Light Fell

  • Review
February 24, 2012

As I began this book, I thought, How am I ever going to review this?” Light Fell begins with the intense, for­bid­den, yet ful­ly con­sen­su­al love affair between a Juda­ic schol­ar of some note and an illui, a bril­liant Ortho­dox rab­bi. Fallenberg’s prose is beau­ti­ful, his phras­ing per­fect, his allu­sions to Juda­ic lit­er­a­ture and schol­ar­ship impec­ca­ble. And, though the love between these two men is so beau­ti­ful it might even be con­sid­ered holy, it nec­es­sar­i­ly leaves seri­ous destruc­tion in its wake. 

Though I kept want­i­ng to believe in the sanc­ti­ty of love, and in par­tic­u­lar this love, I found myself hat­ing what these two men had done. I, as a moth­er and wife and child, felt the pro­found dev­as­ta­tion of the wives and moth­ers and chil­dren in the sto­ry. As it turns out, so does Fal­l­en­berg. The sto­ry con­tin­ues from the points of view of the fam­i­ly mem­bers, each of whom is affect­ed in very dif­fer­ent, yet seri­ous ways. 

The book takes on a more com­plex ener­gy. A tableau of fam­i­ly rela­tion­ships emerges, which is no longer sim­ply black and white, but many shades of gray. The cen­tral ques­tions of the book shift. You find your­self rec­og­niz­ing that the ques­tion of whether or not you con­done the affair that starts the book is not the main point. The sto­ry becomes one that cen­ters on ques­tions of human­i­ty, for­give­ness, and love. I fin­ished and knew I could review this book. I thought to myself, This is a hero­ic work.”

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