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A REMARKABLE KINDNESS: A Story About Friendship ~Diana Bletter

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

TLC Book Tours  asked me to read and review this book and after reading the promotion material I was looking forward to this very good book about women and friendship.  The book arrived by UPS with a squeak and a promise before the scheduled review.  I set everything aside and read the book cover to cover in one day, with as much speed as I could muster.  I think it would have been a much better read at a slower pace, but I enjoyed the book even with the great push.

About A Remarkable Kindness
• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015)

Through a largely hidden ceremony . . . four friends discover the true meaning of life.
It’s 2006 in a seaside village in Israel, where a war is brewing. Lauren, Emily, Aviva and Rachel, four memorable women from different backgrounds, are drawn to the village. Lauren, a maternity nurse, loves her Israeli doctor husband but struggles to make a home for herself in a foreign land thousands of miles away from her beloved Boston. Seeking a fresh start after a divorce, her vivacious friend Emily follows. Strong, sensuous Aviva, brought to Israel years earlier by intelligence work, has raised a family and now lost a son. And Rachel, a beautiful, idealistic college graduate from Wyoming, arrives with her hopeful dreams.

The women forge a friendship that sustains them as they come to terms with love and loss, and the outbreak of war. Their intimate bond is strengthened by their participation in a traditional ritual that closes the circle of life. As their lives are slowly transformed, each finds unexpected strength and resilience.

Brimming with wisdom, rich in meaningful insights, A Remarkable Kindness is a moving testament to women’s friendship, illuminating a mostly unknown ritual that underscores what it means to truly be alive.” (From the TLC website)

What I enjoyed when reading this story was the constant loss and the women’s reaction to each loss.  Loss of a favorite city and an expectation, loss of a partner, loss because of war, loss because of change or choices, and loss because of old age and life’s patterns.  I enjoyed reading about loss because we ignore it in our culture and it is a big part of living, that often defines our lives – first we acquire and then we let go.  The four women friends were connected because they all moved from the USA to Israel and they were all active in their Jewish Faith, although that was verbally downplayed in the story, they were all programed to rely on their faith and the rules of their lives and living.  The story very much paralleled the author’s own life and story.

The descriptions of another country and the Jewish traditions were very nice and opened my perspective on the friendship shared by these women and their families.  It was not just foxhole faith, but rather served them well as they interacted and took care of their children, husbands, and homes.

The writing was often simplistic and although the author was writing about what she knew from her own story, it left me wanting for some more meaning and character interpretations of the war and the politics; not just a study of loss.   I think 4 American women would have had a lot more to say about the politics on the ground and not been so dependent on husbands and fathers in their new country.  There was not a lot of depth to the characters and just one perspective.  Lots of sobbing and crying and very little wisdom or deeper thinking was involved.   I read the book in very short order, and I do not think I am inclined to re-read it; I very often want to read more about women’s friendships but once was enough for A REMARKABLE KINDNESS.

About Diana Bletter  (From TLC website)

“Diana Bletter is a writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Commentary. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women, with photographs by Lori Grinker, was shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. In 1991, she moved from New York to a seaside village in northern Israel where she lives with her husband and children, and volunteers in a burial circle.”

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