Reuben Sachs by Amy Levy
Published by Persephone, 2007
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
First published in 1888, this forgotten classic was revived by the wonderful Persephone Books. I really admire the ideas Levy was exploring, with the novel essentially serving as an indictment of the strict hold societal rules held over people’s lives, with particular regard to class, wealth, reputation, and religion.
While I can appreciate that it would be somewhat revolutionary in its day for a woman to write an outwardly critical view of life as a Jew in Victorian London, by today’s standards it all feels a bit pedestrian and lacking in drive, with little in the way of outright conflict or development beyond what the blurb sets out.
Still, Levy’s prose remains very readable, capturing the look and feel of the era in which she lived, and though the delivery underwhelmed, her themes of expectation, hypocrisy, and suppression remain relevant.
Mother/land by Ananda Lima
Published by Black Lawrence Press, 2021
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
An interesting dissection of language and identity within the context of life as an immigrant mother. The success of poetry depends almost entirely on whether you click with the poet’s style, and that’s a wholly subjective thing. So while I have no specific complaints about this collection, per se, it hasn’t become a new favourite either.
That said, there are a few gems to be found, and those who see their own experiences reflected in Lima’s will likely find it a considerably more powerful read.
Thank you to the publisher for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.