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Raymond and Hannah Paperback – International Edition, December 6, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada (December 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038566124X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385661249
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,838,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his startling debut, Marche offers up a rare hybrid: the page-turner prose poem. Raymond and Hannah meet at a party in Toronto, and what might have been a one-night stand blossoms into something more enduring. In lyrical paragraphs labeled in the margins (e.g., "Lost virginities"), Marche maps out their five-day love affair with bursts of confession, philosophical musing and notes on the infinitesimal shifts of mood between kisses. On Raymond and Hannah's second day together, "The afternoon is a labyrinthine flex of joints twisted around each other in a variety of blisses." But at the end of the week, Hannah leaves Canada and her WASPy lover for a previously scheduled nine-month stay in Jerusalem. Their e-mail exchanges about their respective cities and pursuits—Raymond is writing a doctoral dissertation on Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy while Hannah studies Torah at an Orthodox yeshiva—don't necessarily forward the plot, but rather reveal how little two people can really tell each other. In between their letters, the novel offers utterly convincing glimpses of both characters' lives. Especially full-bodied is the evocation of Hannah's struggle to understand her Jewish identity, not just through study but through the city of Jerusalem itself. In this lushly romantic book, love between Jew and atheist gentile resembles the divided city, simultaneously impossible and actual. Agent, Jacqueline Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists (Toronto). (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A week before leaving for an intense course of study in Israel, the Jewish Hannah picks up the Gentile Raymond at a party. What is meant to be a one-night stand turns into an intense, weeklong affair. The assimilated Hannah is going to Israel to try to discover her roots and herself. Raymond is trying to avoid writing his dissertation on Robert Burton. They decide to continue the affair via e-mail and phone calls. This lyrical first novel is written in brief passages, each with its own subtitle. At first this might seem like an -Internet-age or postmodern writing gimmick, but the technique suits the subject matter well. The intellectual journeys of both protagonists are perhaps a little overexplained, since what is compelling here is their relationship with each other. The characters are likable and believable, and their romantic dilemma will resonate with many readers. Marta Segal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kaitlyn Kochany on June 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Raymond and Hannah seems at first like a pretentious little trip into the heart of an urban relationship. There's the very post-modern device of the author leaning into the text - in this case, he divides the book into short vignettes, emails, impressions, non sequitors and snippets of dialogue, all designed to create a layered and informative effect. Surprisingly, it works.
The characters of Raymond and Hannah, and their lives as students and lovers, come vividly alive in this book. When their torrid affair ends and Hannah leaves to study in Jerusalem, she goes a disaffected and modern woman. While at the yeshiva, however, she encounters her Jewish roots and creates an identity as a Jew, a woman, a woman in a long-distance relationship with a Gentile, and a complete, nuanced character. Raymond is just as fully fleshed out. Their first week together is just as vivid, packed with the details and shimmers of Real Love that is vital in making an experimental piece of writing work.
There are flaws here, as in everything. While perhaps vital as illumination to his character, Raymond's thesis is incredibly dull. The last third of the book is a touch confusing - the characters and the writing both lose a bit of focus. Overall, however, this is a charming and totally readable bit of fiction, and an interesting and modern meditation on identity, religion, finding one's place in the world, and love.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazoniac on June 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
...unfortunately, the words that come to mind are mediocre, lame, lazy, shallow, and a phrase: falling way short of its potential. Did the other reviewers even read (listen to) the same book I did?

Where to begin. The characters of Ramond and Hannah are NOT fully nuanced, ever. Their lives away from each other are not vivid and developed. They are incredibly shallow characters-- not because of the week of sex-- although that part could have had some more emotional depth, too. They seem to have no real interior lives, and so they have nothing to share with each other.

I'm very critical of reviewers who review the book that should have been written instead of the book that WAS written... but I'm going to do that very thing. The premise was good. Two people meet, have a week of passionate connected sex, fall in love, separate to two very different lifestyles. Can their love sustain the separation and changes? Good idea.

But when Raymond and Hannah separate, their emails are one and two liners most of the time. This is why I say they are shallow and have no interior emotional or intellectual worlds to share with each other or through which to connect. I still have one hour to listen to, but up to this point, they only talk on the phone ONCE. Hel-LO! In love? I don't think so. They don't pour out the details of their lives the way people do when they're newly in love and want to know everything about each other. This is why I called the book "lazy." I think the author was just too lazy to do the work of filling out his characters. The novel has NO conflict. I would say this is just a very long short story, but even short stories have conflict. One of the reviewers above called this a "prose poem." Give me a break. That's just more laziness on the part of the author.
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Raymond is a doctoral candidate writing a dissertation on Robert Burton's "The Anatomy of Melancholy" at the University of Toronto. Hannah, another Toronto resident, is going to Jerusalem in six days to study Torah at an Orthodox egalitarian Institute. The two hook-up at a party. Neither expects more than a one-night stand. But the attraction between Hannah and Raymond is an intense one and continues far beyond one night. They are passionate together, physically, emotionally, intellectually. They laugh a lot. In short, they're falling in love and have an extremely brief period of time to do so. They are aware and stressed by the limitations of their situation.

Raymond is an atheist. He expresses himself with irreverent humor, and eloquence, on Judaism, Christianity and Islam in a memorable passage, which I would quote here if it weren't so long. On the other hand, Hannah has trouble explaining her journey to Raymond, and to herself. "What it is is a program for North American almost-assimilated Jews like me, who are messed up about their Jewish identity and want to deal with it. And they tell you, this is what being a Jew is, and you are one. Oh, and here's how you do all the things that make you Jewish."

Their six days together take place in her sunlit attic apartment, bare now except for a bed, like an island in the middle of the room. They also spend some time at Raymond's place, a dark basement flat, and at a cottage on Enigma Lake, north of Toronto. Meals are shared at various ethnic restaurants, and in bed. They visit funky bars, drink wine, bourbon and crantinis, and explore each other's bodies, histories and minds.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa Hodder on September 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
This novel is a clear and honest portrayal of love in the face of culture clash - Raymond, the academic aesthete versus Hannah, in training to become "a good Jew". Whether or not the "love conquers all" mantra applies here is for the reader to find out. The unusual format might at first seem distracting, but pulls you in the more you read. An engaging first novel from Stephen Marche.
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