I love every single book written by Zeruya Shalev. Her fine knowledge of relationship and alienation, emotional separation and couple loneliness always goes deep into the nature of facts and feelings.
Her latest novel, Pain, to be released at the beginning of November, is another introspection into mature relationships and families and the pressure between genuine pure love and the weight of family circumstances.
What would you do when the love of your life reappears suddenly into your life, 30 years after he left you? How will you deal with the memories of the old pain, or actually, had this pain ever left? Ironically, Eitan, Iris' first love is an expert in pain but apparently unable to go beyond the flow of emotions. Childishly, he is back in Iris' life as nothing happened, driven by emotion and passion. He appears like an element of the main story and we are unable to figure out what exactly he is thinking or if he is having any specific reflection on the relationship at all.
Instead, Iris is caught between her family obligations, a daughter that she always wanted to have with her first love not with her emotionally distraught husband and that apparently is the victim of a strange liberation cult directed by the bar owner where she is working in Tel Aviv, and her daily professional load as a school principal. She has to deal also with the physical pain following a terror attack she was victim thereof - the author herself was hurt in such a tragical occurrence.
I was misleaded to focus mostly on the reignited relationship and superficially, was about to bet about what exactly will happen with Iris' relationship. But it would have been so stereotypical and melodramatic.
Iris is becoming so involved in dealing with the challenges of the present, while keep investigating her feelings and relationships that what it matters in the end is the moment. The past consumed in pain for the lost love or the future of the happiness together with the found love are relatively irrelevant. Iris has the strength to create a new story made of the fragments of the everyday fight with against the pain, both physical and emotional.
The translation from Hebrew to English was done admirably by Sondra Silverston which also brought to the English-speaking public authors like the late Amos Oz and Eshkol Nevo.
Personally, will add a special mention for the suggestive cover as well.
Disclaimer: ARC offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 stars