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Table of Contents
“Study for Obedience” by Sarah Bernstein is a haunting and thought-provoking novel that explores themes of guilt, complicity, and displacement. The story follows a nameless narrator who arrives in a remote northern country to take care of her brother’s household, only to face hostility and fear from the local inhabitants. The novel delves into the traumatic legacy of a past event and the narrator’s struggle to understand her place in this enigmatic setting.
About the Author
Sarah Bernstein is a Canadian author residing in the northwest Highlands of Scotland. She was recently recognized as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. Her work includes fiction, poetry, and essays published in various literary journals.
The novel’s central character is the nameless narrator, who moves to the remote northern country to care for her brother’s household. Other characters include the townspeople who exhibit hostility and fear toward her, as well as her ailing brother.
“Study for Obedience” by Sarah Bernstein is a haunting and enigmatic novel that explores themes of identity, guilt, and complicity. The story revolves around a nameless narrator who relocates to a remote northern country to care for her brother’s household. She has been a devoted servant to her siblings since childhood, and this new responsibility seems to come naturally.
However, her arrival in the small town is met with extreme reactions from the local residents. They either hate her or fear her, and she struggles to understand why. Language barriers, cultural differences, and a vague traumatic past event further isolate her. As she tries to make sense of her surroundings, the reader is drawn into a narrative that blurs the lines between personal and collective history.
The narrator’s Jewish heritage and the country’s association with her ancestors raise questions about the Holocaust, although the novel deliberately leaves the setting and history ambiguous. The story prompts readers to ponder whether it should be interpreted as a fable or a commentary on the modern world.
Throughout the novel, the prose is sharp and lyrical, creating an atmosphere that lingers in the reader’s mind. The narrator’s journey into trauma and survivor’s guilt is depicted with sensitivity, even if the resolution feels rapid and vague.
Study for Obedience” challenges readers to engage with its themes and contemplate the significance of history and identity. It may leave some questions unanswered, but its ability to spark discussion and introspection makes it a valuable addition to contemporary literature. Sarah Bernstein’s novel is a thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of human existence and the enigmatic nature of history.
“Study for Obedience” follows a woman who becomes the housekeeper for her brother in a remote northern country. As she grapples with a traumatic past event and her Jewish heritage, she encounters extreme reactions from the local townspeople. The novel explores themes of identity, history, and survivor’s guilt. The story’s setting remains intentionally vague, leaving room for interpretation and contemplation.
Sarah Bernstein’s “Study for Obedience” is a compelling and enigmatic novel that takes readers on a journey into the complexities of identity and history. The nameless narrator’s experience in a remote and unfriendly town raises questions about complicity and power, while the novel’s ambiguous setting adds an element of mystery.
The narrative prompts readers to reflect on the blurred lines between personal and collective history, as well as the legacy of the Holocaust. While the novel’s lack of specificity regarding place and history may be frustrating to some, it also invites interpretation and debate. Is this a fable or a commentary on the modern world? The novel’s ability to provoke such questions is a testament to its depth.
The prose in “Study for Obedience” is sharp and lyrical, creating a haunting atmosphere that lingers long after the book is finished. The narrator’s journey into trauma and survivor’s guilt is depicted with sensitivity, even if the resolution feels somewhat rapid and vague.
In many ways, Sarah Bernstein’s novel can be likened to the works of authors like Anna Kavan and VS Naipaul, where dislocation and disorientation play a central role. However, Bernstein’s narrator remains somewhat detached, allowing readers to interpret her experiences in their own way.
Study for Obedience” is a novel that challenges readers to engage with its themes and contemplate the significance of history and identity. It may leave some questions unanswered, but its ability to spark discussion and introspection makes it a valuable addition to contemporary literature.