Reviews of Hazut Mehugenet

July 17, 2013

I enjoyed this book so much, I didn't want it to end.

Feminine literature at its best, with a loud and clear voice and strong and brave statement, about women in general and women and men in society, a society which many times gives clear preference to the male voice. Yes, there is good feminine literature, often excellent, and it should be heard and read. This is leading literature, which has the power to show up at the right time, pointing at the right place. I admit that I too have shown favorites with masculine literature, since I felt that male writers tend to fall into sticky romantic love stories less, not to mention Schmaltzy. Well that's true, but not completely. And besides, I already learned there's nothing wrong with a little bit of Schmaltz.

However, "A Twist of Malice" by Jean Rae Baxter is exceptionally brilliant. It is filled with love and admiration to women, and yet does not have a pinch of over-stickiness. The book is a compilation of short stories, which described decent people, living their normal lives, who find themselves caught in absurd situations. The solutions to these situations are creative, surprising and even bold and very extreme. The woman is always at the front and center, with all her power and beauty. She is the main heroin of all stories. All these women are daring, proud and awe inspiring, at times fearsome, even when they are at their lower points in life. What is very special in these stories, and the thing that won me over, is the fact that although they describe extreme situations and solutions, they are not detached from reality, since in all of them there are characters which are decent and quite ordinary, and sometimes even boring. They also hold a seed of truth, a human existence that can come to be.

I admit that this book got to my hands just at the right time, and I have written in the past that I believe in "literary Karma", "the goddess of literature" or God knows what they call that force, that brings a book right to the right hands at the right time.

I don't choose books. They always "call me", "choose me", and I am right for them and they are right for me.

This book is so right and on time for me, just when I am learning and discovering how much strength the woman who stands alone at the front of the stage has. And this is true for any woman, who has the power to look in the mirror for a minute, and love what she sees; and for any man who knows what feminine beauty and power is, if only for the fact that all the stories have a strong, sometimes poignant saying about the place of women in society.

The book contains 12 short stories and a novella. They all discover that behind the respectable appearance (the Hebrew name, NM) there can be a tempestuous soul, which can come to a very extreme solution.

A catering waitress hiding a secret from the past, a lonely and forsaken woman who adopts memories, a beaten woman who runs away and determines the fate of her husband, the fate of an honest lover, a lost ring from a past lover, a woman losing a husband and a son in the same day, an inheritance sewed into a quilt, a dying woman abandoned, and more, and more.

These grotesque situations bring to the reader a whole parade of colorful, lively characters, the absurd theatre in all its beauty and acridity.

Highly, highly, highly recommended!

Reviewer: Dorit Yisrali
English translation by Noa Marom