To Know A Woman
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To Know A Woman

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  681 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Yoel Ravid devoted many years to the Israeli secret service, his uncanny instinct and ability to sense the truth making him an invaluable agent. Now widowed and retired, Yoel lives in a house in a Tel Aviv suburb with his mother, his mother-in-law, his daughter, and the haunting memory of his wife. Selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Translated by Nichol...more
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published March 7th 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1989)
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Sally Boots
To Know a Woman: After the sudden death of his wife, Yoel moves slowly through the world in a disoriented fog. He obsessively microanalyses the details and events in his life and tries to make sense of the women who surround him. This book is exquisitely written. It's a great choice if you’re in the mood for beautiful, meditative descriptions and gentle plot development. The conversations between Yoel and his kvetchy mother and mother-in-law (both of whom have moved in with him) cracked me up. I...more
Telling the story of a retired Mossad agent coming to terms with the sacrifices he made for his career and his family in the wake of his wife's death, it is a challenging book of startling clarity.

Its primary theme, as the title suggests, is knowledge. The protagonist, as a spy, has spent his life wrapped up in a quest for certain kinds of knowledge. He is an expert at evaluating the value of a piece of knowledge. And again and again, when he receives a new piece, the book repeats the same line...more
Какво се случва с живота ти, след като изгубиш скъп човек; как да събереш частиците отново; как да бъдеши сигурен, че не си виновен или отговорен - въпроси, от чиито отговори толкова много се нуждая в момента. Но Амос Оз не ги поднася, той ни дава пример, а всички изводи - логични или не, следва сами да направим.
Не за първи път се сблъсквам с изключителната му убедителност, когато описва изстинали в емоциите си семейства. Неговите персонажи не приличат на никои други, които съм срещала - те са м...more
I expected much more from this book. I don't think it has much to do with knowing a woman. its more like the life of a man after his wife's death.

the writing was good.
Într-un interviu din 2004 acordat Antoanetei Ralian, Amos Oz susținea că „singurătatea e o opţiune şi nu un destin” (România literară nr. 39/ 2004). Oricum ar fi, singurătatea este o stare problematică, un timp al reevaluării, al reconsiderărilor. Personajele lui Amos Oz sunt supuse (sau – altfel spus – se supun) deseori acestui test, din care cauză prozele acestuia propun mai degrabă povești retrospective, trecute prin filtrul sufletesc al personajelor. Nu altfel stau lucrurile și în romanul di...more
Elizabeth  Fuller
Overall, I thought this book was pretty dull. It belongs to a small sub-genre of books that our book club seems to hit on occasionally, which I would call "books about morose (often Jewish) middle age (or older) men trying to make sense of their lives." Others in the book club seem to like them, but I rarely maybe it's just me. I find the characters mostly unlikeable, the overall mood very blah and the stories pretty plot-less, and this one was no exception. (Others books I'd put in...more
I liked the style,especially some of the descriptions but the story lacked imagination and was politically overloaded. The ending was quite naive and simple- the main character went to work as a volunteer in a hospital,to "redeem" his "sins".Anyway,I would give this writer a second chance.I would like to try "A Tale of Love and Darkness". Let`s hope he has been more sincere in its writing.
Thomas Wilder
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Wechsler
For the first half, I thought it was a truly great novel. But the second half did not live up to the first. One problem was Oz’s use of repetition. I love repetition when it provides either a rhythm to the work or it makes the content of what is repeated more resonant as the novel progresses (or both, if possible, as in the works of Vladimír Páral). The problem with Oz’s repetition is that it didn’t do either, at least not for me.

Two, it’s very hard to sustain a story about someone who has retir...more
When I read the summary of this book I thought it was going to be a certain type of book: emotionally detached man estranged from wife, absent with daughter, mid-life crisis drives him to drinking/affairs/crisis, etc...blah blah blah. But the books is so much more than that and so absolutely mesmerizing.

The writing is fantastic.
Lauren Albert
Ravid, retired early from the Israeli secret service, has developed a remarkable ability to tell truth from lie. Yet he doesn't seem to understand the people around him or for that matter himself. Compulsively analytic, feelings are a more difficult puzzle for him.

This novel is about difficulties and confusions of relationships, the making of a person, in which there are no guarantees.
Cynthia Maltbie
He's certainly not Virginia Woolf, but I did find it mezmerizing, and it made me want to reread Mrs Dalloway.
Unable to feel man with a possibly dark past found his katharsis in helping to helpless. I loved this book. I loved the way Oz unfolds Yoel's struggling to find his place in a new ( for him) world. Emotionless and unpowered by his almost insane tendency to hyperanalyze details from his past, living as a somnabulic, he confuses the reader with his unpredictable sometimes behavior yet in the same time amazes with his slow recovery. The title of the book is not completely understandable to me.
like most oz novels, i began it saying 'this is not as good as the last i read, not as compelling.' yet, the last third made this book well worth reading for all the reasons that i like oz. the main character's search for meaning in life absolutely captivated me. my favorite jewel of text:
And so Yoel Ravid began to give in. Since he was capable of observing, he grew fond of observing in silence. With tired but open eyes. Into the depth of the darkness. And if it was necessary to focus the gaze a...more
Jay Daze
Yoel is a shadowy governmental arms dealer (a spy?) at the beginning of the novel when his wife dies, electrocuted by accident in the arms of a neighbour. Was it an accident? Were his wife and the neighbour lovers, or did he just come upon the scene and get zapped himself? Yoel's powers of observation are so finely tuned, so sensitive to every nuance but the harder he looks the more everything falls apart. Yet at the same time Oz has created a character blind to everything important in his life,...more
Sarà che non conosco l'autore e che si tratta del primo libro, di questo, che leggo ma confesso non ho ben capito dove voglia andare a parare.
Non posso dire né che mi è dispiaciuto né tantomeno di averlo apprezzato.
Il linguaggio un pò mi ha ricordato qualcosa di Joyce (il monologo interiore di Ms Bloom, mi pare), questo dettagliare minuziosamente il quotidiano, alternandolo alle associazioni di idee.
Forse sono un simbolo gli occhiali, la cui montatura ogni volta descritta diventa forse la metafo...more
This is a story about a thoroughly rational but rather unemotional middle-aged man who struggles to find time for his family on account of his work but is forced to pause his life when his wife dies in an accident at home. He finds himself living with his aloof daughter and doting, kvetching mother and mother-in-law all of whom would rather see him go back to work. Yet, they blame his long absences in the past for everything that had gone wrong.

Like always, Amos writes beautifully, almost perfec...more
Marina Sofia
Perhaps not my favourite book by Oz, but he still is such a good writer. He takes this story of loss and grieving, and turns it into a universal tale of love, reassessment of one's life, trying to truly understand another person, moving on. He piles on detail after detail (about Yoel's daily routines, his gardening, his cooking, his thoughts, his travels) and each adds a layer, mostly by what is left unsaid. This one is not as political as some of his other books, but there is that discomfort ab...more
The bleak protagonist of this novel is a 23-year veteran of the Israeli secret service, who has retired from the agency after his wife's sudden death in a freak accident while he was in Helsinki on a mission. In his newly rented house in a Tel Aviv suburb, he surrounds himself with women: his mother, his mother-in-law, and his 16-year-old daughter. "A free man in almost every sense of the word" (the irony is patent). It is a claustrophic, somewhat depressing book, but a very interesting insight...more
Primo incontro con Amos Oz.
E devo dire che non è stato un incontro facile.
Sono pagine lente, intrise di dolore e di angoscia (per la perdita, l'incomunicabilità).
Tutto il libro è una delicata esplorazione dell'animo umano, delle sue inclinazioni e incrinazioni a seguito di emozioni e sensazioni turbinanti.
Una lettura molto intima.
Cercherò altri libri di questo autore!
Lo strano di Oz è che lo amo, e mentre lo leggo mi calo completamente nel suo stile, nei suoi studi di caratteri e nelle sue ambientazioni. Però dopo mi restano, delle vicende e dei nomi, ricordi confusissimi, come se fossero, almeno per me, del tutto irrilevanti in confronto all'atmosfera e alle suggestioni dell'insieme.
Reminiscent of iris Murdoch, whom I also didn't like. The sexual encounters are bizarre and surreal, but Yoel is bizarre as well. It's not clear whether a life of spying has left him half human, or whether you have to be half human to be a successful spy. At the end I didn't really care.
Questo è il mio terzo libro di OZ. Non è mai facile avanzare nella lettura quando si vive la "fredda-angoscia" del protagonista. La separazione dalla persona amata non è mai semplice, gratuita, e soprattutto la si pesa solo in quel momento. Solo lì si facciamo i conti con noi stessi.

Da leggere.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I liked the central character and found the book quite interesting. I like that fact that Oz leaves a lot assumed and unsaid regarding internal motives.
Marco Cerbo
Vedovo lascia il lavoro e si trasferisce con figlia, madre e suocera. Affascinante romanzo di sensazioni.
cleverly written, yet lacking unexpected twists. in places overepetitive and tedious.
I love it. there's a way of feeling like a man that I share
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Amos Oz (עמוס עוז) is an Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist. He is also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva. Since 1967, he has been a prominent advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2008 he received an Honorary Degree from the University of Antwerp. He also received the Dan David prize in 2008 for "Creative Rendering of the Pa...more
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“In a short story by Chekhov or a novel by Balzac he found mysteries which, so far as he was aware, did not exist in any spy thriller. 35” 4 likes
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