Rachel's tale: A novel about Rabbi Akiba's long-suffering wife

Set in the turbulent and confusing times after the destruction of the Second Temple, the novel makes you feel the chaos and uncertainty of the times.

By YEHUDIT COLLINS
January 10, 2018 16:32
Baghdad in the 1950sYochi Brandes, one of Israel’s top writers, at her home outside Tel Aviv

Yochi Brandes, one of Israel’s top writers, at her home outside Tel Aviv. (photo credit: YOGEV AMRANY)

 
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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.

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