I am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits, narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Hogarth Books, both imprints of Random House
From the publisher:
Sweeping from the Central European countryside just before World War II to Paris to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I Am Forbidden brings to life four generations of one Satmar family.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live.
When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters makes force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.
Thoughts on the story:
There are times early on in I am Forbidden when the reader may wonder exactly what is going on and have trouble following the threads of relationship. By the time the family moves to Williamsburg, however, Marouk’s narrative straightens itself out and becomes increasingly engaging. That Satmar society is not one I am familiar with, and it was fascinating to learn more about them through Mila and Atara and their differing views on their faith. Markovits seems to be very respectful of the culture, even when he seems to disagree with some of the specifics – or at least his characters do. As a result, I am Forbidden is filled with genuine emotion and a quiet drama.
Thoughts on the audio production:
In I am Forbidden Rosalyn Landor is, as always, fabulous. She brings poise and a quiet dignity to the story, which works very well with the world Markovits creates. Landor is one of those narrators I could simply sit and listen to for hours, she’s just that good, and I am Forbidden is no exception.
For more on the audio production, please see my review for Audiofile Magazine.
I am Forbidden is a lovely, quiet novel that works very well in audio, largely thanks to Rosalyn Landor’s performance. Recommended.
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