Sotah: A Novel

Sotah: A Novel

4.3 18
by Naomi Ragen

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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. HC: Crown.


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. HC: Crown.

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".

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.45(h) x (d)

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Sotah 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Theresa Winston More than 1 year ago
I'm really glad that I chose to read this with my Nook, there were many Hebrew words or phrases that I wouldn't have understood without the ability to highlight and immediatly look up the definition or translation. As a Reform Jew, I now have a greater understanding of and respect for the Ultra Orthodox beliefs. I'm very glad that stories such as this exhist, less ignorance will hopefully lead people to value and really appreciate the diverse world we live in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A truly beautiful, thought provoking, spiritual rare book!
ReaderinColorado More than 1 year ago
This is a fabulous book. Naomi Regan understands that we all have the same questions about God and morals and our relationships with others. I loved every single sentence in this book. I learned a lot and will carry some of her thoughts with me always. If you are Jewish I am sure you would enjoy the book but if you are not Jewish, you will learn to appreciate the mores and conflicts of the religion. This book is for anyone and everyone who has ever wondered about your personal relationship with God. Extremely well written. I am now reading her other books.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, kept me interested all the way to the end. I've read other Naomi Ragen novels, so far this is my favorite. The chapter that rang so true for me was when Dina returns home from NY & calls her sister, when her sister rejects her Dina tells her sister her "true" feelings, loved that part. I also just loved how it ends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Could I ever relate to this one! I'm an Orthodox Jew (albeit not Charedi), and I could relate to the character of Dina in so many ways. I also found some ways to relate to her sisters. I loved the way the plot progressed without getting boring or preachy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
IEB More than 1 year ago
Novel describes how each member of the Reich Family is affected by the regulations imposed and in particular, how arranged marriages cause emotional distress and shame.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lakanooky More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book for a few specific reasons. First I am not Jewish but loved learning about the orthodox Jewish faith which closely resembles any beginnings of a religion. I loved learning the Jewish words which are so expressive. And I mostly loved seeing a shy, obedient, capable woman finally stand up to oppressive situations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this. I recomend it very much. U
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nookinginfl More than 1 year ago
Had me hooked from the second chapter. I read the book in 2 days. Characters were well developed as was the plot. I now understand that sect of the Jewish religion ~ extremely interesting book.
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sukib More than 1 year ago
As a Conservative, somewhat observant Jewish Feminist, the first part of this book both disturbed and offended me. I had to remind myself I am also a social scientist, and if that had been about a different religion, and it wasn't about the treatment of women, I probably would have had a different reaction. It is quite informative about the lives of women in the Meir Sharim area of Israel, and in fact, the black hat community in general. As I continued to read, I was surprised and delighted with the ending. The middle gave a wonderful picture of the life of an immigrant in a foreign matter what their religion or culture is...How misunderstandings are so easy to come by...whether by conscious design or not and how difficult it often is to bridge that divide. I liked the book and the writing and would love to have it discussed with a group of women...It might even been interesting with a mixed gender group, but I have doubt that many men would enjoy reading it. It would be good for a book club, depending on the make up of the group.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a memorable book! You will enjoy the hamishness of the story.