More than halfway through this novel, Noa Weber says, “I never chose to love Alek.” Does anyone ever choose to love someone? Novelists, poets, psychologists, and modern self-help gurus have written much on love, but no one can explain why we fall in love with a particular person. In this novel, Israeli author Gail Hareven tells the story of one woman’s obsessive love for one man.
The Confessions of Noa Weber reads more like the two lives of Noa Weber, a woman who becomes a successful lawyer and then, a detective novelist. Noa’s alter ego in her books is Nira Wolf, a strong willed and savvy detective whose personal life is quite the opposite of Noa’s. From the age of seventeen, Noa has been obsessively in love with the Russian emigrant Alek, who fathers her child and then leaves her, only to take up with another woman and father two more children.
The novel is unapologetic about Noa’s obsession with the narcissist Alek. Noa makes no excuses for loving a man who leaves her once she has had their baby daughter and seldom provides any paternal care for the child, a pattern he will repeat with his next lover. Noa waits for Alek to call or appear and she runs to him for sexual trysts that seem anything but lover’s reunions. At times she tries to understand her obsession but eventually accepts her situation with Alek and lives the life of the mistress, even though she is legally married to him.
One wonders if Noa realizes that her detective novel character Nira Wolf is physically a copy of Alek’s next lover and mother of his two sons. Does Noa have the capacity for insight and self analysis? What drives this bright, accomplished woman to enslave herself to someone who can never give her a complete life?
Against the backdrop of a modern Israel, Noa Weber is a player in a bigger drama. This is a personal story of struggle between the inner life and outer life and integration into a society that is also struggling to reconcile its changing identity.
Barbara Andrews holds a Masters in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago, has been an adult Jewish education instructor, and works in the corporate world as a professional adult educator.