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'Confessions' Of A Woman Obsessed

We may wish our ex-lovers would do the decent thing and move to Bolivia after the breakup, but then how to explain the nights we're up decoding their blogs to determine if they've forgotten us, or the very slow drives past their houses? Those who have indulged in such behavior might find themselves growing uncomfortable reading Gail Hareven's story of romantic obsession, The Confessions of Noa Weber.

From the moment Noa met Alek, she was stripped of her dignity. He signaled from across the room, beckoning her with two fingers, as one would a dog, and she heeled. Almost 30 years later, she is admitting to all of the humiliating details, from her decision as a teen to keep his child because she thought he'd then have to stay, to her ongoing mad dashes to Moscow whenever he called. Noa — a Jerusalem-based novelist who writes "feminist fairy tales" starring the powerful, independent, crime-fighting Nira Woolf — is now telling her story of Alek "because only in this way can I exorcise the demon."

Hareven, one of Israel's finest writers, has a keen insight into how a toxic relationship can consume a woman. Noa never seems pathetic; she's too sympathetic and self-aware. She has her blind spots, obviously, but through her, Hareven examines the tension between a secret life and a public persona, how we hide things from our female friends and how we feed our obsessions until they take over our lives.

Despite Hareven's renown as a prolific novelist, playwright and short story author, The Confessions of Noa Weber — winner of Israel's prestigious Sapir Prize — is her first work to appear in English. It's not a casual read; Hareven's insights into desperate yearning are so dead on and painfully astute, the experience can be eviscerating. That the work is also witty and compelling will leave American readers, encountering Hareven for the first time, almost certainly pining for more.

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Jessa Crispin