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Teatime for Good Girls

Shula Modan

When Rachel arrives with her husband from Lodz to the Mandatory Land of Israel, under British administration, in order to set up a kosher Jewish home, she brings a number of elegant suits and hats, a pack of recipes for dishes of Polish cuisine and endless memories and nostalgia that torment her soul. Bound by tradition, Rachel tries to run her modest, petit-bourgeois home in Tel Aviv of the 1930s and 40s, in accordance with “what is appropriate” and “what will the neighbors say.” She fulfils her duty as a housewife and a respectable woman and does not permit herself to partake of even the simplest pleasures of life. She is constantly distressed by the chasm between the young, torrid city, through which the wind of abandon is blowing, and the restraint and cultivation of her Polish upbringing.  
Rachel’s three children struggle, each in their own way, with their mother’s strict upbringing. Motl, who since his childhood has been known for his mischievousness and jocularity, abandons his studies and plunges into the new and exciting world, in which there are also girls, especially one, both educated and beautiful, haughty and self-disciplined young woman, whose character is – ironically – similar to that of Rachel. His sister, Rivkah, a “good” and obedient girl, gives in without a fight to the match that her parents have made for her with an uncouth and obtuse man. And as for Hayaleh, the youngest daughter, she is creative and rebellious and longs to break away from her home, to live the life that her mother didn’t dare to try. She finds a boyfriend from a kibbutz, only to discover later that the same boundaries that restricted her are also etched inside her.
Shula Modan brilliantly conveys the spirit of the period. With great psychological sensitivity she weaves the story of a family that is at a crossroad, with its members struggling to choose between independence and external temptations on the one hand, and, on the other, stifling conservatism of remaining on the beaten, rigid paths.



REVIEWS

There is a captivating magic in Teatime for Good Girls … The book summons up an absolute nostalgic surrender, and rewards the reader for it. It transported me to another period, both historical and literary, and immersed me within it … The book maintains – and this is its prime virtue – a strict coherence between content and form.

Omri Herzog, Haaretz

 

Shula Modan is one of those enviable people who seem to understand what it is to be Israeli a little better and a little more accurately than others … A pleasantly flowing book … Shula Modan serves up rich folklore in simple language, in colors that bring back to life an entire period and allusions that build bridges between then and now. 

Ran Bin-Nun, Yedioth Ahronoth

 

Teatime for Good Girls accurately, vividly, humorously and compassionately displays the abundance of possibilities that the heroes face and the prices  they pay for their choices …Shula Modan writes in superb language that reminded me of the stories of Shalom Aleichem that I loved to read as a child … A lovely novel that deals mainly with inner freedom, our boundaries, and to what extent we are able to truly break through them. A story that happens in the 1930s but is entirely relevant today. Warmly recommended.   

Shlomit Lica, Saloona

 

I gulped this book down in a few days, as I was gradually captivated by its magic…. Life in Tel Aviv in the third decade of the last century … that can be no less engrossing as adventure stories, if one only knows how to tell about them, and Shula Modan, it emerges, knows only too well … Masterfully, Modan unfolds a depiction of the everyday lives of her characters, their weaknesses, their fears, the anxiety over what “they” will say … and this is all the magic – lives that we have not really known about … This ability, to open a window onto an unfamiliar world, one that is actually right here, is a wonderful and riveting ability, and this book is absolutely to be recommended to anyone who wants to become acquainted with and to know what used to be here, and to all booklovers in general.     

Iris Ganor, Literary Blog

 

A period piece, sensitive and charming, depicting Tel Aviv before the establishment of the state.

Hagit Galatzer, Seatelon



Title Teatime for Good Girls
Author’s Last Name Modan
Author's First Name Shula
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Modan
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2016
No. Pages 373 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Mesiba Li-Yeladot Tovot
Representation Represented by ITHL
 
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