Women are often underestimated. When men think they have played all of their cards, the women reveal the winning hand.
The new film, The Women’s Balcony, tells the story of the members of a small congregation in Jerusalem. In accordance to Orthodox custom, men and women pray in separate sections of the shul. When the women’s balcony is damaged during a Bar Mitzvah service and several members of the congregation are injured, the men turn temporarily to a new Rabbi. This new Rabbi has ideas on how the services should be conducted and how the members of the congregation should comport themselves. Unfortunately, this means the women are completely excluded from services.
This does not sit well with the women, who will not take this new Rabbi and his ideas lying down. Their husbands, meanwhile, seem to be taken in by the Rabbi.
Will this congregation split for good or will they find a way to come together again?
I really enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed it because it is funny, charming, human and still feels very relevant in 2017.
*Warning: This review contains spoilers about Still Star Crossed. Read at your risk.
My new favorite television show is Still Star Crossed. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the source material is not just Shakespeare’s play, but also a novel by Melinda Taub.
The plot of the book somewhat mirrors the plot of the television show. Romeo and Juliet are dead and the streets of Verona are drenched in blood. To restore peace, young Prince Escalus sees only one way to end the violence: unite the Capulets and Montagues in holy matrimony. The surviving heirs, Romeo’s cousin Benvolio is to marry Juliet’s cousin Rosalind. The problem is that neither the prospective bride or prospective groom care for each other. Add to the fact that Escalus and Rosalind were once in love and there are forces at work who would prefer to see Rosalind and Benvolio not marry.
As expected, there are changes between the book and the novel. While most of the language is Shakespearean English, Ms. Taub does switch to modern English a couple of times in the book.
Do I recommend it? I will answer the question this way. If I only knew the book, I would say yes. But being that I am a fan of the show, I am leaning toward maybe.
Writing a sequel or a prequel to a beloved narrative is akin to walking on a tightrope. The task of the writer is to continue the narrative and character development without going so far out of range that the audience feels like they have lost sight of the original tale. Some writers succeed at this task, others fail miserably.
Pam Jenoff is one of those writers who not only succeeds, but she takes both the narrative and characters in new directions that fit like a glove.
The Diplomat’s Wife is a sequel to Ms. Jenoff’s debut novel, The Kommandant’s Girl. In The Diplomat’s wife, the focus is not Emma Bau, the protagonist from The Kommandant’s Girl, but Marta Nederman, Emma’s best friend from the resistance. World War II is over and Marta has survived only by the grace of G-d. After Marta is rescued from Nazi captivity, she falls in love with Paul, an American serviceman. He is as head over heels in love with her and as she is with him. They quickly get engaged and make plans to marry.
But then Paul is killed and Marta finds herself pregnant. She marries Simon, a British diplomat and life seems to be returning to normal. But that normalcy is threatened by a communist spy within British Intelligence. Marta goes on a dangerous mission to out the spy, who maybe closer to her than she thinks.
Pam Jenoff is my new favorite writer. This book is nothing short of amazing. I love not just the detail of the period, but the danger that Marta knowingly puts herself in. I could not put it down and I seriously need a sequel.