An Observant Wife: A Novel

by Naomi Ragen

Book, 2021



Call number




St. Martin's Press (2021), 352 pages


In this rich and compassionate novel,An Observant Wife, Naomi Ragen continues the love story between newly observant California-girl Leah and ultra-Orthodox widower Yaakov fromAn Unorthodox Match. From the joy of their wedding day surrounded by supportive friends and family, Yaakov and Leah are soon plunged into the complex reality of their new lives together as Yaakov leaves his beloved yeshiva to work in the city, and Leah confronts the often agonizing restrictions imposed by religious laws governing even the most intimate moments of their married lives. Adding to their difficulties is the hostility of some in the community who continue to view Leah as a dangerous interloper, questioning her sincerity and adherence to religious laws and spreading outrageous rumors. In the midst of their heartfelt attempts to reach a balance between their human needs and their spiritual obligations, the discovery of a secret, forbidden relationship between troubled teenage daughter Shaindele and a local boy precipitates a maelstrom of life-changing consequences for all.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member froxgirl
A sequel to An Unorthodox Match, this novel can also stand on its own. It will be especially meaningful for those readers who are intrigued by Orthodox Jewish customs as they exist in the cultural prison of Boro Park, Brooklyn. Leah, who was not born into the life, had fallen in love with Yaakov, a
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widower with five children, whose wife had suffered from mental illness and taken her own life. As the novel opens, they are marrying, and Leah, already subject to the contempt of the Judgy McJudgeface neighborhood, scandalizes those who peer into her window and see her dancing to rock music with the two youngest children and without a head covering. It gets worse when Shaindel, seventeen and eldest daughter, sneaks around with the bad boy son of a rabbi, unsupervised. Each chapter is a crisis due to the unforgiving nature of the community. It's melodramatic but well written and full of condemnation for the rigidity of the religious life, while still interjecting some joy from the true nature of what HaShem (literally, the name of God) expects and rewards.
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LibraryThing member shazjhb
Excellent book. Bit difficult reading about Boro Park. There are bad apples in every society. However, this was a sweet love story - actually love stories.
LibraryThing member Bookish59
Leah, a Baalat T'shuva, marries Yaakov, and becomes step-mom to his 5 children. She is excited about becoming part of the orthodox Borough Park community in Brooklyn. But while she loves Yaakov, and the children, she finds some of the religious restrictions grating. She also is way too busy running
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a household, and working as a graphic artist to have the fun she is accustomed to. She is also concerned about Yaakov's dissatisfaction working full-time instead of learning Torah at a Kollel which he loved doing.

17-year old Shaindel is having a hard time processing her mother's death, feeling guilty she starts questioning her faith in G-d who permitted it to happen. She lets her religious guard down, allowing her growing curiousity about young men make her believe that Duvie, her school principal's son, will help calm and heal her restive spirit. Before long she realizes that Duvie is not mature or caring, nor able to help her with her problems.

Soon the family's issues attract the community's attention but rather than offer help, many neighbors and acquaintances exaggerate and spread rumors that make matters worse. Leah is appalled and hurt; Yaakov shocked. They agree to get counseling for Shaindel hoping this will help end the brouhaha circling their family., they end up being pushed down a rabbit hole.

If intrigued I suggest you read this novel to learn what happens to this beautiful family. You will not be disappointed.
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Physical description

352 p.; 9.64 inches


1250260078 / 9781250260079
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