Book Review of Judas

JudasThere’s a lot to like about Judas, the 2017 Man Booker Prize nominated novel by Amos Oz.  An Israeli, Oz has exceptionally beautiful prose and seems to have mastered romantic longing in his stories.

This one if about Schmuel, a university student dedicated to the study if Jewish views of Christ – and that also if Judas, a largely demonised character in Christian mythology but not so much in historical record. But Schmuel’s life is upended when his parents announce they can no longer afford his school fees, and his girlfriend leaves him to marry her ex.

Schmuel quickly finds himself living as a companion to an old Jewish politician and his daughter-in-law, a sad and mysterious women who quickly he comes to dream about.

Its a book about foolish young hearts, unrequited love, intellectual curiosity, and the ostracising of the Jews for their failure to recognise Jesus as the messiah.  Some of this was deeply religious, and some political and much of it admittedly outside of my sphere of understanding.  And this did slow down my reading of what ultimately is a finely crafted story.


Book Review of The Wonder

unknownEmma Donoghue knows how to write an engaging story – and she knows the kinds of ideas and issues that will engage readers.

Although Frog Music wasn’t quite as popular as Room, The Wonder will find plenty of fans.

Set in rural Ireland, a nurse trained by legendary Florence Nightingale is called to watch over a young girl begin hailed as a miracle – surviving solely of a few teaspoons of water (and faith of course) each day.  Lib doesn’t share the community’s faith though, and initially keeps watch like a hawk to ensure the child isn’t taking on any sustenance.  However, as the days go on and she notices what is happening to the girl, her attitude changes remarkably.  I won’t say how or why, but The Wonder will grab your attention and keep it.  Donoghue paces the storyline well and creates complex and believable characters – even in these most strange of circumstances.  And this is not a one off – The Wonder is based on a number of cases steeped in fact and tradition. Fans will not be disappointed here.