Author: Zahava D, Englard
Publisher: Gefen Publishing House
"We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone."
Zahava D. Englard has plotted with her debut novel, The Gilboa Iris a tense deeply felt and full realized tale of doomed love, deceit, betrayal, loyalty, international intrigue, and evil. It is a story that ventures deep into the heart of love gained and love lost.
The narrative begins in 1983 on an Israeli kibbutz located on Mount Gilboa bordering Lebanon and features an eighteen year old beautiful American, Dara Harrow who before returning to the USA to pursue her studies at Columbia University has decided to devote one year of her life to living and working on the kibbutz. Dara had an agreement with her folks that after the year was up she would absolutely return to her home base.
Her father is a rocket physicist employed by the US department of defense and her mother is a professor of art and an artist who apparently place their own lives and interests before their own child.
Dara, however, did not count on falling madly in love with a brash Israeli, Aharon (Roni) Ben-Ari and his feeling for her is just as intense. When the time comes to return home, Dara faces quite a predicament forcing her into a dual-loyalty anxiety, where she would have to decide if she should remain in Israel with her fiancé or break the promise she had made with her parents, who, incidentally, were not ecstatic about her relationship with Roni. Moreover, due to her father's position with the defense department, his position would be compromised if his daughter were to remain in Israel.
Along the way we learn that Roni is not exactly whom he claims to be and keeps a deep secret from Dara that will force the couple to break up. At the same time this is happening, Dara faces an horrific tragedy that will have an everlasting effect on her.
Dara is strong willed and moves on with her life eventually marrying a wealthy Israeli and the couple have three beautiful children. Unfortunately, her life will once again become a nightmare that almost pushes her off the cliff.
What Englard has attempted and to a large extent pulled off is a challenging combination of eternal love as well as a general slice of the Israeli condition as seen by the author. It is a novel that is alive in every sense wherein many of the scenes are rich in detail and incident as a result of the of the unbelinking depiction of Israeli's who face daily tragedies at the hands of murderous terrorists living among their midst that think little of slaughtering men, women and children and are honoured by their leaders as heroes. And although at times it slides into to many mushy love scenes, it is nonetheless impossible to put down.
(I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)