Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Dead Man by Nora Gold

The Dead Man is a compelling novel about a woman who is obsessed.

Eve, a composer of sacred music and a music therapist, is well aware of the saying, "Physician, heal thyself," but she just can't seem to do this. For some unknown reason, she -- a sensible, intelligent professional -- can't recover from a brief relationship she had five years ago with a world-famous music critic named Jake. This obsession with Jake is a mystery to Eve's friends, and also to her.

In an attempt to solve this mystery, she "returns to the scene of the crime", Israel, where Jake still lives, and where they first fell in love. There she revisits all their old haunts and struggles to complete the song cycle she started composing five years ago about Jake but hasn't been able to finish. Gradually the dark mystery behind their complex relationship begins to unravel.

Eve discovers the forgotten childhood memories, losses, and desires that are encapsulated in her connection to Jake. And then, inspired by all the music she hears around her (including the singing of birds, the crying of babies, and the honking of cars), she succeeds in finally completing her song cycle and setting her obsession to rest.

I was enthralled by this book and read it in a couple of days.  Written with an intensity worthy of the obsession and introspection that the protagonist exhibits. Dr. Gold has created a book filled with love, longing and loss.

Set in Israel, the descriptions are rich in atmosphere and give a real sense of being there. Dr. Gold has used music as a means of demonstrating Eve's intensity and emotional depth as well as an understanding of the significance that Israel itself has upon her.

Initially, I was confused by the title but eventually it made sense and sums up everything that the novel is about. I felt very satisfied by the end of the book. I don't want to say more and thus give the ending away but ultimately I felt uplifted and sanguine by this book.

I think that this book will remain with me for a long time. It is impossible to read a book so laced with emotional pain and not feel affected. However, the path of self discovery throughout the book is sensitively portrayed and made me consider how there are times in the lives of us all when we are able to find an inner strength when we think we have none.

This is the first time I have read any of Dr. Gold's writing and am delighted to find a 'new to me' author who writes with such intelligence, sensitivity and passion. I am very much looking forward to reading more of her work.

Sadly, this book does not seem to be available here in the UK but is available in USA and Canada.

ISBN:  978-1771332613


About the Author:

Nora Gold is a prize winning author and the editor of the prestigious online literary journal, Jewish Fiction.net. Her novel Fields of Exile won the 2015 Canadian Jewish Literary Award and received widespread acclaim, including from Cynthia Ozick. Gold's first book, Marrow and Other Stories, won a Canadian Jewish Book Award (1999) and the title story was praised by Alice Munro. Dr. Gold lives in Toronto, where she is the Writer-in-Residence and an Associate Scholar at the Centre for Women's Studies in Education, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

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