This is the touching story of Maricika, a quiet Romanian seamstress who arrived - one of tens of thousands of immigrants - in Israel during the 1950s. Delicately, gently, with empathy and a talent for surprisingly precise description, Altaras tells the story of this simple, unexceptional woman in her 30s who decided to take control of her fate and emigrate to Israel on her own.
Like many of the European immigrants during this period, full of hopes and dreams, Maricika faces a rather drab, gray reality that is both provincial and alienating. She remains alone, outside the Israeli experience. But she is tenacious, even a minor heroine who achieves her small dream - to start a family and make her living sewing for an exclusive clientele. She is determined to do this even if it means paying a high price. She sews a line of fashionable women's wear and sleeps with a photographer in exchange for a professional set of photos. Later she becomes involved with a lonely Romanian immigrant as alienated as she, who sees the talented seamstress as an economic opportunity. Maricika has no illusions. She consciously enters a marriage of convenience to a man she does not love, but who purchases her a sewing machine and fathers her much beloved only son.
Maricika's tale is told by her son, writer Alon Altaras, who turns this personal story into a moving and valuable work of literature. Maricika is a brave feminist; she manages to raise her son in a loving and warm atmosphere in spite of her emotionally barren husband who spends his time with his "castle-in-the-sky" business affairs. His apathy towards his son, his disregard for his emotional needs and his neglect of the boy's epilepsy all lead to Maricika's secret revenge. In her final days, when she and her husband move into a retirement home, Maricika decides to finally cut herself off from her unloving husband and have a room of her own. She will grow old in dignity. The term "a room of your own," coined by Virginia Woolf gains new meaning here.
English translation available (for publishers only)