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  Naomi Ragen

Naomi Ragen
author of ...

The Ghost of Hannah Mendes Jephte's Daughter Sotah (A Woman Under Suspicion) The Sacrifice of Tamar

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The Ghost of Hannah Mendes (ISBN   068483393X, Simon and Shuster, 1998)
A wise and deeply moving new novel depicting one family's search for its Sephardic roots. An elderly Manhattan matron with only a short time to live -- who despairs at the thought of her only legacy being her apathetic granddaughters -- is visited by a ghost of a remarkable ancestor, who offers her a challenge and a partnership.
The Sacrifice of Tamar  (Crown, 1995)
Tamar Finegold is a happy young bride in one of Brooklyn's insulated ultra-Orthodox enclaves. As the wife of a rising young Rabbi and Talmud scholar, her status is assured. But this staid, predictable life crashes violently when Tamar is raped by a black intruder as she baby-sits for her baby nephew. Humiliated and confused, she refuses to risk the unbearable stigma of discovery. But in her attempt to hide her shame, she is sent plummeting into a moral crisis when she discovers she is pregnant and cannot be sure who the father is. Faced with impossible choices, she turns to her two best friends. Together, the three relive their childhood, exploring their past struggles to reconcile their faith with the haphazard tragedies that befall all human beings. In the end, heartbreaking sacrifices and impossible decisions lead to a surprising triumph of the human spirit.
Sotah  (Crown, 1995)
Sotah introduces a family with three daughters approaching the age of marriage: Devorah, Dina and Chaya Leah. In the strict orthodoxy of their world, a sotah is a wife suspected of infidelity who can be tried by ordeal to prove she is guiltless. Which sister could be capable of such a thought, let alone the act? Into the pious world of strict chaperoning, modest clothing, where a married woman's hair must never be seen by a man other than her husband -insinuates this serpent suggestion of evil. Ragen's powerful tale of three sisters spins endless questions: Which one? Could she? Did she? What changes could come into this orderly world because of unthinking actions?
Jephte's Daughter  (Warner, 1995)
Abraham Ha-Levi is a wealthy American businessman and the last male survivor of an important Orthodox Jewish family. He decides it's time he finally honoured his religious and cultural inheritance and so forces his 18-year old daughter - the beautiful and intelligent Batsheva - into an arranged marriage. Her new husband is a devout Torah scholar who lives in Jerusalem. Batsheva finds herself plunged into a new life and a strange land, among people who follow their religious laws to the letter. Then she realizes that her husband's piety is merely a mask for his cruelty. A magnificent book that builds up momentum compellingly. It's so good that it's hard to believe this is a first novel - keep your eyes peeled for the next one!" (Review, Best magazine, London, England, Sept. 1, 1989).
 

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Last modified: August 27, 1999