(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Divided into two parts, “Winter” and “Spring,” A Perfect Peace begins in the winter of 1965 and ends at the beginning of 1967. Although Yonatan Lifshitz is the central character, almost all the other main characters help to carry the story forward by their thoughts or their writings or a combination of these. The principal action occurs in and around Kibbutz Granot, a collective settlement in Israel. Yonatan has lived in the kibbutz all of his life and now, at the age of twenty-six, he plans to leave his wife and home. Having long felt hemmed in by the kibbutz and by his years in the army, he longs to be free to do what he wants, though he cannot say for certain what that is. He has already hinted to his father how discontented he is, and before very long he tells his wife, the quiet and passive Rimona, that he will be leaving. Rimona has taken to dreaming yearningly of faraway places and great natural beauties; this longing is probably a consequence of her having recently suffered the birth of a stillborn child, her second failed pregnancy.

Into the life of Kibbutz Granot, and especially the lives of Yonatan and Rimona, comes Azariah Gitlin. Azariah is a young man who sometimes seems little more than a boy, although he is old enough to have survived the Holocaust, wandered across Western Europe, read widely (but not necessarily deeply), and served a number of years in the Israeli army. Seeking a home, companionship, and a family, he asks to be admitted into the kibbutz. In a short time he makes a place for himself there, although at first he is considered a nuisance and a bore. Almost without knowing what is taking place as it...

(The entire section is 677 words.)