Kristine's Reviews > The Ladies Auxiliary

The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis
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's review
Oct 27, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: book-club, religion-and-or-lds, modern-lit, i-own, favorites
Recommended to Kristine by: Brandy Sims
Recommended for: all lds women

** spoiler alert ** I read this book my friend Brandy recommended back in Iowa. I think it speaks much more to those who belong to a small, tight-knit religious community: like the Jews in the book or (like me and my friends) the LDS community.

I think I learned a lot from the book -- it really makes you think about what true worship is and the meaning behind all out traditions and rituals. It makes you think about how we treat one another and how silly we are when we all put on fronts that life is perfect and we're perfect and everything's perfect -- whereas if we used each other as a sisterhood to help and support and open up to, life would be better. I also learned about tolerance and love and family life and neighborliness :-)


just finished the second read -- the main reason I like the book is that it causes me to reflect . . . to evaluate myself. After reading it again I am actually very disappointed in the ending. I feel the main character, Batsheva, never truly evaluated herself and apologized for her mistakes, yet they tied up the end with a little bow on how great she still is. I think that no matter where you are religiously you're on track if you CAN evaluate yourself and make course corrections, but it never felt like she did (to me).
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Reading Progress

October 27, 2007 – Shelved
March 11, 2009 – Shelved as: book-club
March 11, 2009 – Shelved as: religion-and-or-lds
March 11, 2009 – Shelved as: modern-lit
Started Reading
April 15, 2009 – Finished Reading
March 10, 2011 – Shelved as: i-own
January 7, 2015 – Shelved as: favorites

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Dawn I liked this book, too. You might also enjoy her second book called The Outside World. It's not a sequel. It's about a young jewish couple in New York and their marriage. They do move to Memphis, but the place is mostly incidental. I liked all I learned about different "degrees" of Judaism--fascinating. Most of all I liked seeing the main characters grow as people and seeing their relationship grow as they worked towards defining themselves outside of the families they grew up in.

Kristine Dawn, I'm not sure if it's your cup of tea -- but a book that REALLY opened my eyes to the Jewish faith is "From Beirut to Jerusalem" by friedman. SO interesting! It is nonfiction about his life as he lived in those places as an AP reporter. The parts about Israel and the "four types of Jews" you find there is VERY interesting. In fact I think I'd like to read it again.

Dawn Thanks for the recommendation. I've heard high praise for Friedman as an author. Non-fiction is slower for me, but I do read it occasionally. I'll have to add it to my list! Right now I'm working on reading The Scarlet Letter for book club. I like reading a classic once in a while and they are usually more effort, but rewarding. It's good, but not happy and dense, so a slower read, as well.

Dawn Hmmm. I just read your addition to review after reading the book a second time. I liked the book, but I can see your point about the ending. My question is what things do you think she did wrong?

Annette I too would like to know what you thought Batsheva needed to apologize for. The only thing that I could think of was that she let the party get out of hand and she probably shoudn't have allowed the boys to join in. I do think that she did evaluate herself though, in fact she seemed to be about the only one who did, the other ladies were just doing what they'd always done. I also think that some of the ladies, (Mrs. Levy and Ziporah mostly) owe her an apology for the rumors that they had spread about her.

Annette After thinking about this for awhile I can see a couple of other situations where she probably could've handled things a little better, but I think that the real problem was a lack of communication. Batsheva was new to Judaism so, of course she's going to make mistakes. She needed the other more experienced ladies to help her to recognize her mistakes, but whenever she did something wrong instead of going to her and talking to her about it they called their friends and talked about her behind her back.

Kristine well, mostly I think I'm focusing on her being a horrible chaperon on the girls' trip and her having the party get out of hand. Specifically at the party she was too concerned about being cool and being their friend and doing what's best for them (I'm thinking of the reference of people making out on the couches, alcohol, etc.). Also whether or not her relationship with the rabbi's son was ever inappropriate she was playing with fire, and I think in that instance she deserved what she got. Even if you grow up without boundaries, you know that other people do have ideas of what is appropriate and proper social boundaries. I don't think that being new to Judaism was the problem with those things I mentioned above.

After the school trip she should have immediately apologized to the mothers about how she allowed it to get out of hand (by letter if necessary). Instead she kept on trying to tell the moms they needed to listen to their kids (they did) but I think there's a beam/mote scripture that would apply there :-). She never came out and said, "I was wrong to do _____________". Just her saying that one thing would have sealed the deal for me. It was pretty much just everybody is mean and picking on me, etc. (yes, many of them were mean, heartless gossips).

Annette I haven't had the opportunity to discuss this with a group and I really enjoy getting other people's opinions on characters and themes in a book. Kristine, you've had the opportunity to discuss this book at a club meeting haven't you? I'm curious as to what other people had to say about the book. I can see how this book could lead to a lively discussion.

Another thing that I thought of was how some of the ladies seemed to only see Batsheva's faults while Mimi seemed to be the opposite and saw only the good in her. Which is really too bad, I think that Mimi could've really helped Batsheva if she had tried to be more of a mother figure for her because I think that Batsheva would've listened to her if she had tried to give her more guidance.

Dawn That's an interesting perspective which I hadn't considered before, Annette. I think you are right that Mimi could have provided kind guidance for Batsheva. I don't really want to say that the author should have changed the story, because she chose certain themes and messages around which to center her story. But it is interesting to think about more possibilities if it were a real life situation

Annette I agree! I don't think that the author should change the story either, I love it the way it is! One of the things that I like about it is that she makes the characters so real, complete with flaws and also strengths. At first Mimi seemed too perfect and I thought that, that was unrealistic, but after I thought about it I realized that she had faults too and that made me like her even more because it made her more human. She reminded me of a Stake President's wife, the way everyone looked up to her.
What was your perspective on the characters? Did they seem real to you?

Kristine I loved the characters. I thought it was amazing how at a different point in the book you could probably relate to EVERY character in one way or another. IF you looked every character had strengths and weaknesses, including the men.

I agree with how the author chose certain themes and stuck to them. Many of them opposites -- parenting styles, letter/word of the law, too conservative/too liberal, etc. the contrasts made the themes stronger. i'm one to look into the gray areas, but if she would have tried that i think it would have been a weaker book. the way she wrote the book i can still ponder and argue about the gray areas without her hitting me over the head with them.

Kristine ps i like your comment about mimi. i agree, i would have liked to see that.

Teresa GREAT review, very thoughtfully done. i agree about wanting to see Batsheva go through a repentance process too, even just a small one. but i enjoyed the overall lesson of everyone needing to take a bit more responsibility for their own actions and decisions, and not being afraid to be a bit imperfect.

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