The Con­fes­sions of Noa Weber

Gail Hareven; Dalya Bilu, trans.
  • Review
By – December 20, 2011
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.

Discussion Questions