One Night, Markovitch
By Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, and Sondra Silverston
Amazing debut from Israel: magical, side-splitting and deeply touchingTweet
Two men are crossing the sea to marry women they have never met, in order to help them escape war-torn Europe for the Jewish homeland. Zeev Feinberg, lover of many women and proud owner of a lustrous moustache, yearns to return home to a girl whose skin is sweet with the smell of oranges. For Yaaciv Markovitch however, who no women has ever looked at twice, his fake marriage is the beginning of a lifelong obsession.
I didn't think this book was for me. However, I got involved with the characters and wanted to know what would happen to them. The individual stories are intertwined and although there isn't one character who stands out, there are several likeable ones.
The writing is warm, sympathetic, funny, sad but, most of all, full of hope.
I would recommend this book. It was originally written in Hebrew but has been translated very well. Apart from a few quirky words, it is seamless.
I have to admit that most of my Reading Group gave up on this, including me. We didn't persevere very far because we thought it crude and coarse and weren't enjoying it. However, having read the other reviews I feel I must give it another go at a later date.
The Gillingham Community Hub and Library Readers Group found this very hard to get into.
Sadly they found in quite dreary in places and a sad depressing read.
They feel they would not recommend this book to others as they did not enjoy the book.
I found the novel rather sad. the adults had complex lives and friendships and all were looking for love and happiness. the book is about a life that is very different to ours and was hard to get into but once I became involved I wanted to know what happened to everyone. The ending was mainly sad and rather truncated . The " After After" could perhaps have been omitted completely.
Very good book. Took a little while to get into, and the style takes a bit of getting used to. However it really is very beautifully written and the plot is wonderfully intricate throughout. I would reccomend this to others. It is superb and you really feel immersed in the plot. Such a unique book, completely different to anything I've ever read before. Well worth a read.
I have just finished 'One Night, Markovitch' and have enjoyed reading it. I felt that the book was slow to get going and I had to make myself persevere with it, but by the middle of the book I was hooked and cared about the characters and what was going to happen next. I wanted to like Bella at the beginning but found that I couldn't. I had sympathy for her situation and thought that Yaacov was cruel in not divorcing her. He was not a likeable character at all at the beginning of the story, coming across as a weak and spiteful man. However, as the story developed I grew to like him more and more and to dislike Bella even further! The parallel of their story as they moved away from each other and back again was gripping and I truly wanted Bella to grow to love him. I felt that it only confirmed how spiteful she had become that she left Yaacov almost immediately he set her free when he had loved her son unconditionally. It was as if the two personalities of Bella and Yaacov swapped as time went on. What Yaacov did was wrong, but Bella's response somehow made it worse.
The story was gripping and made me as the reader care about what happened to all of the characters regardless of whether I liked them or not. It is a story of love, but not of happiness, of selfishness and cruelty mixed with selflessness and kindness. It made me cry at the end when Yaacov was all alone again and seemed to have been for a very longtime. I had so wanted him to be happy.
I found this book rather heavy going and struggled to finish it.
Two of our book group members said if you can get past the first 100 pages of 'filth' it turns into a sweet story. On that basis three more members have decided to pick up the book again and try to get further with it. Two members found it very offensive and on explanation more members decided not to read it. It was generally felt that it is completely unnecessary to write so crudely as to cause offence.
Of the 11 members of our group 4 decided not to read any further after the initial 30 pages or so. References to female anatomy were excessively descriptive and unnecessary and did not add any value to the story. We wondered if this was a consequence of translation from Hebrew? It was difficult to feel any sense of rapport with any of the characters, but we did get an insight into the difficulties of the region and time. Of those who finished no one enjoyed it or would recommend it to others.
I'm afraid this book failed to hit the spot really. All in all we thought it could have been so much more. We found parts of it gently humorous rather than laugh-out-loud funny. The patience of Markovitch himself we found tedious rather than admirable. The descriptions of the characters, particularly the women whilst poetic could be unnecessarily vulgar at times (apart from the scent of oranges on Sonya's skin, that description we liked).None of us had heard of the Irgun before, so the book has opened our eyes a little. There was a depression running through it, which though understandable given the time it was set in, made it a trudge to read. Perhaps that was the point?
Our group said: Steady, if slow start, entertaining middle and it had a predictable ending. Wasn't good enough to recommend. It needed more information about the place. The book tells us more about the author than the story and how she seems to have an obsession with sex. The point of the book was lost in translation. Where was the humour? Unoriginal! Didn't like anything about it, so I didn't finish it. I found it disappointing. A story that had potential was replaced with something boring.
A slow start, once the men return home with their wives the story becomes more interesting, but it is a mixture of styles, which makes it a mediocre read. It jumps about a lot between characters and many parts were tedious. One minute the men are acting as teenage boys discussing women’s breasts ad nausium then the serious matter of Markovitch’s life begins. He was mistreated by Bella and ostracised by the villagers, but there is a lot of ramblings amongst the nitty gritty of the story which tends to dilute the message (if there is one!). There are friends betraying friends and quite a lot of misery.
I wanted to have more sympathy with Markovitch than I did. I felt some of his pain, but also Bella’s anguish at being trapped in a marriage of convenience. Although there are lots of descriptive events I didn’t get to know the characters or empathise with them until very near the end. The death of Yair Feinberg provided the catalyst for a change of heart over Bella and she gave him the ‘one night’.