Sima's Undergarments for Women

Sima's Undergarments for Women

There are some life-long quests that all women have in common-meaningful work, true love, and a bra that doesn't leave red marks on your skin.

With a gracefulness evocative of Amy Bloom and Alice McDermott, prizewinning writer Ilana Stanger-Ross has created a secret underground New York sisterhood where women of every shape and creed can come to share their milestones, laughter, loves, and losses against a backdrop of discount lingerie.In the comfort of her Brooklyn basement bra shop, Sima Goldner teaches other women to appreciate their bodies, but feels betrayed by her own.

Shamed by her infertility and a secret from her youth, she has given up on happiness and surrendered to a bitter marriage.

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The improbably named twenty-year-old Timna (Timna is an ancient biblical city its like naming your child Bethlehem) is a beautiful Israeli woman who ends up working in Simas store. The fact that we dont get much of a sense of Simas inner life, despite continual recounting of her painful struggles with infertility and her desperate wish for a child, doesnt help. Other than Timnas beauty and apparent charisma and charm (in sixty-odd years of living Simas never met anyone like this?), its also unclear what role Timna might play in inviting or allowing this. In fact, she is described as being Orthodox in the early years of her marriage with no sense that this was new to her; I have to assume it was merely a continuation of her upbringing. Gradually Sima and her husband are described as drifting from Orthodoxy, a rather undramatic transition which consists entirely of cessation of their synagogue attendance.

Reading Ilana Stanger-Ross's debut novel Sima's Undergarments for Women is an exercise in anxiety, primarily because the reader is so thoroughly immersed in main character Sima Goldner's uncertain, self-conscious thoughts. Stanger-Ross writes in third-person narrative, but the novel's voice is so completely Sima's that it seems as though she narrates herself. Stanger-Ross delves deep into Sima's psyche, as well as the history of her marriage, in this novel.

Der Roman berichtet davon, wie die Anwesenheit von Timna starken Einfluß auf Sima ausübt, in Rückblenden von Simas Leben und von den Kundinnen des Miederwarengeschäfts. weil sie es gegenüber ihrem Mann nicht zugeben konnte, dass sie ein einziges Mal gegen die Anstandsregeln für jüdische Mädchen verstoßen hatte). Sima ist traurig und einsam und erkennt, dass sie im Leben (speziell gegenüber ihrem Mann) auch viele Fehler gemacht hat, dennoch ist sie für mich kein sympathischer Charakter.

why would we pick up books we might just like "okay"?) I don't know why, but I expected it to be funny rather than sad. Timna is not just an employee but both an ersatz daughter and an object of physical desire (though the latter is never discussed or acknowledged--it's there.) Sima's relationship with Lev is complex as well, after 46 years of marriage. (And the same is true with Lev--like Sima, we mostly just saw him upstairs reading or eating.) I'll be thinking about this one and it's complex relationships and characters for a while and may even revise my rating up a bit when I've had more time to process it.

It is a book that you at first think is devoid of love, of hope, but you learn that the very strongest love is present, no matter the terrible things that have happened. I wondered through the story, if Sima was attracted to Timna because she wished to be her mother (seems obvious), because she has the carefree type of life Sima started to have, but was cut short, (a little less obvious) or was there a sexual attraction the Sima couldn't admit (obscure, but there, I think).

Given that Sima lives in an ultra-orthodox section of Brooklyn, it is not surprising that she would have such a narrow view of what it means to be a woman. Lots of thoughts about the setting: Perfect place for a womans story; liberated women burned their bras the women who frequent Simas shop still define themselves in terms of their shape, and obsess about that.

But she becomes totally obsessed with a young woman, Timna, from Israel who works for her. Although Sima is childless and we think that her maternal instincts might kick in in wanting to take care of and protect Timna, it's really an unhealthy relationship in the book (at least that is how I felt about it).

Sima is an older Jewish woman in New York. When the seamstress leaves, she encounters a new, young Jewish woman, Timna, recently arrived in the U.S. from Israel.

It's not a happy book and I really disliked Sima.

  • English

  • Fiction

  • Rating: 3.23
  • Pages: 304
  • Publish Date: February 5th 2008 by Overlook Hardcover
  • Isbn10: 1590200896
  • Isbn13: 9781590200896