Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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An unsentimental, iconoclastic coming-of-age story of both a countryDIsraelDand a young immigrant, Grant's first novel introduces an unusually appealing heroine, narrator Evelyn Sert, and provides an unforgettable glimpse of a time and place rarely observed from an unsparing point of view. Nave and idealistic, 20-year-old Evelyn, an incipient Zionist, leaves London for Palestine in April 1946 under false pretenses. Devoid of useful skills, she barely survives a stint on a kibbutz. Later, in Tel Aviv, she gets a job in a hairdressing salon, passing herself off as Priscilla Jones, the wife of a British soldier. To her neighbors she acknowledges that she's a Jew, but she's puzzled that she has more in common with the British colonials than with the motley collection of Jews from many lands and widely disparate religious, social and economic backgrounds, all of them busy reinventing themselves. After falling in love with a chameleon-like man she knows as Johnny, who impersonates a British army officer, she's not really surprised to find that he's a terrorist with the Irgun underground, working cold-bloodedly to end the British Mandate. Unwittingly, Evelyn gives Johnny information that results in violence. The quiet force of this astonishingly mature novel comes in watching Evelyn's simplistic worldview gradually give way to disillusionment as she becomes aware of the moral ambiguities and paradoxes on all sides. Readers will be struck by the timeliness of Grant's narrative, for she captures the excitement and danger of a volatile society and the desperate measures of a homeless people convinced that they must create a state. The implications of this cautionary tale keep unfolding even after the bittersweet denouement. It's no wonder that this novel won the 2000 Orange Prize, beating out Zadie Smith's White Teeth. (Feb.) Forecast: The stark facts revealed in Tom Segev's One Palestine, Complete (Nonfiction Forecasts, Oct. 23) acquire a human face and a compelling voice in this fictional evocation of the period. The novel's relevance to current events provides a natural handle for booksellers, and Hollywood may see the potential in a story whose ramifications are reflected in today's headlines. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Evelyn Sert, 20 and Jewish, arrives in Palestine looking for the home she's never had. The granddaughter of Latvian immigrants, she always felt like an outsider in London. When her mother dies, there is nothing to keep her in England, so, at the urging of her "uncle" (her late mother's married lover), she changes her name to Eve and travels to Palestine, tricking British officials to gain entry, then joining a kibbutz because she has nowhere else to stay. Passionate and longing for something she can't name, Eve eventually leaves the kibbutz, accepts a ride from a stranger named Johnny, and finds an apartment in Tel Aviv. Grant's prose is simple and moving, clearly expressing the intensity of a young girl's quest for herself, and of a young nation seeking to establish its boundaries. Eve's travels parallel her spiritual journey, and nearly everyone she meets is also searching, including concentration camp survivors, Russian Jews trying to build their own utopia, European Jews in exile, and those who've come to Palestine simply because they never felt comfortable anywhere else. --Bonnie Johnston


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Winner of Britain's Orange Prize, which honors exceptional works by women, this novel follows 20-year-old Eve to Palestine after World War II. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Displacement and identity, both of an individual and of a nation, are the themes of this novel by Linda Grant (Sexing the Millennium, LJ 4/1/94). The novel opens with a piece of evidence given before the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (July 8, 1947) by Chaim Weizmann: "If you ask what a Jew is, well, he is a man who has to offer a long explanation for his existence." The birth of the nation of Israel is the backdrop to the story of Evelyn Sert, a young English Jewish woman who is left rootless after the end of World War II and the death of her mother. On the advice of her mother's friend, she makes her way to Palestine, entering as a Christian tourist, and begins her new life working on a kibbutz. Evelyn's identity is protean, changing according to circumstance, and her growing awareness of the confusion and sense of displacement among the Jewish migrs, British Army of Occupation soldiers and their families, Arab settlers, and Zionists in Tel Aviv is mirrored in her own changes in name and appearance. The sounds, smells, and tastes of wartime London, desert kibbutzim, and urban Tel Aviv are evocatively described, and Evelyn's story is compelling. Winner of the Orange Prize for fiction in 2000; highly recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/00.] Kerie Nickel, St. Mary's Coll. of Maryland, St. Mary's City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.