Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.
Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.
Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!
***Question for Shelf Control participants: I currently go ahead and add the links for participants’ posts as they’re shared in the comments or via pingbacks. Does this work for you, or would you prefer a system where you add your own links (such as via InLinkz or similar)? Please let me know!**
Title: The Book of V.
Author: Anna Solomon
Length: 320 pages
What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):
Anna Solomon’s kaleidoscopic novel intertwines the lives of a Brooklyn mother in 2016, a senator’s wife in 1970s Washington, D.C., and the Bible’s Queen Esther, whose stories of sex, power and desire overlap and ultimately converge—showing how women’s roles have and have not changed over thousands of years.
Lily is a mother and a daughter. And a second wife. And a writer, maybe? Or she was going to be, before she had children. Now, in her rented Brooklyn apartment, she’s grappling with her sexual and intellectual desires while also trying to manage her roles as a mother and a wife.
Vivian Barr seems to be the perfect political wife, dedicated to helping her charismatic and ambitious husband find success in Watergate-era Washington D.C. But one night he demands a humiliating favor, and her refusal to obey changes the course of her life—along with the lives of others.
Esther is a fiercely independent young woman in ancient Persia, where she and her uncle’s tribe live a tenuous existence outside the palace walls. When an innocent mistake results in devastating consequences for her people, she is offered up as a sacrifice to please the king, in the hopes that she will save them all.
Following in the tradition of The Hours and The Red Tent, The Book of V. is a bold and contemporary investigation into the enduring expectations and restraints placed on women’s lives.
How and when I got it:
I bought the Kindle edition of this book late in 2020.
Why I want to read it:
This is my second week in a row with a historical fiction pick for Shelf Control! So why this particular book?
Dual timeline narratives seem to be everywhere when it comes to historical fiction, particularly novels that focus on women’s lives and societal roles. I can’t say I’ve ever come across a split timeline combining modern women’s lives with Queen Esther before now!
I’ve always loved the story of Queen Esther — as a child, we learned the simplistic version about a good and beautiful queen saving her people. We never did give much thought to the previous queen, Vashti, except to consider her the “bad” queen who came before Esther. Of course, as an adult, I’ve enjoyed more nuanced views of the tale, and especially learning about Vashti as a feminist icon!
The idea of Esther/Vashti as ancient counterparts to contemporary women’s experiences sounds… weird??? But also potentially fascinating. On the surface, it seems like a stretch to me — but I remain interested in seeing how the author balances and contrasts the two stories, and wonder whether it works well or feels forced.
I do think I’ll read this one — maybe I’ll time it just right and read it in time for the holiday of Purim!
What do you think? Would you read this book?
Please share your thoughts!
Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:
- Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
- Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
- Check out other posts, and…