The Fragile Mistress is a dark and penetrating look at pre-1967 Israel and Palestine through the eyes of 14 year old Liana Bialik. After her American father's suicide, Liana's Jerusalem-born mother decides to take Liana and her sister back to her homeland, where her family has lived for four generations. Liana feels overwhelmed and suffocated by her mother and begins to reach out. More
The Fragile Mistress tells the story of an adolescent girl in Israel in the early '60s. Her character's mother had grown up in British Mandate Palestine, one of several factors making the memory bank of this book so rich -- appropriate for a place with almost too much history to bear and retain one's sanity at the same time.
What is most memorable is the sense of place, bright yet frightening Jerusalem and the countryside around it. Also filling the book is the hope, love, hate and fatalism of people, both Israelis and Palestinians, who live together yet apart in a thin, rocky corridor shaded by old gray-green olive trees.
Perhaps above all, the novel, told with restraint and poetic precision, is about how we soldier on with the weight of history and family on our shoulders.