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The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris
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The Marrying of Chani Kaufman

by Eve Harris

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1981359,709 (3.85)53
  1. 00
    I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Literary novels about multiple generations of ultra Orthodox Jewish women.
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Clever and satisfying novel about those curious, bright and rational individuals living within the insular, conformist world of Orthodox Judaism. Not easy for a young man or woman faced daily with inconsistencies, untruths and insincerity of this restrictive community to ask questions, learn the truth, let alone express their individuality, thoughts and desires. But not impossible if done covertly and with caution.

Marriage may initially seem like an escape from a too large and poor family, or from demanding, critical and domineering parents or older siblings, but with time it becomes evident that one may have jumped from the frying pan directly into the fire.

I believe Chani will soon see she may be luckier than most in her husband, and he with her.

Harris has done an amazing job of describing the individuals, the community, it’s rules, the questions from within and from outside, without being academic, boring, or disrespectful. Her writing is strong, fresh and inviting. And I love the twists and turns the novel takes.

I definitely recommend this novel to those who like to learn about different ways of life, and yet know that most people are more similar than different. ( )
  Bookish59 | Oct 6, 2017 |
Longlisted for the Man Booker? I can't see it. Perhaps this novel of Orthodox Jews in London and Jerusalem was appealing because the milieu was foreign to the judges, but I didn't think it was any more remarkable than others in the genre. The most unique part was the saga of a couple who met in Jerusalem as non-practicing Jews and became Rabbi and Rebbetzin. To see their evolution, or, more accurately, his, and her succumbing to the hard life out of love for him, was stirring. The second couple are 19 and 20 and decide to marry after the requisite three dates. As in any extremist religion, the women get the worst of it. ( )
  froxgirl | Jan 24, 2017 |
An interesting, enjoyable read, and yet... Rather too much telling, not enough showing. For example, Chani becomes very attached to the Rabbi's wife: why? We barely see them together. Still, I would read more by this author. ( )
1 vote Heduanna | Nov 2, 2014 |
Eve Harris’s novel of life, marriage and love (and yes, they’re listed in that order for a reason) among the ultra-Orthodox of London’s Golder’s Green neighborhood is exactly as good as it ought to be—and that’s saying something, considering that it was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

What at first appears to be the story of one marriage turns out to be the story of two marriages: Chani Kaufman, 19, is about to wed Baruch Levy, 20, as the story opens, but through flashbacks, we learn that the Rebbe and Rebbetzin Zilberman, who are mentoring the young couple, have their own story of life, love and marriage.

Chani and Baruch have flouted tradition by selecting each other—no matchmaker here, just Baruch’s determination, matched by Chani’s, once his mother expresses her opposition. Overlaid with this modest move toward progressivism is the life of Rebbetzin Rivka—once the secular Rebecca—Zilberman, courted by the Rabbi when both were young in Jerusalem.

Harris’s use of language and setting add depth to a story that already has all the emotional resonance one could hope for, and it’s a good look at why exactly some traditional ways of life persist in the midst of modernity.

Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com ( )
1 vote KelMunger | Jun 5, 2014 |
3.5 I knew absolutely nothing about the Jewish Orthodox culture before reading this book, so I could not understand many of the terms and words used. Thankfully a glossary was included at the end of the book.

Chani is a young woman, about to be married. All marriages in this culture are arranged through a matchmaker, and there are specific steps taken leading up to the event. The young woman are kept ignorant on exactly what is going to happen on their wedding night. Chain is a rather more spirited girl than many of her peers and she does not want to be married and to be tired out by constant pregnancies, liked that of her mother. Her mother has eight daughters and is overwhelmed, a feeling that pervades the life of the family. We are treated to Chani's thoughts and fears as well as those of her husband to be.

As much as I enjoyed the character of Chani it is Rivka's story that I liked even more. Her crisis of faith, the tragedies in her family and the heartbreak she felt all made her the fully realized character for me at least.

Very good story about the customs and faith of an unfamiliar culture. ( )
1 vote Beamis12 | Jun 2, 2014 |
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Therefore shall each man forsake his mother and father, and cling to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23, 24)
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For Jules and Rosie
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The bride stood like a pillar of salt, rigid under layers of itchy petticoats.
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19 year-old Chani lives in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of North West London. She is about to marry a boy she scarcely knows. The rabbi's wife has taught her what it means to be a Jewish wife, but Rivka has her own questions to answer as her own life and marriage fall apart. Buried secrets begin to surface in a story where everyone, young and not so young, has choices to make about love and desire.… (more)

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