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The Liberated Bride Hardcover – November 3, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As he has proved in acclaimed previous novels (Mr. Mani; Open Heart), Yehoshua is a keen observer of social and political realities, and a subtle writer capable of reflecting complex situations in events of daily life. Here, what at first appears to be a bittersweet comedy of domestic manners set in 1990s Israel morphs into a searching exploration of a politically divided society in which decent people, both Jews and Arabs, try to live peaceably with each other. To be sure, this is a small segment of Israeli society: the Israeli intelligentsia, represented by Professor Yochanan Rivlin and his wife, Hagit, a district judge, who live in Haifa, as well as educated Arabs in Galilee villages whose existence is circumscribed by the rules of occupation. Many mysteries shimmer beneath the narrative's surface. Underlying the affectionate domestic banter of Yochanan and Hagit is Yochanan's obsessive quest to discover what went wrong in the short marriage of their son and his wife, a quest complicated by a horrifying secret the sundered couple have vowed not to divulge. Meanwhile, an Arab graduate student of Yochanan's, whose wedding begins the narrative, seeks to earn her degree by translating the works of contemporary Arab poets collected by an Israeli scholar killed in a terrorist bombing. The threat of violence, while acknowledged by everyone, is not in the forefront of the plot, which is more concerned with the complacency of intelligent Israeli Jews in the face of the plight of their Arab neighbors. The grand achievement of this trenchant novel is its quietly provocative and deeply important consideration of how the desire for liberation of various kinds is inescapable in human nature. Although one character speaks in measured terms of "the abyss we are all about to fall into," it is the simple aspirations of ordinary people that illuminate the larger issues.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From The New Yorker

The three brides at the center of this gentle novel all refuse to do what Yochanan Rivlin, an aging Israeli professor of Near Eastern studies, wishes them to do. Samaher, a depressed Palestinian graduate student who is newly married, won't finish her seminar paper; Galya, soon to be a mother, won't tell him why she divorced his son; and Rivlin's wife, Hagit, a district judge, won't let him worry himself to death about it. Yehoshua, the most daring of the major Israeli writers, tells a simple story about a region that complicates all it touches. As Rivlin's obsession with his son's failed marriage grows, he also finds himself drawn into the world of his Palestinian student. The juxtaposition of a failed marriage and the turmoil of Israeli society suggests pointed political commentary, but Yehoshua's portrait of the hesitant courtship between the two peoples—sometimes tender and generous, sometimes grotesque and calamitous—remains, somehow, hopeful.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (November 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151006539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151006533
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,057,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Well written but too long and too many subsidiary plots brought in.
The characters are beautifully sketched, unfathomable at times, neurotic, loving and always interesting.
Blue in Washington
To all the readers who are wondering about the awkward prose - it must be the result of translation.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Yelbo on October 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It's rather hard to describe this enormous book in one short review. It's not a book really, but rather a chunk of life that sits quivering on your bookshelf. Other readers have summarized the plot well enough - it's a book about relationships, both political and personal - husband and wife, father and son, Israeli and Arab. I won't repeat.

What sets this book apart from other books is it's slow pace and masterful attention to detail. It draws you in, without your realizing it. By revealing so many aspects of the characters' lives and relationships, it gradually builds a complete and entire picture of the characters' world, until you feel as though it's your world too. Nothing is particularly suspenseful - you just feel as though you're living the main character's life, day by day, and discovering the world from a new perspective. At age seventeen, I am proud to state that I have served as a judge, studied Algeria's war-torn history, been through a broken marriage, and visited the West Bank with my personal driver. I cried and laughed with Ofer, felt Rivlin's anxiety and curiousity and excitement. A book that causes a female high school student to identify with a meddlesome old orientalist has to be something special.

I visited Jerusalem a few weeks after I read the book, and I was completely excited when we ate at a Humus place in Abu Gush, and when we passed through the Talpiyyot Neighborhood and saw the signs pointing to Shai Agnon's house, as if I was revisiting places that I knew well.

In that sense, this is a good read for anyone who wants to get a feel of Israel. However, the book was written before the recent intifada, and Israeli/Arab-Palestinian relationships in the book are FAR more easygoing and friendly than they are now.
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Format: Hardcover
A fifth-generation Israeli, this author has a deep understanding of his land and his people. He wrote this book in 1998, just before the recent troubles, and, while I was reading the book I kept thinking that it represented a somewhat kinder gentler time. True, there were checkpoints and identity cards and clear-cut tension between Arabs and Jews, but it was still possible to have respectful relations between the two groups. This very real landscape of Israel, as well as the world of academia, is only a background of this novel, however. The basic story is about relationships between husbands and wives and children and parents. However, after 556 pages of a slow but insightful read, I came away with an understanding of the people and the culture from the inside out.

The main character is Rivlin, a semi-retired professor of Arabic studies. He lives in a duplex apartment with his wife who he adores. She's a judge and holds a prestigious position. They have two grown sons. One is in the Army; the other one lives in Paris where he has fled after his marriage broke up five years before. The son has never told his father what happened to his marriage and the father is curious. One of the themes of the book is how Rivlin tries to discover this secret. Another theme is about a Arab female student who is working on her Master's degree and translating some Algerian works for the professor. The book opens with Rivlin and his wife attending her wedding. The theme of weddings and couples and marriages is returned to again and again. The individual human beings, both Arab and Jew, are all nice people, doing their best to simply live their lives in the complicated world in which they live.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "silkgirl" on January 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This much-anticipated novel by the prominent Israeli writer confirms his stature as one of today's greatest living authors. At once meticulously authentic and lyrically imaginative, the book follows the Orientalist Y. Rivlin in his insistent, even obsessive, quest for truth - both in his personal life and in the current and historical dynamics of conflict and politics in the Middle East. At its core is the ever-present exploration of identity - fluid, interdependent and ultimately undefinable. In beautiful passages translating Arabic love poetry from the middle ages, there is also a subtle hint of surrender for Rivlin - a grudging acknowledgment of failure to rationally understand his "subjects", leaving no option but a renewed immersion in the profound soulfulness and humanity of their lyrics.
Yehoshua is a master at combining detailed descriptions of everyday life with an ambitiously wide scope, creating for the reader the illusion of a mere plot-driven human story while actually presenting a masterpiece dripping with substance from its myriad artfully-designed folds, layers, nooks and crannies. A masterful achievement and a pleasure to read and re-read.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The insight into the human condition, the overall writing style, and the incredible characters make this one of the best reads I've come across in a long time. Yehoshua is remarkable in the way he blends atmosphere, plot, and people into this revealing tale. I highly recommend this book!!!
Also recommended: McCrae's Bark of the Dogwood and House of Sand and Fog
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