Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > The Wizardry of Jewish Women

The Wizardry of Jewish Women by Gillian Polack
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bookshelves: australian-womens-writers-challenge

‘This book is about shadows. The shadow of the past on our past.’

Meet Rhonda. Meet Judith, and her sister Belinda. And as you gradually become familiar with their lives, their loves, their fears and their pasts, you’ll find yourself wondering what the future holds. For each of them, and for those who matter to them.

While each of these women thinks they want an ordinary, uncomplicated life, it’s never going to be that easy. Why? Well, apart from the fact that the past has its own impact, there are the shoals of relationships to be negotiated. And there is magic as well. Judith and Belinda have a family mystery to explore: just who is this great-grandmother that non-one talks about? Judith’s past includes wonderful children. Can she ever move out from under the shadow cast by family violence? And Rhonda? Free-lance work through an agency may have its benefits, but her manager is not one of them.

In Rhonda, Judith and Belinda, Ms Polack has created three quite different women. Their lives are separate, although they intersect and overlap. For me, Rhonda was the most intriguing character. I found myself, in a quite motherly way, concerned about some of her choices and hoping that things would work out. Judith held my attention as well: her wonderful children Nick and Zöe, her lemon tree, her interest in magic. While I don’t care in the least about pink tutus (and I may or may not believe in magic), there is a certain unicorn that I’d like to meet.

‘It’s very humiliating to be laughed at by a lemon tree.’

I enjoyed this novel, with its gentle reminders of the complexities of life. I was reminded too, and less happily, of the horrors of the Canberra bushfires in 2003 and of the impact of violence on people and communities. Ms Polack has written a novel in which well-developed characters grapple (sometimes successfully) with the kinds of issues many of us are familiar with. Either through our own direct experience, or the experiences of friends and family members.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Reading Progress

September 2, 2016 – Started Reading
September 2, 2016 – Shelved
September 2, 2016 – Shelved as: australian-womens-writers-challenge
September 4, 2016 – Finished Reading

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