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Reuben Sachs

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  115 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Oscar Wilde wrote of this novel, "Its directness, its uncompromising truths, its depth of feeling, and above all, its absence of any single superfluous word, make Reuben Sachs, in some sort, a classic." Reuben Sachs, the story of an extended Anglo-Jewish family in London, focuses on the relationship between two cousins, Reuben Sachs and Judith Quixano, and the tensions be ...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Broadview Press (first published 1888)
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This is a beautifully crafted little novel. The language is faultless, pared down to only that which is needed, yet at the same time painting an unforgetable picture of Anglo-Jewish life at the end of the 19th century. The story is that of Reuben Sachs abnd his cousin Judith Quixano. Much is expected of young Reuben, and Judith is a poor relation, and a romance between them would be unthinkable in the gossipy, snobbish community they live in. In terms of plot it might be fair to say that not muc ...more
Gillian Kevern
I love Jane Austen. The comparison of Amy Levy to Austen featured in Persephone's description of the book is what prompted me to pick up Reuben Sachs. I think the comparison is apt, but gave me entirely the wrong impression. I expected something light and sparkling, cutting but fond in the way of Austen's romances. It quickly becomes apparent that there is no happy ending possible to Reuben Sachs, and I left the novel unread and disappointed.

When I picked it up tonight, I knew what I was gettin
This novel was almost as interesting for its author as for its subject matter. Amy Levy is surprisingly little-known: a highly-educated British Jew, who attended Cambridge in the 1880s, travelled widely and published poetry and fiction before her early death by suicide at the young age of 27. Reuben Sachs (1888) is her most famous work and though slight of plot it packs into its 150 pages a kaleidoscope of Jewish characters, their different characteristics described with great skill. From the ol ...more
My first Persephone!

Reuben Sachs sounded incredibly promising when I came across it in Skoob, my absolute favourite second hand book store in London. The blurb describes it as a 'feminist plea' and 'praised by Oscar Wilde'. Well, I just had to pick that up. However, upon finishing the novel, I can't help but feel a little underwhelmed.

Unfortunately, the first two thirds of the story was rather dull. We follow Reuben himself and Judith Quixano, two young Jews in London. Although it seems that Amy
Reuben Sachs is the second Persephone Books work to be featured on my website and I was very excited to get my hands on it. Social satire written by a young Victorian woman? Yes please! Oscar Wilde himself had nothing but praise for the book:

Its directness, its uncompromising truths, its depth of feeling, and, above all, its absence of any single superfluous word, make it, in some sort, a classic. Like all [Levy’s] best work it is sad, but the sadness is by no means morbid. The strong undertone
Few imprints deliver books of such consistent quality as Persephone. At first I found this novella heavy-going, because of tirades against the way Jews look and behave on almost every page. Apparently the author was very ambivalent towards her own background, which may account partly for her suicide when she was 27 years old. But the story does gather momentum, and builds towards a thoroughly satisfying finale. In the end I found it not only a curio but a genuine if slight achievement. The topic ...more
Elizabeth Wix
Rather slow at the beginning and unfortunate that Amy Levy has been called "the Jewish Jane Austen". Her character descriptions are not in the least Austenesque
but the book is utterly readable and we do feel for the characters.
A bit too much discussion of'the race of Shem' for modern taste but this book is very much of its period and definitely worth reading.
Jane Metter
A fascinating and controversial view of 19th Century Anglo Jewry -
Melissa Kunz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leaves you wondering what more Amy Levy might have achieved had she not committed suicide in 1889, in her late 20s. After reading this novel, Oscar Wilde described Levy as 'a girl of genius', and in many ways she was a precursor of modernism. She admired Jane Austen and that influence is clear in the plot and her ironic style. However her darker vision also encompassed a critique of capitalism and a feminist perspective.
Mills College Library
Fiction L6682r 2006
Paul Taylor
A Jewish Thomas Hardy. Starcrossed lovers who take choices that suit their circumstances and peer group rather than following their heart. The choices they take prove fatal, both literally and metaphorically. That the novel was said to be anti-Semitic and panned by critics probably contributed to the depression that lead to the tragic suicide of the author.
This is the sort of book that I would never have picked up had I not been required to read it for class. It's dry, tedious, uneventful . . . really not a pleasure to read. There's a cleverness to Levy's writing, true. And the illustration of Anglo-Jewish life was interesting. Nevertheless, it was difficult to get through, and I will likely never pick it up again.
Mar 08, 2015 Lizzie marked it as to-read-off-my-shelf  ·  review of another edition
Having a little public-domain e-book downloading spree.
Another book seemingly inspired by Daniel Deronda, but a good one.
Betsie Bush
I really didn't expect the ending... the book isn't really about the title character at all.
Interesting glimpse into Jewish life in Victorian London. (Listened to Librivox.)
Emer marked it as to-read
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  • Consequences
  • Tea with Mr. Rochester
  • Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary
  • Greenery Street
  • William - An Englishman
  • The Hopkins Manuscript
  • The Blank Wall
  • Saplings
  • The Wise Virgins
  • The Crowded Street
  • Fidelity
  • The Priory
  • The Victorian Chaise Longue
  • The Far Cry
  • Kitchen Essays
  • Family Roundabout
  • Few Eggs and No Oranges: The Diaries of Vere Hodgson 1940-45
  • The Shuttle
Levy was born in Clapham, London, the second daughter of Lewis Levy and Isobel Levin. Her Jewish family was mildly observant, but as an adult Levy no longer practised Judaism; she continued to identify with the Jews as a people.

She was educated at Brighton High School, Brighton, and studied at Newnham College, Cambridge; she was the first Jewish student at Newnham, when she arrived in 1879, but le
More about Amy Levy...
The Romance of a Shop A Minor Poet and Other Verse A London Plane-Tree and Other Verse, and Xantippe and Other Verse (Dodo Press) Xantippe and Other Verse Miss Meredith

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