Yochi Brandes, one of Israel’s top writers, at her home outside Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: YOGEV AMRANY)
FOR ME, “The Orchard” by Yochi Brandes was the perfect novel to read over a Shabbat afternoon and evening, in that although I found myself racing to finish it, I knew that the moment I read the final page I would regret not having more of it to read.The story of the book’s central characters of Rabbi Akiba (Akiva, in Hebrew) and his long-suffering wife Rachel have been told many times, but this rendering left me in amazement at the breadth of the author’s knowledge and the depth of her research. I found myself needing to remind myself that compelling as the writing is, the book is a novel. So the characters, their lives and times have been subject to the author’s imagination and interpretation.