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Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Veronica's Nap" by Sharon Bially ~ Jewish Women Take Note!

Published by:  Connaissance Media
Pages: 236
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction


Summary :

Veronica Berg has everything she needs to achieve her dream of becoming a painter--a charming home studio in Provence, a hardworking husband, and a nanny who watches her two-year-old twins. Yet instead of painting, she spends her days lingering over meaningless chores and secretly indulging in lengthy naps.
When Veronica's Moroccan-born,Sephardic husband grows impatient with her aimlessness and challenges her to sell just one painting, Veronica must find a way to break the seductive rut that's overtaken her ambition and her life. Against the backdrop of the impending Iraq war, her quest triggers a surprising and often comical journey that reveals depression's sunny mask and the dark side of privilege and security.
With a cast of Sehpardic characters, Veronica's Nap gives a rare look at contemporary Jewish life in France.

Telling A Bit About Sharon:

As Authors go, Sharon Bially is a bit self-effacing, which is saying something...  She lived for 12 years in Paris and Aix-en-Provence before settling with her family in Massachusetts.  A graduate of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, she's a public relations professional and leads seminars for the Boston-based nonprofit literary arts organization Grub Street Writers. 

She's also a mother.


The Dame's Review :

This is the kind of book I want to recommend to all of my friends and family.  Sharon Bially has captured the angst of the artist, the struggles of motherhood, the trap of luxury and a coming to grips with growing into our best selves.  What a book, and what an exceptional writer.

I had a professor in art school who came right out of the box the first day of painting class saying, "You can never be a fine artist and be married with children."  Let me tell you, them was fightin' words in the '60's and early '70's to a bunch of women/feminist fine arts students!  Several of us were out to prove that man wrong. 

But, when my children were babies, I had to put away my beautiful brushes, oils and easels, though my sweet husband bought me a huge, gorgeous oak easel to encourage me there would "be a time" for me.

In "Veronica's Nap"  Sharon Bially takes up this question of "when are you going to paint?" Through her characters, Vero and Didier, we witness this struggle for motherhood, art and person hood.  Didier plays the prod with his constant badgering of Veronica to paint, to produce "just one painting" to sell.  It's no surprise that she's backed into the proverbial corner with a shocked and sleeping muse, which she's happy to join in her escapes to la-la-land.  It's also no wonder that she's tripped up by bouts of depression.

Sharon Bially is an author we need to watch.  Her ability to draw characters so likable and real is a literary achievement...particularly since she has her own children! And, her story is one that will resonate with women and men for many different reasons. There is a humorous twist to this book, but it may actually be an irony when taken in context, because in the whole it's not funny when we struggle to push against pressures to achieve and grow. Bially recognizes and conveys these things clearly; she writes her story in such a way that we're drawn chapter after chapter to the end.

This book is grandly universal.  I'm so grateful for that.  I learned so much about Moroccan, Shephardic family customs I wouldn't otherwise have had exposure to.  I enjoy reading about cultures that differ from mine.  "Veronica's Nap" gives us that flavor as well as another look at Provence and French culture.

This is a rich and beautifully tempered novel. In it you'll find ironic humor, tellings of motherhood, artistic sensibilities, marriage and family dynamics. A book you'll breeze through and want to share.


5 truly swirling stars

Deborah/TheBookishDame


Note:  This review is gratefully brought by way of "Pump Up Your Books" for an honest opinion on my part.

2 comments:

bermudaonion

I'm an art lover, so this sounds fabulous to me.

sharon bially

Thanks a million, Deb, you made my day! I' glad you could connect with Veronica and her story. :-)

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