(From the publisher):
The daughter of a visionary rabbi who dreams of founding his own synagogue and center of learning, Rachel Benjamin lives in an insular environment, seemingly protected from the temptations and freedoms the modern world offers. As the eldest of seven siblings, she is expected to set a moral example within her family and the community: She must wear thick opaque tights with seams; she must never wear a bathing suit in public; she is not to read books in English.
Rachel is a dreamer like her father; but her dreams are of the strong, confident men and the beautiful damsels in distress she reads about in romance novels she sneaks under her blankets at night. She reads the books of Barbara Cartland, Victoria Holt, and Charlotte Brontė, thick paperbacks she buys with her baby-sitting money, or steals from the supermarket, or checks out of the library with a forbidden library card. Secretly she begins to wear sheer stockings to school, concealed under high boots, and takes classes to become a lifeguard. She longs to live not in the dying, desolate community of a bungalow colony in upstate New York, where she can't help but be aware of the presence and allures of the secular world surrounding her, but in Brooklyn -- in Williamsburgh or Borough Park -- where the Hasidic world is sufficient unto itself and she could more easily be the good Hasidic daughter she is trying to be. Unlike her siblings and friends, Rachel craves the independence she will never have as a Hasidic woman in an arranged marriage. And yet, as her engagement draws inevitably nearer, the strong pulls of family and tradition weigh against the frightening unknown beyond her -- the secular world she knows only through her beloved romance novels.
Original title: The Romance Reader
Genre: Fiction→ General Fiction→ Ethnic And Multicultural→ Jewish