Anne Goodwin's Reviews > The Marrying of Chani Kaufman

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve   Harris
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Oct 11, 2013

it was ok
bookshelves: debut-novelists

I was drawn to this book by the intriguing premise and the Booker long-listing. The opening scene, with a rare insight into what are to me quite alien customs, was lively and engaging, and I settled down for a good read. Perhaps I was expecting too much of what is, after all, a passable story, but I was disappointed. Just as the novel is structured to circle around the opening event of the wedding, I felt that the writing took me round and round the issues without any real deepening of character, theme or plot.
There were too many point of view characters, as if the author felt compelled to shoehorn in every stereotype or anti-stereotype of ultraorthodox Jewish culture, so that, other than a window on difference, I wasn’t sure what the novel was about. It wasn’t angry enough to be a protest against the constraints of tradition, nor was it sympathetic enough to provide secular readers with a deeper understanding of the religious life. I was left with the uneasy feeling of having my prejudices confirmed that this is a shit life for women and with no more understanding of why anyone might dedicate their life to prayer and ritual.
I might have liked it better had it gone through another edit, tightening up the prose and cutting back on the length. It wasn’t only regarding content that I felt insufficient care had gone into taking this from the novelist's final draft to the finished book, with a number of copyediting errors, such as mispositioned quotation marks which were distracting to the eye.
Nevertheless, Eve Harris is to be congratulated on publishing her novel in this difficult climate and for a brave attempt to shine a light on a little known British culture.
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Reading Progress

October 11, 2013 – Started Reading
October 11, 2013 – Shelved
October 11, 2013 – Shelved as: debut-novelists
October 11, 2013 – Finished Reading

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