Johnson, a feminist single mother learns that her twentysomething daughter Andrea has joined a Yeshiva in Israel, she is stunned. After all, this is the same daughter who partied, got piercings and tattoos, and experimented with drugs. The same daughter whose
self-destructive behavior and rebellious attitude have kept her on tenterhooks for the past several years.

Not sure what to make of it, Annie researches all that is available to know about this Yeshiva - and learns that they are a traditional Jewish group that focuses on teaching the Talmud, how to keep kosher, and, startlingly, they arrange marriages between the men and women.

This is such an antithesis of everything she has taught her daughter, so Annie reels from the information. At first, she tells herself that Andrea will tire of the group, as she has of everything else in her young life. Her attention span is short, etc. Then she receives a letter - Andrea informs her that she is now "Sarai", her new name and that she is becoming a new person.

Over the next several months, they communicate, and with each epistle, Annie's heart sinks - she falls into reminiscences of the times when Andrea, as a young girl, was loving, affectionate, and didn't rebel. She is also tortured by dreams of an ancient Rabbi, who comes to her with messages - metamorphic messages that seem to be premonitions of sorts.

Finally Annie receives a communication from the Rose family, whose son has been chosen to marry Andrea/Sarai. They, too, are disturbed by the turn of events. They commiserate and ultimately, plan to go to Israel to investigate.

In Israel, events become unpredictable as the story winds down to its unexpected conclusion.

What does Annie learn at the Yeshiva?
Read more ›
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By K. Schwarting on June 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I began this book with a great sense of anticipation, but ultimately found myself let down.
The novel traces the relationship between a liberal feminist mother, Annie, and her daughter Andrea. Like many mother/daughter narratives, the early part of the novel traces the failures of both--Annie's attempts to impress her own beliefs upon her daughter, and her daughter's rebellion from them.
Andrea's character makes a 180-degree turn in the middle of the novel, just as the reader gets used to her being a hostile, ungrateful, screw-up. Why does she become an ultra-Orthodox Jew? It's a fascinating question, but the book didn't ultimately pay off for me.
For me, the book's major downfall is the initial set-up of the characters. Andrea was, as noted above, too unlikeable to grab my sympathy or my interest to find out exactly what has become of her.
I note that my feelings are decidedly in the minority--most reviewers have liked this book much better than I did. For my opinion, though, there are much better narratives about Jewish mother/daughter relationships and modern Jewish literature in general.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
Both a heartwarming and heart-wrenching novel of a mother-daughter relationship in turmoil. Sometimes Annie's '60's feminism is exasperating in light of the difficult teen years her daughter experienced. Then again, one can sympathize with a mother who only wants what is best for her only child. This novel is a beautifully written and tender exploration in the relationship of these two. It also incorporates so much of the Jewish American agenda of the past thirty years. An excellent read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jan R. Schulman on February 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read this book, wanting to stop reading it constantly, but hoping that something redeeming would occur that would justify my spending my time with it. The constant dreams (without interpretation)about the Rabbi which went on and on; the hateful letters between mother and daughter, the hideous way in which both the feminist and the Lubivitch beliefs were presented, neither of which reflect anything that I have ever known or ever hope to know. This was NOT a loving mother, nor a loving daughter. These were not Jews I have ever known (and I know the Chabad Jews), who would go to such lengths to separate a mother and daughter; these are not parents I would want to know, detesting their own children's beliefs without even bothering to see if there is any validity to the life style they have chosen. I could not find a moment's redemption in this book. I give it two stars instead of one because there were a few passages of nice writing that I appreciated. However, there was WAY TOO MUCH LECTURING for a novel. Roiphe goes off on a tangent every time she wants to make a point, instead of showing the reader, through her characters and storyline, what she wants to convey. It gets very boring. I did not want to read a treatise on feminism, or on the evils of religion. I had hoped for a story that showed a relationship, albeit flawed, between a mother and daughter, that had become polarized. At any rate, I ended up just hating this book and being sorely disappointed that I spent the time I had reading it. It just annoyed me.
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