The Lawgiver

Simon and Schuster  2012

 

Herman Wouk brought overtly Jewish themes to popular fiction with Marjorie Morningstar in 1955. Now, more than fifty years later—in his 98th year!—comes his most Jewish novel yet, a romp of a story about moviemaking whose characters are almost all Jews.

An eccentric billionaire wants to underwrite a Hollywood film about Moses and turns to a famed author named Herman Wouk for his imprimatur. The likely writer-director, Margolit Solovei, used to be romantically involved with Joshua Lewin, who happens to be legal counsel to the film’s would-be producer. Will the money come through? Can Margo write a blockbuster screenplay that stays true to the Bible? Will Josh be able to rekindle their romance? This is an ingratiating entertainment that doesn’t need suspense to hold the reader’s interest from start to finish.

Wouk was married for 63 years to “BSW,” Betty Sarah Wouk, who died in 2011. She too plays a role in The Lawgiver, acting as her husband’s canny literary agent much as she did in life. The book’s epilogue contains a photograph of her that she sent her future husband while he was at sea in World War II. This winning novel is also a touching tribute to a lifelong love.



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