Tag Archives: Dara Horn

Book Diva Review: A Guide for the Perplexed

a guide for the perplexed a novel A Guide for the Perplexed: A Novel, by Dara Horn is a book that is ambitious in structure and story.

I enjoyed Ms. Horn’s previous books, and that is why I was interested in reading this one, especially her book “In the Image”.

The book fluctuates within time periods, offering the reader a scope of then and now, the philosophical and remembrance. Judaism is a significant force within the pages. Maimonides and his philosophies play a large role within the stories that encapsulate the novel.

I did not like the characters, they didn’t speak to me. I didn’t find myself interested in, or caring about them, which was a big minus for me. I read to feel something positive or illuminating about the characters, not to be disinterested in them.

The story lines (there are more than one) left me feeling a bit empty. To me, Ms. Horn took on a large challenge, and couldn’t quite fulfill it. The stories within the story did not mesh, in my opinion.

The story line reflecting the digital age and all it seemingly encompasses, seemed a bit redundant to me. There wasn’t anything enlightening or timely/updating, as far as data. I liked the philosophical aspect, especially regarding memory and destiny. Those issues were not enough to stir my interests until the end of the book.

I realize the author was trying to depict issues regarding family relationships, free will, nostalgia, an analogy to the story of Joseph, and memory and history, within the pages. To that end, she did succeed in having me ponder the differences between history and memory.

Memory is how we remember occurrences, which is not always how the happened. History, as written through the ages, is what actually occurred at a given time.

The word imagery was excellent, and I could see the visuals before me. It wasn’t enough, though, to involve me in the characters and their endeavors and lives.

Although I was disenchanted with A Guide for the Perplexed: A Novel, will I read a future book by Dara Horn? Most definitely.

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In the Image, by Dara Horn

“Accidents of fate are rarely fatal accidents, but once in a while they are.”

In The Image is one of those books that evolves through the characters’ coming of age, journeying towards peace and acceptance, and sojourning towards spiritual identity. One young girl (Leora)l learns to accept the death of her best friend, through the slide images of her best friend’s grandfather. Leora learns to overcome her fear of loss and allows herself to fall in love.

The grandfather (Bill Landsmann) learns to accept his own life, which is built frame by frame, upon his slides, through the images he has photographed during his travels. His life has been preserved on film slides. Landsmann has to learn to leave his past behind, including his childhood and his abusive father. He must learn to accept, and to let go, and not just assimilate within the fabrics of New York City. For him the images represent his life, concrete proof of his childhood in Europe, and proof he existed. Landsmann has to learn to move forward, in order to find the spiritual identity and peace he is searching for.

Leora and Landsmann lean on each other, each one helping the other to overcome their fears, each one helping to free the other from their self-imposed emotional isolation.

The symbolism and undertones in this novel are strong, and leave one in awe. The images are clearly defined through Dara Horn’s words. Age is a state of mind, a number we define ourselves with, but one can be 70 and still be coming of age. This book touches on coming of age, for all age groups.

~~Book Diva

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