E(sther) M(asserman) Broner Jane Larkin Crain - Essay

Jane Larkin Crain

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[A Weave of Women] is set in modern Israel. In episodic fashion, through a combination of allegory, biblical allusions, impressionistic sketches of character and action, and a bit of straightforward storytelling, it deals with the exploits and tribulations of 12 women gathered together in a commune in the Old City of Jerusalem….

As Mrs. Broner's irksome enterprise proceeds, she demands that the reader accept a vision of Everywoman as shackled by the chains of cultural oppression, with an emphasis on the particular degradations she finds inherent in Jewish traditions…. Gynecologists, politicians, police move in and out of the novel, stick-figures in the author's overwrought fantasies about the sorry lot of womankind. As each of the book's females suffers her prescribed indignity at the hands of some man, all gather to perform homemade rituals of "healing," with their array of embarrassing sounds and spectacles.

Despite a certain narrative drive, "A Weave of Women" is an essentially silly book, stuffed with all the cant of contemporary sexual politics. In the process, it reduces religion to second-rate anthropology, and most of the other important things in this world to a mockery.

Jane Larkin Crain, "Three Novels: 'A Weave of Women'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1978 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), August 13, 1978, p. 26.