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3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  1,087 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
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A small, close-knit Orthodox Jewish community in London is the setting for a revealing look at religion and sexuality in Alderman's frank yet heartfelt debut novel, Disobedience. The story begins with the death of the community's esteemed rabbi, which sets in motion plans for a memorial service and the search for a replacement.
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Touchstone Books (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,090)
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Stanley Bloom
Mar 12, 2011 Stanley Bloom rated it did not like it
Until not so many decades ago they hardly existed, yet the literary world went merrily round without them. Now they abound. Universities have them, adult education organisations have them, country retreats have them, seaside resorts have them, private individuals organise their own – ‘creative writing’ courses.

In my view, the most they can achieve is to produce a few competent writers from among the multitudes who pass through. But invariably missing is the magic, the sparkle, the extra somethin
Mar 29, 2013 Kathe rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2011 Sibyl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was actually the second time I read this book.

I still love it. The book alternates the perspective of Esti, a not-altogether-happily-married observant Jewish woman, with that of Ronit her childhood friend. The women are reunited when Ronit returns to Hendon after the death of her father, a much esteemed Rabbi. The two viewpoints shed light on what is good - and what is a little less good - about life in a tightly-knit Orthodox community.

Each chapter begins with a discourse on aspects of Jew
Mar 04, 2013 Alan rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alan by: Sibyl
Shelves: novels, 2013
review coming..
I think I'm revising this star rating down to 3.5 in retrospect because I feel the novel has washed away (from my mind) a bit, and it sort of petered out at the end. However it's a very enjoyable read, a dissection of the fundamentalist Jewish community in Hendon, and has its moving moments. Not sure what the Jewish community in Hendon make of it. The religious leaders (and much of the community) are shown as stuck in a world where women should be seen and little heard and not eve
Jan 27, 2016 Elaine rated it really liked it
I was given this book by a friend as a brthday present. I think it may not have come to my notice if she hadn't and so I am grateful. It is a very thoughtful book about two young girls who had been brought up in an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in London. After a gay relationship as teenagers they had gone their separate ways and taken very different directions in their life. The death of her father brings Ronit, the daughter of the synagogue 's leader, back to London from her new life in New Y ...more
Nov 05, 2015 Alla rated it it was ok
This book was a disappointment. First of all the book description is misleading. The book is about two Jewish Orthodox gay women who make different choices. One chooses to stay in the Orthodox community and the other leaves. The description says nothing about homosexuality of the characters being so central to the narrative. I think the omission is deliberate as it enables the publisher to market this book to a general Jewish audience.
Most chapters consist of three parts:
1. Wisdom from Jewish
Anna Elliott
Oct 02, 2014 Anna Elliott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book very much. Set within an Orthodox Jewish community this book is in turns very serious and laugh out loud funny.

Read my full review at: http://leftontheshelfbookblog.blogspo...
Jan 21, 2013 Judy rated it liked it
A very thoughtful reflection on life within a small tight-knit religious community on those who are believers and a an individual who turned her back on the congregation and moved to the United States. Ronit Krushka was raised in the Oxthodox enclave of Hendon, England. As she describes it, unlike the active Jewish community in the United States, Jews in Britain "must remain more quiet than non-Jews and women more silent than men". When Ronit learns that her father, the congregation's Rabbi, has ...more
Aug 13, 2016 Bettie☯ rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners

Description: By the age of 32, Ronit has left London and transformed her life. She has become a cigarette-smoking, wise-cracking, New York career woman, who is in love with a married man.But when Ronit's father dies she is called back into the very different world of her childhood, a world she thought she had left far behind. The orthodox Jewish suburb of Hendon, north London is outraged by Ronit and her provocative ways. But Ronit is shocked too by the co
Julie lit pour les autres
Lu en français: Désobéissance

Un roman qui nous plonge dans la vie des Juifs orthodoxes de Londres, à travers le deuil du Rava, à la tête d'une synagogue. Ronit, fille rebelle de ce Rava, qui fait sa vie loin de la vie communautaire et des prescriptions de la religion, revient dans la communauté pour le deuil. Son retour aura l'effet d'une bombe dans la communauté: elle y retrouvera Dovid son cousin, pressenti pour remplacer le chef, et Esti, sa femme, mais aussi l'ex-amante de Ronit. La structur
Karen Wyle
Oct 29, 2014 Karen Wyle rated it really liked it
I'm rounding up (perhaps half a star).

This novel falls well within the "literary fiction" genre. The plot is on the small-scale side and grows from the nature of the characters, who are well delineated and explored. There is something to like and/or admire about all the principals, and the world of an Orthodox (Jewish) British community is presented in compelling detail.

The atmosphere is almost unrelievedly claustrophobic. While the community must have many members who find its lifestyle congeni
May 09, 2014 Johanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do like Naomi Alderman's work. I came to this via R4's bookclub and it didn't disappoint. It is set in an orthodox Jewish community in London and each chapter opens with a reference to the Torah, some of which was familiar to me from the OT and the whole novel is embedded in Orthodox practice so some of the more arcane details & words sent me scurrying to wiki. its is a good book the creation of the sense of claustraphobia that comes from any tight knit community is a universal I think. Th ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
An eminent London rabbi passes away, leading his estranged daughter, who hasn't been home in 15 years, to return and confront her past. Warm-hearted drama read by Sara Kestelman and Tracy-Ann Oberman.
Apr 12, 2016 Avigail rated it liked it
Read for the JBurgh Sifrut Society book club. I actually enjoyed the meditations on talmudic/rabbinic interpretations that began every chapter--particularly the one on happiness being a function of the process of creation and creative struggle. I found the plot to have momentum, and overall the book was an enjoyable read. I rarely feel this way, but I think this book actually would have benefitted from being a bit longer and more dramatic. I recommend it for those interested in Orthodox Judaism, ...more
Maggie Roessler
A fable about the power of words and of silence.

The Rav's first and last words:
"'Speech, he said. 'If the created world were a piece of music, speech would be its refrain, its recurring theme. In the Torah, we read that Hashem created the world through speech...'"

And later, in one of the 13 sermons that begins each chapter:
"The more powerful a force, the more holy a place, the more truth there is in wisdom, the more these things should be private, deep, accessible only to those who have worked
Oct 11, 2008 Faith rated it it was amazing
This is a marvelous debut novel, winner of the Orange Award for New Writers. But it took me some time to warm up to it. I quit reading it on page 9 the first time, and the second time (I'd forgotten I'd already had it from the library) the only reason I continued was that I was at my neighbor's house with only one book, waiting for her cat to come home. I found the opening scene dull, and on page 9 the shift into a first-person narrator wasn't any catchier. In fact, for a long while I found thos ...more
May 12, 2009 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
An enjoyable-to-read book about Jewish life as seen by this author. I found the format very interesting. Each chapter is presented in three voices.

The first "voice" is an introduction from an established Jewish source. For example, chapter 7 begins with a reading from Pirkei Avot, a thought that is, according to the author, "studied on Sabbath afternoons between Passover and New Year.

The second voice is that of unseen narrator, a voice that may explain some point of Jewish custom related to th
Sep 11, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
Ronit goes back to the Orthodox community in suburban London that her father led as Rav. Frustrations abound. She can't find her mother's Shabbat candlesticks, the only memento she really wants of her life there. Esti, the schoolfriend she had a very forbidden affair with, still carries a torch for her. And the rich and bossy Hartog tells Ronit she's such a disgrace, for having left, and is making everyone so uncomfortable, for having returned, that he pays her to not attend her father's memoria ...more
Sep 08, 2013 Devon rated it liked it
Read & Reviewed August 2006

There were many elements to Naomi Alderman's debut novel that I very much enjoyed. Her prose was great, she writes like a veteran whose been doing it for years. I loved how she switched view points throughout the novel so that the reader got a glimpse into the minds of each character. Lastly, I enjoyed how she began each chapter with a thought provoking biblical reference and explanation that was either very relevant to people of all religions or gave the reader in
Kathleen Hagen
Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman, narrated by Roe Kendall, produced by Blackstone Audio, downloaded from

Ronit left London and her orthodox Jewish community and moved to New York, where she lived a life where she didn’t follow the rules, had take-out on Friday nights, and had a group of adventurous friends and also was having an affair with her married boss. Then her cousin, David, calls from London to let her know that her father, a very esteemed and well-known Rabbi, has died. She w
Leora Bersohn
Jan 13, 2011 Leora Bersohn rated it liked it
My Library Journal review:

Financial analyst Ronit Krushka, who lives in New York, identifies as lesbian but is seeing a married man. She is also the estranged daughter of a revered London rabbi. This entertaining first novel begins with the death of Rabbi Krushka and Ronit's reluctant return to the Orthodox Jewish enclave of Hendon. "I don't really mind England so much," she concedes. "But the way Jews are here it just makes me want to kick over tables and shout." Unlike their American counterpa
Oct 28, 2012 Ape rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 22, 2014 Zareen rated it it was amazing
Ronit grows up in an Orthdox Jewish community in Hendon. Her mother dies when she is four. Her best friend at school, Esti, becomes her lover. She isn't accepted by the religious establishment because she dares to be different, and shows spark.

After a stay in New York where she works very successfully as a Financial Analyst, she returns to Hendon when her cousin Dovid informs her that her Father, the Rabbi, has died. Her life unravels but at the end of the novel she emerges as a more fully round
Aug 27, 2015 Yana rated it it was ok
"Disobedience" as a Jewish-world-revealed type of novel. Firstly, I should probably mention that I am not a particular fan of books that tell the stories of religious struggling and religious communities. You see, religion and I, we don't get along very well. However, I will attempt to be as objective as possible when judging Disobedience...
Sep 10, 2007 Kelly rated it liked it
i went from two stars, to two and a half stars to three as i wrote this review. i, like jeni with the japanese books, love books about orthodox judaism. this book didn't disappoint on that front, with the addtional information about jews in britain, and how much of the typical cultural characteristics--reservedness, repression of emotions-- are true of them as well, even though they live so isolated from the rest of the country.

i enjoyed the changing view points, one personal, one more distant,
Lisa Faye
An interesting book about the struggle to be part of a community that struggles to accept you for who you are. The writing was fine, sometimes very beautiful, but generally just an easy read. I learned a lot about Orthodox Judaism - which is relatively new to me, so that was interesting. Not one to go out of your way for, but if you run into it give it a read!
tlev 4242
Jan 25, 2016 tlev 4242 rated it liked it
The concept was interesting, and the way it was presented was good. I liked that each chapter started with a short bit from Jewish theology, and did not find the switch between viewpoints jarring. The story was engaging, and I found it interesting to learn more about a community I`m not familiar with, being a secular Jew who grew up in small town Canada.

The author did a good job exploring the emotions and challenges and difficulties facing all the characters, while continuing to move the story a
Dec 09, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
I could not wait to turn every page of this novel. Really and truly. Naomi Alderman is a young, new author and her writing is sharp and savvy. The author was born into the very structured and xenophobic world of Orthodox Jewry and her novel has what I would guess to be more than a bit of autobiography weaved in. I found so many of her word choices and descriptors to cut me right to my heart. For example: "All things, when measured in spans of years, seem simple. But human lives do not occur in y ...more
Apr 28, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
Disobedience provides an interesting glimpse of life in the Orthodox Jewish community in Hendon, in the United Kingdom. To be honest, I had no idea there even was such a thing in the UK. It would have been easy for the characters to fall into cliches--the rebel who leaves the community for New York, the passive woman who stays and slowly disappears--but the conclusion was more nuanced than that (if slightly improbable.) The characters were well-drawn and interesting, and the author did a great j ...more
May 01, 2015 Ghoti added it
I loved this book for its characters, all recognisable to me as types you meet in any orthodoxy, and for the way Alderman describes the rituals of her childhood in a way that makes them feel like home.

I'm Catholic, not Jewish, and found this book very accessible, and the fond way it describes the community very appealing.
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Naomi Alderman (born 1974 in London) is a British author and novelist.

Alderman was educated at South Hampstead High School and Lincoln College, Oxford where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She then went on to study creative writing at the University of East Anglia before becoming a novelist.
She was the lead writer for Perplex City, an Alternate reality game, at Mind Candy from 2004 th
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