The Romance Reader (Paperback)
Riverhead Books, 9781573225489, 304pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 1996
Rachel Benjamin is the daughter of a quixotic rabbi who dreams of building a synagogue in the secluded upstate New York bungalow colony where his family now lives. As the rabbi's eldest daughter, Rachel is expected to set an example for her five siblings and for the other girls in the community: she must wear thick opaque tights with seams; she is forbidden to wear a bathing suit in public; and she can never read books in English. But like all young adults, Rachel bristles at the stringent rules set by her family and her religion, rebelling in ways that become increasingly apparent. Whether sneaking sheer nylons in and out of the house or applying for an illicit library card that will allow her access to the romance novels that she loves, Rachel is determined to do things her way. Dreaming of a life that mirrors that of the heroines in her favorite novels, Rachel craves the independence she will never have as a Hasidic woman in an arranged marriage. And yet, as her impending marriage draws inevitably nearer, the pulls of family and faith weigh against the frightening and unknown world beyond her own.
This coming-of-age tale is both unusual and familiaran intriguing, heartfelt look at the power of family and religion in the Hasidic community and the universal desire to leave the nest.
About the Author
Praise For The Romance Reader…
Anne Roiphe, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Wonderful . . . sheds light on two intriguing mysteries: life within an ultra-Orthodox Jewish communiy and the bittersweet passage through female adolescence."
Hilma Wolitzer, Newsday
"An assured, smoothly written book, narrated in a muted voice that seems to whisper secrets into the reader's ear."
The New York Times Book Reveiw
"Compelling throughout . . . we don't want to leave Rachel without knowing everything that happens to her for the rest of her life."
San Francisco Chronicle