Nancy McKibben's Reviews > The Lawgiver

The Lawgiver by Herman Wouk
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really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed
Recommended to Nancy by: NPR interview with author
Recommended for: any reader who enjoys a deft writer

The Lawgiver by Herman Wouk

I read and loved Majorie Morningstar years ago - so many years ago that I was startled to hear its author, Herman Wouk, recently interviewed on NPR, as I had assumed that he must have long since died. He is indeed 97, but as evidenced in the interview about his most recent novel, he is still very much on top of his game.

That novel is The Lawgiver, which proceeds from the abiding enigma of Wouk’s life - the desire and the inability to write a novel about the life of Moses. To wit, the author becomes a character in his own novel, playing himself - a noted author working with limited success on a book about Moses. The fictional Wouk is being hounded by an engaging array of producers, directors, financiers, and the odd Australian billionaire Leo Gluck, who will has said that he will finance a film about Moses provided that Wouk, whose work he admires, acts as a consultant. Wouk resists, then capitulates on his own terms, while the other characters gossip, scheme, reconcile and fall in love around him.

Wouk is no slouch. The Lawgiver is an epistolary novel that includes, as the flyleaf notes, “letters, memos, e-mails, journals, news articles, recorded talk, Skype transcripts, and text messages.” He treats heavy themes - tradition, religion, love, rebellion, greed - with the lightest of touches. Indeed, the most melancholy note of the novel is the death of Wouk’s wife Betty Sarah, also his wife and lifelong muse in the novel, who passed away suddenly from a stroke during the writing. Wouk salutes her tenderly in the epilogue.

But despite his age and recent bereavement, Wouk appears from the sprightly author’s photo that graces the novel to have had a wonderful time imagining his characters, concocting his plot, and writing his book. I certainly had a wonderful time reading it.
Marjorie Morningstar
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Reading Progress

November 25, 2012 – Started Reading
November 25, 2012 – Finished Reading
November 26, 2012 – Shelved
January 4, 2013 – Shelved as: reviewed

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