The River Midnight

Patty Osborne

The River Midnight by Lilian Nattel (Knopf) made me miss men a little, because it is a very sexy book. This is surprising, because it is about life in a Jewish village in Poland at the turn of the century, a place where women cut off their hair and wear wigs after they are married, and where the sexes are segregated during religious celebrations. Still, they manage to have sexual adventures in which the women's big, soft, rounded bodies are the stuff of fantasies, even into middle and old age. Other things happen, of course, as Nattel paints a picture of the life and times of this village without resorting to long passages of historical explanation. From how to slaughter animals so that the meat is kosher, to the pleasure a husband is supposed to give his wife on the Friday night before Shabbat (there's that sexual thing again), the story is rich with images of life in a particular time and place.

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