Zeruya Shalev`s first novel is the story of a woman whose marriage is disintegrating, and whose consciousness is likewise suffering a severe breakdown. The language and form of the novel are a chilling, immediate expression of the protagonist`s inner world, sweeping the reader into a realm where fantasy and reality are intertwined, inextricable and sometimes indistinguishable from each other, where fear, doubt and horror dominate existence.
The crisis of the protagonist`s divorce rouses hitherto dormant anxieties and emotions that span her entire life. What is the true nature of her relationship with her parents? What were her experiences as a child? Were her needs fulfilled? Did she feel loved and appreciated? By examining these questions in her own associative and haphazard way, she also investigates the challenges and shortcomings of her own motherhood and her relationship with her own daughter, thereby revealing to herself her fear of failure and inadequacy.
Agonizing that she has been unable to protect her daughter properly, that she does not possess a mother`s true love or the other necessary maternal qualities -selflessness, dedication, devotion - the protagonist imagines her daughter disappearing, running away, or being abandoned and finds herself fluctuating between dread, horror and relief. She abruptly comes face to face with the emotions associated with the men in her life - her father, her husband, her lover, her beloved. What have they meant to her? What roles have they played in her life?
This novel, an extraordinary externalization of a psychological process and of psychic chaos, raises the timeless themes of identity, love, marriage, sex and motherhood, illustrating the complexity and confusion they entail, raising many questions - but providing no clear, unequivocal answers.