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When I Lived in Modern Times Paperback – December 31, 2002
A girl with loyalty to both sides in a war—and the dangerous opportunity to save lives. Learn More
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In Palestine, of course, the English are the enemy. Evelyn is soon drawn into a world of shifting identities, lies, and secrets by her passionate Zionist boyfriend, Johnny. Even then, she is never quite sure which side she is on, or where she belongs. All of this makes her a prototypical inhabitant of Linda Grant's Tel Aviv, a city of contradictions and of hope. More to the point, Grant's heroine is a fully believable figure, a chameleon of a kind readily recognizable to those of us who grew up as part of the seismic displacement of peoples that accompanied World War II--and, alas, to anyone who has been caught up in the more recent exoduses from Bosnia, Kosovo, and Albania. --Lisa Jardine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Growing up in England, the daughter of a woman who has cut ties from her own immigrant family and a shadowy American father only glimpsed through one old photograph, Evelyn is always reminded that she is second class, and the only thing that fiercely endures is her Jewish identity. When her mother dies an early death, her mother's lover, "Uncle Joe", who has fed and clothed them all these years, and fed Evelyn as well on Zionism, encourages her to go to Palestine, and basically pays her off to do so. One senses that it is not entirely out of conviction but a convenient way to get Evelyn out of the way of his real family.
A frustrated artist, she goes to work at the only way she knows how to make a real living, as a hairdresser. In her hairdresser's capacity, she is recruited for mundane underground assignments by the mysterious sexy "Johnny", who becomes her lover. Eventually caught out by the British and forced to leave the country, Evelyn's idealistic dream disintegrates, and that is the tie-in to the book's title, but it does not end there. A mature and wizened Evelyn returns to Israel to live out her twilight years.Read more ›
Evelyn herself is a mere two generations away from a Latvian shtetl. In England, she feels more Jewish than English. She gets to Palestine pretending to be a Christian tourist. In Palestine, she's continually being mistaken for being English. In Tel Aviv where Evelyn settles, German Holocaust survivors sit in the beachside cafes, wearing black suits, discussing German literature, music, art and culture, trying to recreate the life they knew in Germany. As the pressure for a Jewish state builds and the British evacuate nonessential personnel, an older British woman wails that Palestine has been her home since childhood. "They're sending me back to England. I hardly know it. I'm going into exile, but you people know all about that." Behind her back, a Jewish baker laughs.
This is a beautifully written book. Toward the end of the book, Evelyn says, "Look at it this way, we are the people of the Book. It is the first thousand years of Jewish history and, though we have no second volume for the next two thousand years, each story a Jew tells is part of that book. We have no choice but to listen."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book for a book club and really enjoyed it. I learned a lot about the formation of the State of Israel and really was taken in by the story. Read morePublished on April 30, 2014 by CINC Homefront
The book starts out being fairly interesting and paints a realistic picture of the realities of Israel in the late 1940s. However, the last 20 pages or so make no sense at all. Read morePublished on February 17, 2014 by alison rubin
Great read. Loved the subject matter and found that this book was exactly as what the synopsis said. Good book.Published on March 26, 2013 by skl
I just saw the film The Search again, after many years. It is a terrific movie about a mother looking for her son in Germany after the war. Read morePublished on May 24, 2011 by BabsD
Riveting narrative. I knew nothing about Israel before reading it, but Grant's story, at once personal and epic, is breathtaking without losing touch of the human elements. Read morePublished on February 5, 2004 by c.w.
I am British and I now live in Israel having emmigrated here (albeit in 1999 and not 1946). And I love Tel Aviv and its history. Read morePublished on October 10, 2002
Ms. Grant's fascinating tale of the life of a girl of confused and sometimes ambiguous identity is both enthralling and pleasurable to read. Read morePublished on April 18, 2002 by C. Szabla
I read this book when it first came out. Now that Israel is in the news, it's refreshing to read about better times, the first times, even if it is fictionalized. Read morePublished on April 17, 2002 by Samantha Whitfield
Linda Grant's novel sheds historical perspective on today's violence. The setting is 1946. Thousands of new white Bauhaus buildings in the new city of Tel Aviv have been built on... Read morePublished on March 13, 2002 by David Welles