Review of 'Disobedience'

Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

disobedience.jpg Now living in New York, Ronit returns to the small suburb of Hendon in north London following the death of her father, a respected Rabbi. In Hendon she discovers her childhood girlfriend Esti has married another childhood friend Dovid who is in line to replace her father at the synagogue. Esti and Dovid live a orthodox Jewish life that is now alien to Ronit. So when Esti and Ronit rekindle their childhood romance the scandal quickly spreads through the Jewish community…and Ronit is not one to shirk away from controversy.

This is an altogether different book from Alderman's later Science Fiction novel The Power but has similar themes of woman's rights, suppression and oppression. “Disobedience”, her first novel, is a gentle story that provides a glimpse into an insular society that most are not familiar with, making use of a large amount of Jewish terminology that will likely be unfamiliar which somewhat slows down the book. The narrative draws a vivid picture of what it must be like in this society and how it's inhabitants act which, while interesting, does get a bit tedious as the details unfold. As for the story, it is Ronit's arrival, of course, that throws a huge stone into the generally calm pond of this society and this is where the drama comes in. “Disobedience” is a story of self-discovery and coming to terms with a society that one has pushed aside.

It is a bit slow going to start as you come to terms with what is going on and the nature of Orthodox Jewish life but after that it is much easier to read as the story unfolds. This is not a huge drama but rather a gentle simmer of a story of real life.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-04-10

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 2006

ISBN: 9780241988237

Other reviewed books by Naomi Alderman: