Customer Review

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing piece of fiction, July 29, 2000
This review is from: The Shawl (Paperback)
The Shawl is a hauntingly beautiful story and novella of a woman, Rosa, who watches her baby daughter, Magda, die at the hands of a concentration camp guard during the holocaust. Told in lyrical prose, Ms. Ozick captivates us with the symbol of the shawl representing everything that Rosa lost during the war. The shawl is what she hid her daughter Magda in at the concentration camp so that Magda wouldn't be thrown into the gas chambers. But, her evil niece Stella (who is with Rosa and Magda at the concentration camp) steals the shawl from the baby one night. The baby is then found and killed by a guard.
The rest of the story tells of Rosa's life 39 years later as she has taken residence in a dumpy hotel room in Florida that evil Stella (who now resides in New York) pays for. Here, Rosa lives day to day in a sort of mental fit, deluding herself that Magda is still a live, a beautiful lioness, a doctor married to a doctor, living in a gorgeous house in New York. Amid open sardine cans and half eaten eggs, Rosa writes letters to this daughter.
Toward the end of the novella, Rosa finally receives a box with the shawl in it which Stella has reluctantly sent to her. "Get on with your life; join a club; put on your bathing suit!" Stella tells her in a letter attached to the shawl. But, all that Rosa cares about is breathing in the shawl, Magda.
Overall, this was certainly one of the greatest pieces of writing I've ever had the chance to read. Cynthia Ozick knows her subject, is deeply deeply in tune with her characters and touches us with all that they feel and do.
I look forward to reading more of her work. She is a truly gifted writer who has much to offer the world.
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4.5 out of 5 stars (32 customer reviews)
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