A Wall of Light


256 pages
ISBN 0-679-31353-2
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by June M. Blurton

June M. Blurton is a retired speech/language pathologist.


A family of five are at the centre of this novel, the third of a trilogy
that includes Ten Thousand Lovers (2003) and Look for Me (2004). The
story is set in Israel, but not all of the characters are native-born.
Anna, the grandmother, was an actress in the Soviet Union in the 1950s
who later fled to Israel with her son, Kostyn. Her letters to Andrei,
her married lover back in Russia, which are dated 1957, tell us about
Kostyn’s childhood, describe how difficult it was to communicate with
Russian citizens during the Cold War, and relate her view of the newly
emerging Israel. Kostyn’s son, Noah, keeps a diary; its excerpts,
written in the 1980s and early ’90s, detail his day-to-day life as he
comes of age and his military service in the Israeli army. Anna’s
32-year-old Israeli-born daughter, Sonya, who became deaf at age 12 due
to a medical mistake and at age 18 was assaulted while attending
university, is a professor of mathematics; it is her story that gives us
a picture of modern-day Israel. During a 24-hour period, Sonya falls in
love and pursues her lover into the dangerous West Bank. Her foray into
this sector leads to a stunning revelation.

Although the stories of each generation alternate throughout the novel,
they are easy to follow and all three have points of interest. The
character of Sonya is less-well-developed than are the others and the
ending is somewhat contrived, but Ravel’s writing style is pleasant
and the book is an enjoyable read.

Ravel won the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize for A Wall of Light.


Ravel, Edeet., “A Wall of Light,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17003.