Five Seasons (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Early in Five Seasons there is a reference to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813), where harried Mr. Bennet has the problem of disposing of five marriageable daughters. Assuming the mantle of an Israeli Jane Austen, A. B. Yehoshua in Five Seasons portrays a middle-aged widower with an even more difficult problem: disposing of himself. For Molkho, a husband’s fantasy comes true: His wife dies of cancer, leaving him free to pursue other women. And why not? While caring for his wife during the seven years of her illness, he has faithfully abstained from sex. Nevertheless, in his encounters with five different women in the five seasons after his wife’s death, Molkho’s efforts to be wedded or bedded come to naught, although abetted by most of the women themselves, not to mention various hard-working matchmakers (including his mother and former mother-in-law) and even the state of Israel. Along the way, like Jane Austen, Yehoshua prolongs the suspense with shrewd character studies, cunning observations of manners, and deadly satire—all served up with post-Freudian psychological insight. (Not incidentally, Yehoshua, a literature teacher at the University of Haifa, is himself married to a psychoanalyst.)
In an opening reminiscent of Albert Camus’s L’Etranger (1942; The Stranger, 1946), Molkho’s wife conveniently dies in the novel’s first sentence, and soon other women are sizing him up at her...
(The entire section is 1897 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Booklist. LXXXV, January 1, 1989, p.753.
Chicago Tribune. February 12, 1989, XIV, p.5.
Kirkus Reviews. LVI, November 15, 1988, p.1638.
Library Journal. CXIII, December, 1988, p.135.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. February 26, 1989, p.2.
The New Republic. CC, February 27, 1989, p.34.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIV, January 29, 1989, p.1.
The New Yorker. LXV, March 6, 1989, p.111.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIV, December 2, 1988, p.44.
The Times Literary Supplement. October 6, 1989, p.1103.
The Washington Post Book World. XIX, February 5, 1989, p.7.
(The entire section is 66 words.)