[by David Wallace]
Sima’s Undergarments for Women: A Novel by Ilana Stanger-Ross. Penguin Books, New York, NY. PB. 320 pages. $15.00.
From the first page author Ilana Stanger-Ross introduces us to an intimate world, both exotic and banal, where women rule. Actually, one woman rules and that is Sima.
Sima is trapped in a comfortable but tepid marriage of 46 years with Lev. She is a non-observant Jew in an Orthodox neighborhood. Her business is her lifeline – the one thing that helps her survive.
Into her tightly- framed world comes Timna, an Israeli in her early 20’s. She is everything that Sima is not: young and daring, with a handsome fiancée named, Alon. Timna makes her feel like “The old witch in the fairytale … selling apples to a young beauty.” (10)
Timna becomes her assistant and Sima’s life is changed forever. In the light of Timna’s youth and beauty, she feels “… her whole life suddenly redeemed, special as seen through Timna’s bright eyes.” (34)
This is not just a simplistic tale of a friendship between two women, however. It is a tale of a marriage gone wrong, a young lady with problems of her own and how they inspire each other to be better than they thought they could be.
This is a complex tale told in simple form that everyone, but particularly women, can identify with. It is a wonderful novel, waiting to be discovered, and I recommend it highly.