Book Review | Sima’s Undergarments for Women
Author: Ilana Stranger-Ross
I often worry when I write my reviews that I’m going to drive readers crazy if I talk about how much I love books by Canadian writers or my attraction to quirky books. When I was given the opportunity to read and review Sima’s Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stranger-Ross, I thought I’d be talking about both a great deal but found that I couldn’t have been more wrong!
In both cases my original feelings about this novel were partially right but there was much more to both than I could have imagined! Ilana Stranger-Ross is a Canadian writer in that she does live and write in Canada; however, her years of living in Brooklyn obviously have had a tremendous impact on her writing as her novel is set in Brooklyn. She has an obvious affection for this setting as well – I’ve never been to Brooklyn but I love the descriptions of the setting and the community members that are woven into the story. Stranger-Ross’ writing is so vivid, in fact, that by the end of the novel I had almost felt as if I’d been to Brooklyn!
I was also drawn to the novel, originally, because I thought it would be quirky. Again, I was partially correct but the novel transcends this shallow description. The novel focuses on Sima, an older Jewish woman who runs a lingerie shop for women in a her basement shop in a Brooklyn neighbourhood. After a chance encounter with Timna, a young and beautiful Israeli woman who is living in Brooklyn while she waits for her boyfriend to get out of the military, Sima brings Timna in as an employee in the shop. Throughout the story, the reader learns about Sima’s marriage, her dreams of children that were never fulfilled because she was unable to conceive and her attraction to Timna. The relationship between the women is complex – Sima often admires Timna’s beauty and her obvious comfort with her body and sexuality while she also seems to draw Timna in as a surrogate daughter. Like many relationships, the one between these woman draws to its conclusion and I found myself, as a reader, shedding a tear (and I don’t usually cry when I read novels) because the relationship between these women has obviously had an impact on each of them.
Therefore, though the book does involve a Canadian writer, and the characters are quirky in that they are different from those that I find in most novels, Sima’s Undergarments for Women is much more than I ever could have imagined. I have already recommended this book to my friend’s bookclub because I think they will appreciate the care and complexity of the relationship between these women. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a novel about relationships and I plan on recommending it specifically to the strong women in my life because I think they will appreciate it tremendously!
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*