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Publishers Weekly, 2003-05-12 Two Orthodox Jewish matchmakers strive busily to marry off their neighbors in this bustling debut novel set in modern-day Jerusalem. Tsippi, who works the counter of her husband's grocery store, is always on the lookout for promising single shoppers, even as her own marriage begins to show signs of wear. Judy, a glamorous mother of six, fits in her matchmaking around her studies at a yeshiva for women, where she is taking Torah classes, looking for deeper meaning in life. Both take a stab at setting up 39-year-old Beth, a staunchly independent Orthodox woman from the U.S. who has gone on more first dates than she can count. Now her possibilities are beginning to dwindle, and to make matters worse, she is troubled by a crisis of faith. When Tsippi sends her on a date with Akiva, a house painter and student of the Torah, Beth is hopeful, but Akiva is afflicted by a disconcerting twitch. A date with arrogant Binyamin, one of Judy's clients, is even more discouraging. Binyamin is a handsome American artist, a newcomer to observant Judaism, but none of the women he dates are good enough for him: as he puts it, "A beauty, dammit, that's what he wanted. Attractive wouldn't do." King tracks the dating fates of Beth, Akiva and Binyamin, but pays equal attention to their spiritual searching. Her attention to minor variations in levels of orthodoxy makes the book a sociological study of sorts ("he went to a very religious black-hat hareidi yeshiva, yet from the look of him he seemed two steps removed from that world"), but her richly detailed descriptions of Jerusalem (the reader can almost smell the falafel frying) and her sympathetic characters make this a fully realized novel. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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