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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 19, Kathryn Bashaar rated it really liked it. This book was right up my alley: retelling of Old Testament Stories from the perspective of the women, such as Lot's wife and King David's wife Michel. The author is a scholar in both religion and literature, so she didn't just go off on a tangent and rewrite the Bible to suit herself or to suit 21st-century feminist sensibilities.
She wrote from the perspectives of women, but true Ancient-World women. The stories brought these ancient stories to life for me, and made them feel more personal and This book was right up my alley: retelling of Old Testament Stories from the perspective of the women, such as Lot's wife and King David's wife Michel. The stories brought these ancient stories to life for me, and made them feel more personal and identifiable. Apr 22, Rachel rated it it was amazing Shelves: jewish-short-stories. I've been waiting awhile to get to these short stories; when I first heard about them, my interest in biblical retellings was reignited.
Lemberger, with all of her knowledge and empathy, accomplished what I might have dreamed of had I taken this task more seriously. I was at least vaguely familiar with almost all of the stories presented here, but I've been waiting awhile to get to these short stories; when I first heard about them, my interest in biblical retellings was reignited. I was at least vaguely familiar with almost all of the stories presented here, but as promised, she really burst those worlds open. Even disregarding the characters for a moment, her descriptions of the landscapes, from lush Persia to the arid desert, made the worlds seem real even in the most magical realist of stories.
We start with Eve, who, as the main character of an origin-of-life story, is the only one who understands, through her narrative, that she is recounting things for all time. Or, at least she would be if her voice counted as much as Adam's and those of her sons. Cities rise and fall from there; warfare, conquest and cruelty are often a backdrop here, as they are in the Hebrew Bible. We see how ambition turns Yael's people, who are surprisingly peaceable at first, into warmongers.
Yael's story was similar to Lot's wife's, named Puha here, in that they both make murderous choices in service of an arguably higher goal, but then they have to live with the unwanted consequences of that. These dilemmas perhaps speak the most to me from a modern perspective. The women narrating these tales had slightly differing desires--Yael longed for the peace and family of the old days, Puha wanted to save her daughters, Zaresh was mired in a world of political intrigue as a way to advance her family and I commend Lemberger for telling a story about THAT man's wife while never mentioning his name; surely intentional.
Sometimes the worlds and other characters around these women seemed a little one dimensional; we were there to witness how the protagonists wove through all of that. Marriage and child-rearing, servitude to men and judgment based solely on looks was something none of these women could escape. Penina, perhaps, had it the worst, because she found no love from her husband or sister wife, and her children were ultimately destined to leave her. Ergo, in a biblical context, she was destined to a life of loneliness, yet she did very little to try and change her fate.
Ultimately, she accepted the status quo. Unlike Hagar, who chose to leave with Ishmael; this surprised me at first, because I believe canonically Sarah drives her out. But it was interesting to give Hagar this agency, and then other ultimate realizations about her life.
Then we have the stories about Michel and Achsah. I've always read Michel transcribed as Michal, but maybe Lemberger didn't want to share her name so intimately. Far be it for me to question a biblical scholar about these spellings anyway. These two characters, besides Deborah who wasn't central and who dealt as a warrior, struck me as the most aggressive. We divvy back and forth between her husband, Palti, and the collective first person of his hometown.
Michel is more distant; we get to know her along with Palti, and Palti himself is easily the most empathetic of the men in this story.
Certainly the most respectful husband, who sees his wife as a real person and not just a prize. Their love felt almost modern. Perhaps he's a good cautionary tale for unbridled tribalism and nationalism, but at least he was a poet and musician, dammit. Anywho, as for Achsah, I didn't know her story at all. But what a note for Lemberger to end on; this women riding back to her father and demanding her due. I love how she was considered "wise" and always let her opinion be known; uplifting!
Of course, I can't end this review without mentioning Miriam, ostensibly my mother's namesake. In a broader world made up of conquerors and the enslaved, she addresses us from ancient pre-Judaism's darkest time--and ergo likely most sympathetic from a modern perspective. Ironically, out of all the characters, Miriam, written as child, was the most idealistic, though perhaps the least interesting on her own.
In this story, much like in the canon, she mostly exists to usher in her brother's entrance. Thanks to the readukkah campaign for Chanukah for giving me the push to finally pick up this book! Mar 05, Rachel rated it really liked it Shelves: short-stories , sukkat-shlom-lunch-learn , sisterhood-torah-fund-book-club.
Jan 08, Lori rated it really liked it. I loved this book. If you are interested in women in the bible, this is a must read. Surprising, smart, well crafted and researched. A great example of modern biblical storytelling. Mar 02, David rated it really liked it Shelves: feminist-action , short-stories , theology. A brilliant retelling of Biblical stories through a Jewish, feminist perspective. Jun 09, James Frederick rated it liked it. This was a really interesting book. I cannot say that I enjoyed reading it, because the stories portrayed and the way the characters were treated was just brutal.
There was little hope to be found here. All of the stories in here are taken from the Old Testament. But you feel beat up time and time again. That is all well captured, here.
Afterwards and other stories by Ian Maclaren
It was a different way to get into the context of the Bible stories and there is certainly some value in that. But I am not sure I would enthusiastically endorse this. I really wrestled between giving this 3 and 4 stars. Since it is the Bible we are talking about, the main message should have included something about hope.
Here, the main message was just pain and how much of it the women in these stories had to endure. Nov 26, Zhelana rated it it was amazing Shelves: book-club , fiction , jewish , read-in , thinky-books , historical-fiction. I was absolutely blown away by this book. It is an attempt to take Biblical women and give them their own story where they are the main character: the protagonist.
It succeeds marvelously at this. Although they are each only given a short story, each of them made me empathize with the women in question, and want to see endings better than the ones I knew they'd have, because I read the Bible, too. Each woman has her own voice from Eve questioning her mothering skills to Michel asking her husband I was absolutely blown away by this book. Each woman has her own voice from Eve questioning her mothering skills to Michel asking her husband to come and take one last walk with her. This is the book I've been waiting for since I left the Catholic church at age 10 because they wouldn't let a girl be an altar boy, let alone a priest.
Sep 21, Katherine rated it it was amazing. This book is a brutal and beautiful read. It probably has much to do with being an older woman, where I can look back on life as a woman and feel so strongly for the women in these stories. Each story is uniquely luminous, and , but of all of them, it was "Saul's Daughter" that finally ended me. Women have always had to make hard choices, based on the roles that have been chosen for them, but sometimes we are very good at denial. This is, after all, the way things have always been, and it isn't This book is a brutal and beautiful read.
This is, after all, the way things have always been, and it isn't about us personally. Saul's daughter knew that it was both - that it was personal, and the way it had always been. Highly recommended. Jan 26, KC Snow rated it liked it. I think, without a doubt, if I knew the original bible stories that "After Abel" retells I would give this book five stars.
Afterwards and Other Stories
But I'm only familiar with the first story of Adam and Eve. That said, I still really enjoyed this book. The concept. The execution.
The style. The tone. The casualty each narrator has towards the men in her lives is inspiring and entertaining. Of course, I imagine life for women back then was far more brutal than even these stories reveal, I appreciated, still, the way eac I think, without a doubt, if I knew the original bible stories that "After Abel" retells I would give this book five stars.
After Abel and Other Stories | Jewish Book Council
Of course, I imagine life for women back then was far more brutal than even these stories reveal, I appreciated, still, the way each woman questions the men around them. Including "God. I loved the stories. The woman's point of view was so interesting, and the imagination of a story within a "known" story was great. I also liked the last chapter about how this all came about, and the discussion of the Book of Ruth. Read this for book club, and am excited about meeting the suthor at our club meeting.
Mar 21, Reba rated it really liked it. I am so glad that I am reading this for a book club. There is so much to discuss here, such rich content in such a slim volume. Even the facts of his death, which ended my doubts forever, throw no light on that. That much the reader must judge for himself. I forget now what chance comment or criticism of mine moved so reticent a man to confide in me. He was, I think, defending himself against an imputation of slackness and unreliability I had made in relation to a great public movement in which he had disappointed me. But he plunged suddenly. The fact is--it isn't a case of ghosts or apparitions--but--it's an odd thing to tell of, Redmond--I am haunted.
I am haunted by something--that rather takes the light out of things, that fills me with longings. He paused, checked by that English shyness that so often overcomes us when we would speak of moving or grave or beautiful things. Then very haltingly at first, but afterwards more easily, he began to tell of the thing that was hidden in his life, the haunting memory of a beauty and a happiness that filled his heart with insatiable longings that made all the interests and spectacle of worldly life seem dull and tedious and vain to him.
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