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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Book Review

A friend handed me Naomi Ragen's latest, The Saturday Wife, last week, and I figured it would be worth a read - as her other efforts have proven in the past. I was wrong. I am an avid reader, and I read quickly enough that I rarely find a book to be a complete and utter waste of time. This book, however, fits that bill. I finished reading it only because I was so fascinated by how unlikeable and caricatured the characters were and how ridiculously predictable and uncompelling the story line, that it was akin to rubbernecking at a train wreck. The weak ending didn't disappoint either. All in all, highly NOT recommended. Don't let anyone anyone convince you that this book is worth reading, if only because it's set in the Orthodox Jewish world. It isn't worth reading.

I'd have been better off keeping up with my delinquent blogging that reading this book, that much is certain.

65 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had trouble believeing that it was even written by Ragen when I read it. Maybe the plagiarism accusations against her have taken her toll.

8:15 AM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

How do you REALLY feel?

9:28 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

MoChassid said...

How do you REALLY feel?


Lol. I definitely didn't equivocate on this one, did I? I just wanted to ensure that I got my point across.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Her books are filled with plagiarisms forget the accusations, just compare her books to the books she plagiarized from.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This may be the first book she had to write on her own.

11:18 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Please, whoever that friend is, do not let anyone know OrthoMom has your book. Keep her identity secret.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She's always been frightfully predictable. Does everyone find out they are really Jewish and live happily ever after safe in the knowledge that they made all the right choices?

8:48 PM  
Anonymous deemer said...

I know! I hated this book. I found the book that she based this book on, The Sunday Wife, by Cassandra King, a worthy read. I hated this book, and by the time I finished it, I was so angry that I flung it against the wall.

What bothered me most was the fact that Ragen clearly had an agenda, and she would dedicate huge portions of the novel to pontificate about the evils of American society and of right wing Judaism, often completely out of context. Don't get me wrong - I appreciate a good satire now and then, but not when it clearly has little to do with character motivation. And even then, Ragen's writing is closer to self-righteous than satire.

Delilah is one of the most unsympathetic characters I've ever read, and it made the book a difficult read.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Rabbi Neal Abraham Wendrow said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In general I don't like Naomi Ragen because she is so pro-Settler and absolutely hateful towards Jews who don't agree with her narrow agenda. She once told a Toronto audience she took up writing because she didn't "want to spend the rest of her life making kugels." That would have been a more productive alternative for her!

1:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked her first few novels even though they were far from perfect. But lately her writing has gone downhill. Chains Around the Grass was laugh out loud AWFUL, so I'm not surprised to hear that this latest offering is a waste of time.

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could it be that you liked her other books and hated this one because this is the only one which attacked your segment of Orthodoxy?

9:48 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Anonymous said...

Could it be that you liked her other books and hated this one because this is the only one which attacked your segment of Orthodoxy?


No. I actually haven't read all of her books. I read Sotah, Jepthe's Daughter, The Ghost of Hannah Mendes and The Covenant. Some were better than others, but none were terrible - some quite good. The Saturday Wife was just terrible, honestly, and not because of any sort of defensiveness. The segment of Orthodoxy described in the book didn't seem in any way, shape or form familiar to what I practice.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back orthomom. Missed reading your blog. The book sounds so bad it almost makes me want to read it.

10:55 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Anon 1:30AM: who wrote that Naomi is "so pro-Settler and absolutely hateful towards Jews who don't agree with her narrow agenda". Just to remind you, the Arabs view as "settlers" not only those who, like me, live in the so-called "occupied/disputed territories" but those who live, at the very least, in all the areas outside the 1947 Partition Lines (and I am being generous on behalf of our Arab enemies). Therefore, this constant harping on your favorite target really is totally disconnected with the reality over here and if there is anyone who should be more circumspect, more caring for peace, it is people like you who don't like an author because of her ideological positions. I for one, read all of Amos Oz's books, most of AB Yehoshua, etc. despite their unmitting hostility towards me and cannot understand why people prefer to be small-minded and reject literature this way. By the way, how is your or your wife's kugel?

2:39 PM  
Blogger L'Shmoah said...

I actually read and reviewed this book a couple of months ago and you can read my thoughts in my blog at Rachel Stern reads The Saturday Wife (NOTE: spoiler).

Naomi Ragen definitely agendizes her stories -- all of them. In almost all her books, the heroine is that, female, young, and STUCK, in a Haredi life. She is docile, she is unhappy with her lot in life and she does things to make up for it. I actually enjoy reading her books, but mostly because they are easy to read. They must strike a chord, but they are hyperbole. This book, The Saturday Wife, however, enraged me. Why? Because of the truths exposed. It is meant to be a satire -- but I found this to be the hardest read of all her books.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote an email to Naomi Ragen. I told her that it is about time she wrote about a Charedi family that is living a wonderful and fulfilling life. A person who would have overcome great obstacles to become something special in the Charedi world

7:30 PM  
Blogger MDmom said...

ymedad:

you beat me to it. thank you for putting your thoughts into words here.

forgetting for a moment how uninformed 1.30's anti-"settler" comment is, what's ironic is how hypocritical anon 1.30's comment is. that people will reject a work in any medium, out of hand, simply because he or she does not agree with the ideology of the artist, is a perfect example of narrow-mindedness.

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I reject Naomi Ragen because she is a terrible writer and because of her campaigns, here in chutz l'eretz, against groups like Shalom Achshav which I support.

I reject you West Bank Settlers because most of you are obnoxious, you have held the Israeli public hostage with your demands since the 1970's, and building settlements in the occupied territories violates international law and any standard of decency!

Furthermore, your mouthpieces, such as Arutz 7, spiral out terrible invalidations such as "leftist", or "self hating Jew" against reasonable Jews who want to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, your rabbinic leaders have called upon men in Zahal to mutiny rather than carry out orders to dismantle your outposts, (that mind you is treason), and you have poisoned the very spirit of Religious Zionism. This is what Naomi Ragen embodies. I reject her and wish her well in retirement where she can do less damage to Klal Yisrael. By the way my wife makes a fine Kugel and fortunately reads various "chic detective" mystery authors like Kathy Reichs so Mrs. Nagen's literary trash won't be found in our house!

6:26 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Let me be clear:

I have no issues with reading Naomi Ragen's works because of her politics, or any sort of "agenda" she may have. I personally have no problem separating an artist from his/her views - as MDMom points out as narrow-minded. I simply did not like the book, and found it poorly written and a bit silly. I quite liked some of Ms. Ragen's past endeavors, and I presume her politics and agenda were no different when she wrote those.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous he who remembers said...

I am annoyed because I shlepped it back cross-country as a gift for my wife upon finding it in Barnes and Noble and knowing that my wife had enjoyed her work in the past. My wife read it and threw it into the trash, something we never do in our house, because it was the worst book she had ever read.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Rabbi Neal Abraham Wendrow said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Lakewood Shmuck said...

cmon its time to moderate the comments here.

no "rabbis" should be allowed.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Rabbi Neal Abraham Wendrow said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uh, orthomom, where have you gone? i hope you're not too busy reading another book to tend to your blog here...

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neal Abraham Wendrow : When your messiah comes back, have him call me. I'm listed in the phone book. He can explain his patrilinial descent from Dovid.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Rachmonis said...

Orthomom-

Is somebody nebuch sick? Do you need help of some kind?

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1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps this will get OM's attention!
a. We are sick of $!tf@ce Wendrow!
b. Where the H__L are you?
c. When are you going to learn to actually moderate you blog?

8:33 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


c. When are you going to learn to actually moderate you blog?


You may feel that certain comments go over the line - but I get to make that choice. You want final say over comment moderation, you won't have it on my blog.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet, you finally woke up and deleted Wendrow's bile!

9:37 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

And yet, you finally woke up and deleted Wendrow's bile!

I actually don't think Wendrow's comments are "bile" - just extremely misguided. That said, the reason I delete his comments is because he always wears out my generous welcome. I would be OK with leaving a polite comment of his on a thread - it's when he bombards us with comment after comment that he gets zapped.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Rabbi Neal Abraham Wendrow said...

Brethren,

All of my comments are polite as I love you so and only want to see all of you in heaven!

2:43 PM  
Blogger Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

I hate to chime in to the festival of disapproval here, but I actually liked the book. Sorry.

I thought it was funny, and very deliberately over the top. Yes, Delilah is a terrible, shallow person, but that's deliberate--she's a modern, frum, Becky Sharp or Scarlett O'Hara--she's not meant to be a good person.

Not exactly a modern classic, but I read it over a Sunday afternoon and enjoyed it.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dum de dum...

orthomom, is everything alright? you haven't posted in over a month! (not counting this sort of lame book review, filler post...)

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear ORTHOMOM,
I have been an avid reader of yours for quite some time. I truly enjoyed your posts on the school board issues and all the other important items that you brought to our attention. Due to limited time I generally only check one or two blogs a day. As it has been a while since you last posted, I am asuming that you have moved on to other pursuits. I wish you all the best and good luck in all your endeavors.

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Anonymous Rabbi Neal Abraham Wendrow said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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