Holy Lands: Book summary and reviews of Holy Lands by Amanda Sthers

Holy Lands

by Amanda Sthers

Holy Lands by Amanda Sthers X
Holy Lands by Amanda Sthers
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2019
    176 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

A witty, heartwarming, and heart-wrenching epistolary novel about a dysfunctional family - led by a Jewish pig farmer in Israel - struggling to love and accept each other.

As comic as it is deeply moving, Holy Lands chronicles several months in the lives of an estranged family of colorful eccentrics. Harry Rosenmerck is an aging Jewish cardiologist who has left his thriving medical practice in New York - to raise pigs in Israel. His ex-wife, Monique, ruminates about their once happy marriage even as she quietly battles an aggressive illness. Their son, David, an earnest and successful playwright, has vowed to reconnect with his father since coming out. Annabelle, their daughter, finds herself unmoored in Paris in the aftermath of a breakup.

Harry eschews technology, so his family, spread out around the world, must communicate with him via snail mail. Even as they grapple with challenges, their correspondence sparkles with levity. They snipe at each other, volleying quips across the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and Europe, and find joy in unexpected sources.

Holy Lands captures the humor and poignancy of an adult family striving to remain connected across time, geography, and radically different perspectives on life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This is a book you can read in an afternoon, but it'll stick with you for much longer than that. Comic, moving, and occasionally profound, Sthers' novel is a delight." - Kirkus

"This moving novel manages a delicate balance between humor and tenderness among a family incapable of interacting without rancor." - Publishers Weekly

"As each articulate, conflicted, and ardent character endures life-altering experiences, Sthers incisively and provocatively questions crucial matters of religion, morality, inheritance, compassion, and love." - Booklist

"Holy Lands is a subtle balance of originality and emotion. [There are] as many astonishing stories ... as there are moments of emotion, doubt, and love. Between exchanges of acerbic humor, Amanda Sthers reveals, with rhythm and reserve, each and everyone's flaws." - Direct Soir (France)

"Drip[s] with a charming Jewish humor ... A thoughtful and hilarious novel." - L'Avenir (France)

"A truly funny book: a series of hilarious correspondences undertaken by very colorful characters ... This rhythmic and lucid novel is made to devour." - Roman (France)

"This touching novel makes you want to recapture the present with love." - Psychologies (France)

"Sthers is an expert at crafting dysfunctional families that remain touching and relatable. With Holy Lands, she's penned an irreverent and endearing reminder that blood is thicker than water." - Karen Tanabe, author of The Gilded Years

"With eloquent Jewish humor, ironic taunts, familial reprimands, and cries from the heart each of the letters that form this gripping novel reveals a new secret, or asks a new question – about erotic love, friendship, religion, connection... This book reminds us how intense, even pungent, all our letters, postal or electronic, should be." - Grace Dane Mazur, author of The Garden Party

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Reader Reviews

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Betty Taylor

A moving epistolary novel
At times comical, at other times heart-breaking, told through letters and emails, this is the story of a Jewish pig farmer in Israel. But it is more a story of a fractured family. Correspondence flows freely among Harry the farmer, his friend Rabbi Moshe who disapproves of Harry’s pigs, his adult children David and Annabelle, and his ex-wife Monique.

Through their writings we learn that Harry is getting a lot of heat over raising pigs in the Jewish homeland. David, a playwright, is struggling with his sexual identity. Annabelle is dealing with a romantic breakup. And Monique is dying. Like any family, they complain and argue, and occasionally express their love. But they are all very likeable characters.

You cannot have a book on Israel that does not include some politics. But it wasn’t heavy on it. The issues with the pigs, some discussion about the wall – not enough to spoil the mood of the book.

I love the cover – can’t see it couldn’t put a smile on your face. There is also something about epistolary novels that I really enjoy. Maybe it is because they seem to be more direct.

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Author Information

Amanda Sthers

Amanda Sthers was born in Paris and lives in Los Angeles. She is the bestselling author of ten novels; this is her American debut. She is also a playwright, screenwriter, and director. Her debut English-language film, Madame, will be released in America in March 2018. In 2011, the French government named her a Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor it bestows on artists, for her significant and original contributions to the literary arts.

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