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Book Review: The Woman Beyond the Sea – Sarit Yishai-Levi

A novel that explores family, grief, trauma and identity, The Woman Beyond the Sea, by Tel Aviv-based author Sarit Yishai-Levi, interrogates family history through three generations
of women.

Covering the lives of Lily, Rachel, and Eliya, this novel is a stunningly sensitive historical work of fiction tackling the piecing together of these three resilient women who set out to find
each other.

Eliya, the youngest of the three, just had her heart broken by her narcissistic husband, Ari. Lily, mother to Eliya, grew up in a Christian convent and though she lost her son when he was still a baby, she spends more time by his graveside than with her living daughter. Both Eliya and Lily feel abandoned by their mothers. Rachel, Lily’s mother, was abandoned by her parents after deciding to marry Gabriel at such a young age and was forced into harrowing situations that made her feel that she had no choice but to give up her daughter.

This is a tale that sees the trickle down effect of abandonment, causing insufferable hurt for all concerned. Using a narrative structure that gives each of the three characters a voice through their dedicated chapters, with the occasional chapter focusing on the perspective of Shaul (Lily’s husband) and Eldad (Eliya’s partner), Yishai-Levi gives each a space for their woes.

Yishai-Levi’s 2015 novel The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem was an international bestseller, and after reading The Woman Beyond the Sea, I doubt Beauty Queen will be her only acclaimed novel. Yishai-Levi, with the aid of translator Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann, entices the reader to swim to the end of this chronicle.

The Woman Beyond the Sea by Sarit Yishai-Levi is out on 21st March, published by Amazon Crossing

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