Love Life by Zeruya Shalev

Love Life is a truly beautiful book: beautiful in its turn of phrase, in its intensity and beautiful in the way that people are beautiful – you stare and stare and then suddenly beauty breaks down into individual features and for one terrifying moment beauty is the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen and you can’t look away.

Ya’ara is a young married woman trying to find a place for herself in the world. She is trying to understand her past – what role her dead brother played, how her parents’ relationship turned sour, who her parents are. She is trying to understand her choices and her desires, which are so readily fettered to others’ expectations. She is unhappy in her married life. She is unprepared to work for her university career. She dislikes her parents and her friends. She wanders around hungry for something that will help her change and she finds it in her parents’ old friend, Aryeh. Despite the age difference, despite his painful indifference, she debases herself for him, throwing her life at his feet all in order to discover more about Aryeh and his past with her parents and his past with his dying wife, and his every passing thought and movement in the present. Their relationship is suffocating in a completely opposite way to that of her relationship with her husband and ultimately that is what saves her and leads her love life to force her into loving life. Of course, she is also saved by the pages of an old book.

This love of narrative and the hidden meanings in old stories – much of which I need more time to understand because they are Jewish legends surrounding the fall of the temple – is another reason I loved this book. Truth is hidden in the interpretation of the stories others tell and the stories we tell ourselves. It’s hard to resist quoting the book, so here’s one:
‘This was apparently the root of love, to want to tell someone about every trifle that happened to you, in the hope that on the tortuous path from your mouth to his ear, the story would achieve its meaning, its justification, as if it had all happened simply so that I could tell it to Aryeh when he came to me at night, and not only it but every little thing that had ever happened, that was happening, that would happen in the future, this was their whole point, to tell them to Aryeh, even if Aryeh wasn’t in the least interested.’ (p181-182)

Whilst the description of intelligent Ya’ara being buffeted by the whirlwind of her relations with Aryeh is often extremely unpleasant, it is usually when it strikes some chord of familiarity – ‘I wondered to myself if this was harassment or pleasure’ (p199). There are moments when the dreadful things we sometimes think appear in black and white, unerased from the narrative of her life and they are both pleasing and horrifying because the intensity of her voice is hard to breathe especially when it holds up the dark mirror of mania. Perhaps, what I’m really saying is that, unlike Intuition by Allegra Goodman, Love Life is my kind of book and has an unpalatable quality that fascinates me.

I loved Love Life and would read it again. This is a bestseller you should buy and treasure.

I’m relieved I’ve managed to make the Christmas blog. Next week I’m reading The Last World by Christoph Ransmayr in what will be probably be a cold and windy New Year in Brittany.

35 thoughts on “Love Life by Zeruya Shalev”

  1. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the information you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my cell
    phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G ..

    Anyways, very good site!

    Take a look at my web blog … Epifania

  2. This design is incredible! You certainly know how
    to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my
    own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really loved
    what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.

    Too cool!

    Here is my site –

  3. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so
    much, However I am going through issues with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I
    am unable to join it. Is there anybody having the same RSS issues?
    Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond?


    My web site –

  4. Pretty component to content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to claim
    that I get in fact loved account your weblog posts.
    Any way I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access constantly

    Also visit my blog …

  5. Quality articles is the key to invite the viewers to visit the site, that’s what this website is providing.

    Feel free to surf to my webpage :: full spectrum cbd
    oil uk (Rex)

  6. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your
    post’s to be what precisely I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers
    to write content for you personally? I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects
    you write concerning here. Again, awesome web log!

    My web page: Urgent Electrician near me

  7. Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?
    I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m
    having a tough time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs
    and I’m looking for something completely unique.
    P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

    my web page – dr dabber sale

  8. Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i
    was just wondering if you get a lot of spam comments?
    If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything
    you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad
    so any support is very much appreciated.

    My website; Maddison

  9. Hello! I realize this is kind of off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does building a well-established blog such as yours take a
    large amount of work? I am brand new to running a blog however I do
    write in my journal daily. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share
    my personal experience and feelings online. Please let me know
    if you have any recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring
    bloggers. Thankyou!

    My page … Quyen

  10. This design is wicked! You definitely know how to
    keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos,
    I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

    my page: skin so soft on face

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.