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What To Do About The Solomons by Bethany…
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What To Do About The Solomons

by Bethany Ball

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What to Do about the Solomons is about a family of Israelis. They are people who have come from somewhere and are going somewhere and are never still. We learn about the patriarch, Yakov, born on a kibbutz to Bulgarian Jews, brought up with the strong communist beliefs of the kibbutzim. His future wife, Vivienne, is one of the wave of North African Jews who come after World War Two, who is beautiful and proud and refuses to bend to the ways of the kibbutz women.

Yakov is a charismatic, powerful man who makes money for the kibbutz, and, as they liberalise, for himself. His children move away from their upbringing and work all over the world, and each, in their own way, challenges Yakov’s worldview and his ability to control their future.

What to Do about the Solomons has multiple points of view and shifting chronology. Sometimes it starts a scene, leaves it, and then comes back several pages later. There is no clear narrative arc or overarching theme. Lots of stuff happens to lots of people is about as structured as it gets.

This kind of thing normally bugs me. If the author hasn’t worked out the structure, then I feel they don’t really know what they’re trying to say. However, I reserve the right to contradict myself and in this book, I think it works. It is like eavesdropping on the stories people tell at family parties, talking over and contradicting one another, fuzzy on the chronology or even the protagonists, but each insisting that their version captures the essential truth.

What to Do about the Solomons offers an interesting perspective on Israeli life, and on the changing culture as experienced by three generations of one family. It is irreverent, pacy and very sharp.
*
I received a copy of What to Do about the Solomons from the publisher via Netgalley.
This review first appeared on my blog https://katevane.com/blog/ ( )
  KateVane | Apr 28, 2018 |
"What to do with the Solomons? The Solomons will do for themselves."

"One day honey, the next day onions."

This novel focuses on the Israeli Solomon family, patriarch Yakov and his wife Vivienne, and their 5 children. They mostly remain in Israel, some on a kibbutz, but Marc, the favorite son has moved to Los Angeles with his family. As the novel opens, Marc has just been arrested and charged with some vague, but serious, financial crimes.

The novel is told non-chronologically in a sporadic manner with abrupt changes of pov character, setting, time and plot points. This makes the novel very difficult to follow and to become engaged in. I felt it to be very scattered and incomplete, with no emotional center, and too many characters and events glossed quickly over--it was like the pilot for what is hoped to be a long-running family saga tv series. I actually read through this twice, the second time making an outline of each "episode" or section, noting the characters involved and the events describe. It didn't make me like the book any better.

1 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Dec 18, 2017 |
What To Do About The Solomons by Bethany Ball is a fictional book taking place in a kibbutz in Israel. Ms. Ball lived in Israel at some point in her life, and the narrative shows it.

This is a strange read even though I am familiar with the society it speaks about. The story took about half the book to make sense, but I’m glad I stuck with it. The author fills the pages with quirky characters of the same family.

Even though the Solomons live in a supposedly socialistic society, there is still the matter of inheritance when the Yakov Solmon, the partriarch, dies and everyone knows he is a rich man, kibbutz or not. Yakov Solomon has five legitimate kids and maybe a few others sprinkled around the kibbutz. The book revolves around the story of each of those kids.

The author does not shy away from pain or happiness, as is real life. The people in the story have their positive traits and faults, many of which are inherited from Yakov himself.

This is certainly not a book for everyone, the reader needs to make some assumptions, pay a bit of attention, and keep in mind a large cast. I enjoyed this book, it developed well enough and I’m glad I finished reading the novel.

For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com ( )
  ZoharLaor | Sep 23, 2017 |
A hilarious multigenerational family saga set in Israel, New York, and Los Angeles that explores the secrets and gossip-filled lives of the members of a kibbutz community.
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Sep 22, 2017 |
Plenty of quirky characters about this Israeli family with members both Israel and the US. I look forward to more writing from Ball. Her skill in creating a story that kept me reading to the end. Yes, I could put it down, but I was always glad when I had time to pick up the book again. ( )
  brangwinn | Aug 6, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802124577, Hardcover)

From a remarkable new voice in fiction, Bethany Ball, comes a transporting debut; a hilarious multigenerational family saga set in Israel, New York, and Los Angeles that explores the secrets and gossip-filled lives of a kibbutz community near Jerusalem

Meet Marc Solomon, an Israeli ex-Navy commando now living in L.A., who is falsely accused of money laundering through his asset management firm. As the Solomons’ Santa Monica home is raided, Marc’s American wife, Carolyn—concealing her own dark past—makes hopeless attempts to hold their family of five together. But news of the scandal makes its way from America to the rest of the Solomon clan on the kibbutz in the Jordan River Valley. There we encounter various members of the family and the community—from Marc’s self-absorbed movie actress sister, Shira, and her forgotten son Joseph; to his rich and powerful construction magnate father, Yakov; to his former star-crossed love, Maya; and his brother-in-law Guy Gever, a local ranger turned “artist.” As the secrets and rumors of the kibbutz are revealed through various memories and tales, we witness the things that keep the Solomons together, and those that tear them apart.

Reminiscent of Nathan Englander’s For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and told with razor-sharp humor and elegant acuity, What to Do About the Solomons is an exhilarating first book from a bright new star in fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 09 Dec 2016 08:45:08 -0500)

"From a remarkable new voice in fiction, Bethany Ball, comes a transporting debut; a hilarious multigenerational family saga set in Israel, New York, and Los Angeles that explores the secrets and gossip-filled lives of a kibbutz community near Jerusalem. Meet Marc Solomon, an Israeli ex-Navy commando now living in L.A., who is falsely accused of money laundering through his asset management firm. As the Solomons' Santa Monica home is raided, Marc's American wife, Carolyn -- concealing her own dark past -- makes hopeless attempts to hold their family of five together. But news of the scandal makes its way from America to the rest of the Solomon clan on the kibbutz in the Jordan River Valley. There we encounter various members of the family and the community -- from Marc's self-absorbed movie actress sister, Shira, and her forgotten son Joseph; to his rich and powerful construction magnate father, Yakov; to his former star-crossed love, Maya; and his brother-in-law Guy Gever, a local ranger turned "artist." As the secrets and rumors of the kibbutz are revealed through various memories and tales, we witness the things that keep the Solomons together, and those that tear them apart. Reminiscent of Nathan Englander's For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, and told with razor-sharp humor and elegant acuity, What to Do About the Solomons is an exhilarating first book from a bright new star in fiction"--… (more)

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