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The Lawgiver: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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*Starred Review* Wouk has been trying to come up with a way to write a novel about Moses ever since he wrote The Caine Mutiny, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952. At age 97, the venerated author of panoramic best-sellers finally takes on the challenge of portraying the biblical lawgiver. But with a twist: this witty and wise epistolary novel is about a writer named Herman Wouk, who is having a devil of a time starting his novel about Moses. Herman’s struggle with this confounding project is interrupted by “the red-hot moviemaker of the hour,” who pesters him to write a screenplay instead. Through a barrage of e-mails, faxes, letters, and text messages, Herman, guided by his skeptical wife, Betty Sarah, agrees only to consult. So it is up to a bold young director, Margo Solovei, to write the anti–Cecil B. DeMille Moses screenplay. Margo has turned her back on her Orthodox upbringing and the mensch of a lawyer who stubbornly loves her, but she soon finds herself reconsidering her Jewish heritage and being single. Brisk, funny, and incisive, Wouk’s romantic comedy of art versus love slyly updates the story of the beloved star of his indelible novel Marjorie Morningstar (1955), while nimbly (at last!) retelling the story of Moses. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This smart, playful novel, along with Wouk’s remarkably sustained literary exuberance, will garner major media attention and avid reader interest. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
“A lighthearted and delightful tour de force.” (The Washington Times)
"The Lawgiver is an unadulterated delight, a compelling, old-fashioned story in sleek new-fashioned clothes. How fortunate it is for readers that Mr. Wouk, who published The Caine Mutiny when I was but four years old, has not lost an iota of his storytelling genius. The Lawgiver is fast, funny, romantic, and moving." (Stephen King)
"An engaging comedy/love story about present-day Hollywood." (USA Today)
"Mr. Wouk’s satirical (and accurate) depiction of Hollywood’s bizarre ins and outs is merciless." (The New York Times)
“Wouk makes commanding use of the epistolary form, and what emerges is an entertaining addition to his literary canon. It's clever without being too cutesy, revealing a writer who - at 96 - shows little sign of slowing down.” (Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY))
“[I] n some essential way, this book about a movie about a book is also about the very act of writing books. Wouk reminds us of the eternal value of storytelling while he shows 30- and 50- and 80-year-old whippersnappers how it’s done.” (Washington Post)
"“Read this one. You’ll smile all the way through.” (Hudson Valley News (NY))
“Readers will undoubtedly marvel at the ability of a ninety-seven year old author to produce a book with such an unusual format. Regardless of their opinion about the book’s design, anything written by Herman Wouk is worth reading and The Lawgiver is no exception.” (The Jerusalem Post)
“Honest, highly readable, entertaining." (Moment magazine)
“…The Lawgiver is a combination of sweet romantic comedy and sly Hollywood satire, and it is as much fun to read as it seems to have been to write….Wouk excels in channeling distinctive voices." (The Columbus Dispatch (OH)) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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An Australian billionaire, a Jew, wishes to finance a movie about Moses. It will have to depart from the legendary but flawed DeMille box office smash of the 1950's. The idea is originally to have Wouk write the script. Having problems writing his own novel about Moses, Wouk declines but agrees to a proposition that he must approve the script before the plan goes forward. A young screenwriter and director, Margo Solovei gets the assignment, daughter of an Orthodox Rabbi, but herself a lapsed Jew. The trials of the project are endless. The relationships between and among people linked by either a desire to get the project done and done accurately, as well as between schemers, friends,lovers and kin, are fodder for Wouk's knowing and insightful look at human nature. He has said that his real focus has been about being Jewish in America. But his real understanding is his insight into people, their wants, needs and fears and joys.
The Lawgiver makes no pretense to being anything more than it is, 240 pages of gentle fun. That is a plentiful gift from an old man willing and still able to dispense it to his readers.
I was surprised by a short and satisfying novel that reeks of modernity in its epistolary format using only letters, tape recordings, e-mails, text messages, fax and even Skype between the main characters (including HW and his wife) to tell the story. The prose adapts to each method of correspondence and is as sharp, and probably more learned and philosophical than his more action-packed stories from earlier days.
This may not be a book for everyone as it is essentially Jewish, and especially American Jewish which, as a Protestant Australian, is far outside my cultural and religious comfort zone. But the writing and the passion for the subject, and especially for the characters kept me mesmerised and fully entertained.
Basically, the initial plot is that HW (in the book) has long dreamed of writing a novel about the life of Moses, the prophet who is at the foundation of all three of the world's the major monotheistic religions and "the most humble man in the world". The project had only got to the stage of a yellowed, almost empty folder at the bottom of a drawer when HW is approached by a leading Jewish filmmaker to write a screenplay about the life of Moses, to be financed by a Jewish billionaire from Australia. HW compromises by agreeing to vet the work of Margo Solevi, a successful young Jewish filmmaker with a great knowledge and understanding of the story of Moses drilled into her by her estranged Rabbi father.
The life of Moses is really peripheral to the main plot which revolves around the sometimes very amusing machinations of the Jewish dominated US film industry and more importantly the lives of several younger Jewish Americans who are struggling to come to terms with the legacies of being brought up in strict Jewish household. To me it is essentially a clever personal and professional romantic coming-of-age story with a Jewish background.
I could be picky at some of the Australian background which HW's editor's should have improved (for example Fair Dinkum means real or genuine, not OK) but that would be uncharitable to HW's work. It was great to me to see HW use the legendary background of Uluru (Ayers Rock) for a romantic interlude and to cast a humble and honest Australian bloke (or "mensch" - a good man) as Moses in the movie.
The ending was especially emotional as HW's wife, and mentor of 63 years didn't see the end of this book. A few years ago HW said to his wife that he had 3 more books to write. "Is one of them fiction?" "Yes" "Then write that one." "Why?" "Because we're living it up (her brand of Zen)". The last page of the book has a small photo of Betty when HW met her - what a beautiful woman.
A recent New York Times interview with HW tells that this lovely picture is framed on his desk. He told the NYT that his next book is already well under way. "I have written a large section, of which I will tell you nothing," he said, smiling.
This book was an eye-opener, and hard to put down. It really
It was facinating to read the communications between the different people, and I'm sure Mr. Wouk had a lot of fun getting in digs at certain people in Hollywood, though I don't know how to put the real names to the descriptions.
My only disappointment was reading how Perry Pines was going to marry his soon to be ex-neighbour's 16 yr. old daughter (I wanted him - he sounds like a magnificent, manly hunk, but he's straight, as well as imaginary; no-one's perfect).
To Mr. Wouk on the loss of your dear wife, z"l: HaMakom Yenachem Otcha Im Sha'ar Avlei Zion veYerushalayim, vesheLo Teida Da'ava Od.
I don't think there is anyone from 15-105 who would not enjoy this book.
Most recent customer reviews
Three stars does not mean I disliked Herman Wouk’s The Lawgiver, it means it was OK. Maybe a little better than, just not much.Read more