If I hadn’t read Naomi Ragen’s Chains Around the Grass, the title “The Saturday Wife” would have been a turn-off enough to make me pass on this book. Who wants to read about another wife/woman/girl story, which sounds like all about how to win her husband or any other man (men)? Not me! But because I was already convinced of Ragen’s magic as a writer, I had to pick it up. And I am glad I did.
The Saturday Wife (St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2008) is a character-driven story of a young Jewish woman who tries to find an ideal place in her community through good marriage and thus becomes a rabbi’s wife. However, her worldliness starts failing her position in the orthodox Jewish environs and build up to become a disaster for herself and her husband. In Delilah Glodgrab, and later Delilah Levi, Naomi Ragen has created a character that reflects the socio-cultural vibrations of orthodox Jewish faith afloat in the sea of contemporary urban society in the developed west.
The story proceeds amusingly as Ragen maintains the fun side of Delilah’s journey through life. It doesn’t get dark and gloomy despite every opportunity for Delilah to turn it that way. In fact, her ability, supplemented by chance, to wiggle out of trouble itself becomes an amusement for readers.
The ending perhaps is a bit anticlimactic and far from cathartic. In character-driven stories, the ending is supposed to come from within the character with spontaneity and sums up the character’s development. That doesn’t happen in The Saturday Wife and readers may feel kind of lost or abandoned at the end. Nevertheless, it’s a story that has a moral side, engaging narration, interesting characters, and some good faith/cultural knowledge for non-Jewish readers.
Reposted from Word Matters!