I feel I am a rather harsh reviewer so it has to be good for me to award five stars. A Tale of Love and Darkness is quite wonderful and richly deserves high acclaim.
A bildungsroman... a family saga... a memoir about growing up in the newly formed state of Israel, A Tale of Love and darkness held me from the opening sentence to the last.
A non-jew, I have never understood the relentless persecution of the Jews over the centuries and I have always believed in their right to a homeland.
Oz is an intellectual and free thinker and acknowledges throughout the book the suffering of the Arabs as well as the Israelis. He describes his thoughts as a child from a right wing family when he is obviously influenced by the opinions of the adult world he is surrounded by, to later in life when he joins a kibbutz and discovers his own sense of morality.
Life was harsh and frightening for everyone in those early days of building a new nation from scratch under the hostile, unfriendly eyes of the British
with never-ending threats of attacks from the surrounding Arab nations and none more so than for someone like Oz's mother. A beauty from a privileged background in Eastern Europe, well educated and speaking several languages, she must have felt the weight of being plunged into the struggle in those early days of Israel. Relegated to household chores and mandanity for her entire life, taking a backseat to her scholarly husband and the other male members of their community I can understand to a degree how unhappy she must have been. She loses herself in fanciful tales she relates to her young son and maintains a close friendship with girls from the same school and background in Eastern Europe. Her story touched me deeply.
Overall this is a story of great understanding and compassion, of intelligent observation, and deep thought.
Although it is rather a large book I could have gone on reading. A powerful story told against the backdrop of one of the most enterprising and courageous and yet sad and problematic situations in history, that still makes the headlines on a daily basis.
I encourage you to read this magnificent story of the making of Israel and the people who struggled to make it happen.
- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: Chatto & Windus (6 June 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0701174218
- ISBN-13: 978-0701174217
- Package Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.4 x 4.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 839 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)