Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Gallery of Vanished Husbands - Natasha Solomons

The Gallery of Vanished Husbands This is the hardback cover of a lovely lovely book.  A book which, if you are Jewish will ring a bell or two (I think).  If you are not Jewish you will find out things about the Jewish faith that will surprise you.  Either way, this is a book which has family and Judaism at it's heart, but it's not really about being Jewish, more about love and how that will affect a life.
Juliet is Jewish, married with two small children.  One morning she gets out of bed as usual, goes downstairs to make breakfast as usual, and notes that a painting of her as a child has been cut out of it's frame and taken, together with some money in an envelope attached to the back.  It is at that minute she knows that her husband George is gone.  She waits a couple of days before telling her parents, and then realises that under strict Jewish rules, she cannot remarry (because  he is not dead) unless he divorces her.  As he has completely disappeared, how will she ever find out where he has gone?  That's the "vanished husband".

But this book is so much more than that.  How Juliet copes with being almost invisible to the Jews in her neighbourhood, how she brings the children up in an almost secular way, how she finds a way to get on with her life.... it's all there.  There are men who love her, there are men who want just to paint her, there are those who want both.  So throughout her life, Juliet will take a lover, think sometimes about the vanished husband, and collect all those paintings of herself.  And at the very last, she will receive in the post, another painting to add to all those others.

This Natasha Solomons' third book, and they've all been worth reading, and have been for me easy to recall later (if a book "sticks" with me, it must be good!). I do recommend this one, and look forward to her next.