A Guide for the Perplexed
Jonathan Levi’s scintillating narrative explodes like fireworks across the page, undulating sinuously across centuries to weave a tapestry of history, drama, passion, sound and color. The drama reveals itself like three-dimensional tic-tac-toe, drawing connecting lines to the present-day stories of two women stranded in Spain by an airline strike. The themes are both universal and personal: love, loss, music and art, identity, persecution and uprooting. The architecture of the tale is provided by the life of the Spanish Jews during the Golden Age of Maimonides and Ibn Gabirol, followed by their trials during the inquisition, and later those of the European Jews under the Nazis. It is given substance, layer-by-layer, through the life experiences of the two main characters and their ancestors in earlier times. I found Levi’s use of language totally delicious, and I was personally riveted by the story and historical references, as I share the background of all the characters.
We reviewers are always pressed to focus on the latest releases, so a book published in 1993 would have never gotten my attention. I am so glad Overlook Press brought out a new edition, or I would never have discovered this gem of a book.