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Sotah: A Novel

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"Fragile, exquisite Dina Reich was raised to be an obedient daughter, a dutiful wife. In modern Jerusalem, within the vigilant confines of the ultra-orthodox world of the Haredim, she is bound by the strictest letter of ancient law." At seventeen, Dina enters an arranged marriage to a loving, generous man. But restless yearnings - for knowledge, for romance, for excitement - drive her into a dangerous flirtation. When the insular community learns of her transgression, Dina is subjected to an ordeal. Like the Biblically ordained ritual for the ...
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New York, NY 1992 Hard cover Good in very good dust jacket. Ex-library. jacket in owrn plastic cover, flaps taped; copy has slightly soiled text blocks, cocked spine, library ... markings; text and binding fine Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 457 p. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Overview

"Fragile, exquisite Dina Reich was raised to be an obedient daughter, a dutiful wife. In modern Jerusalem, within the vigilant confines of the ultra-orthodox world of the Haredim, she is bound by the strictest letter of ancient law." At seventeen, Dina enters an arranged marriage to a loving, generous man. But restless yearnings - for knowledge, for romance, for excitement - drive her into a dangerous flirtation. When the insular community learns of her transgression, Dina is subjected to an ordeal. Like the Biblically ordained ritual for the wife suspected of adultery, the Sotah, this will either destroy her or vindicate her completely. Forced into exile in New York, Dina is appalled by the shallowness of American life. Yet it is here that she must fashion her own traditions and find the courage to return to Jerusalem to reclaim her husband, her family and her life. Ninety three weeks on the best seller lists.

The compelling story of a beautiful young woman in Jerusalem's ultra-religious Jewish enclave who is accused of committing the most unforgivable sin: adultery. Before she can even defend herself, she is banished from her husband and child and forced to leave the country. Sent to New York, she must find a way to reconcile faith with freedom.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ragen's second novel (after Jephte's Daughter ) revisits the insular world of ultrareligious Jews, focusing on the Reich family's three daughters and how they fare in the elemental rite of passage--marriage. In the Haredi community (made up of Jews who observe ``the tiniest dictate of law'' and have ``boundless contempt'' for all things secular), a matchmaker handles--and sometimes mishandles--nuptials based on dowry, piety and family ties, and only incidentally on love or compatibility. Harsh as these customs may seem, Ragen's detailed and thoughtful evocations of daily life in such an enclave offer insights into its members' beliefs. The drama centers on the Reichs' devout middle daughter, Dina, who tries to reconcile her desires and dreams within the confines of her narrow world. How she becomes a sotah (a woman suspected of adultery), her banishment from see ing her husband and young child, and the ultimate reconciliation of her strict faith with the meaningful aspects of a secular society form the heart of this very readable, but at times simplistic novel. Ragen is most successful when she tells the story from the vantage point of the haredi world, less so when her characters are secular Jews. A stronger work of fiction than Jephte's Daughter , the narrative holds the reader's attention throughout. (Oct.)
Ilene Cooper
"Sotah" is the Hebrew word for a wife accused of infidelity. In biblical times, a sotah was brought to the temple, where she was forced to drink a potion of water and dust. If the woman was guilty, her stomach would burst, but if she had not defiled herself, she would be set free. Young Dina Reich is a member of Jerusalem's ultraorthodox community, where tradition and observance take precedence over need and desire. Unlike her sister, Dina has barely strained at the restrictions her life imposes. But her mother's death and a failed match with a man she feels she could really love combine to unleash the restless yearnings that have swirled beneath the surface. Although her arranged marriage has brought Dina a kind husband and a child, frustration eventually leads her into a relationship with a married man. When the transgression is discovered by the Moral Patrol, a group of community vigilantes, Dina is forced to leave her home and family and work as a maid in New York. Suddenly faced with the freedom she has longed for, Dina realizes she must decide what kind of life she will have and what traditions she will follow. Ragen uses religion as an interesting backdrop for what is essentially a romance. Characterizations are rich and varied, giving insight into the lives of the ultraorthodox. Only Dina's transformation is not wholly believable, despite the care used to prepare for it. Still, it's hard to put this one down, and readers who liked Ragen's "Jephte's Daughter" (1988) will certainly liked "Sotah".
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517589779
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/22/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 464

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