Rated of 5
I am British and I now live in Israel having emmigrated here (albeit in 1999 and not 1946). And I am in love with Tel Aviv and its history.
To be honest I was quite surprised by the reviews that this book got since I was underwhelmed by truth in the writing. The book's description of Israel just strikes me as very flat and though there are portraits of inhabitants and characters (ie Yekkes, refugees, British soldiers, activists) the writing does not take you to what is the real Israel.
The writing style is good but as should be clear here not in my view prose fitting to describe Israel.
I am leaving aside socio- views - take it from a Londoner, what is overwhelming about Irael is the heat, the humidity, the vitality of the people. This absolutely does not come across in the book, to my mind. I realise 1946 was different when you are mixing amongst Yekkes and camp surivors but the still the description of the Kibbutznikim in the book did not describe the energy that jumps out of peoples'skin here.
The smells in israel, the colour of the sky, the heat, nature, the sea - all these things are overwhelming to a native Londoner and certainly a cosseted girl circo 1946 but none of this comes in the book. If you have never been to Israel and want to understand what I am talking about a good start are Israeli painters of this century such as Kalishman, Shalom Reisner, Aharon, Agam, Nahum Gutman.
The professional cricital reviews to this book that I have seen are very positive, To be honest I don't know why. Perhaps because they are written by people who are looking inside the lines of the book for some kind of cathartic English literature explanation for the State's Establishment and whatever they think they should read is contained within?..
This is one book that should bear out my personal experience to an extent but disappointingly I did not find that it did capture the lust and intensity of this land and instead was a tale of a Londoner who finds herself in the Middle East and just muttered "öh."