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Publisher's Summary

In a cramped synagogue in north-west London, the eminent elderly rabbi passes away. On the other side of the Atlantic, his estranged daughter, Ronit, hears of her father's death and returns to London for the funeral. She has not returned home in 15 years. 

Ronit looks forward to a week or two of revisiting old friends, perhaps settling old scores. But she finds the community she grew up in a more confusing place than she'd anticipated. Particularly when she is unexpectedly reunited with Esti, her childhood sweetheart, who has taken a very different path in life.... 

Disobedience is a hugely enjoyable and warm-hearted portrayal of characters caught between two worlds, and a wise exploration of sexuality, tolerance and faith.

Now a major motion picture starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. 

©2006 Naomi Alderman (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A bold comic touch.... Like Brick Lane, offering a glimpse of a closeted and surprisingly English nook of British society." (Observer)
 

 "A fresh, feisty peek at the hidden world of London’s Orthodox Jewish Community." (The Independent

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 Stars
    34
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

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    57
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    13
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    6
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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Overall it was ok, I guess... Not really.

This story had so much potential, but unfortunately the narrative went, in my opinion as a gay woman, in a homophobic direction. That whole speech about desiring someone of the same gender is ok as as long as you don't act on it is harmful. It would have been fine it had been addressed as so, but it isn't, too many questions remained unanswered by end but that might be just me, I hope they tweak a few things in the adaptation to the big screen.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent story dinged by poor narration

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend it especially to someone who does not know how the Hebrew and Yiddish should be pronounced.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Disobedience?

When Esti is in Hamden seeing how the secular world acts on a Friday afternoon. Her description of Shabbat and what it means to her is stunning especially against the backdrop of her reason for being there.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

As I said - the narration was OK except for the mispronunciation of the Hebrew and Yiddish. At times it was comical because she said words that mean other things...

If you could take any character from Disobedience out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Ronit - I feel like I would like to hear more about her life in the orthodox community vs. her life outside.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Hmmm...Eh

Having seen the movie, the book was much less in comparison. I would say, the book was boring. The only few things I liked was that it answered some questions like, how long Ronit was away and oh Dovit was Ronit’s cousin, okay thanks! The book failed to portray Este and Ronit’ relationship in a deeper sense. Felt more like Ronit only liked Este due to jealousy or some sport. Overall, skip the book and just watch the movie.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

loved it

Would you consider the audio edition of Disobedience to be better than the print version?

I haven't seen the print version so I wouldn't be able to tell that.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Disobedience?

Every detail about the jewish religion were my favorite parts.

Which scene was your favorite?

So many that it would be hard to tell.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I did that actually.

Any additional comments?

Didn't like the end too much, I was expecting something different but loved the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Orthodox Jewish Women

Would you listen to Disobedience again? Why?

Yes, need to understand what the author is going through as a modern Jewish Women.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I liked the end. It reflected how I felt as a Jewish Women in America in the 20th Century.

Have you listened to any of Rachel Atkins’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

The Hebrew pronunciation of many words was incorrect and that bothered me. If you don’t know Hebrew you would enjoy her British accent. The author is British make it more meaningful to use this narrator.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was moved by her decision about being a Jew and/or a lesbian. She is bi-sexual but explains that unlike African Americans, Jews and Lesbians can choose to ignore their differences and keep others from knowing they are different. This may cause some from feeling isolated but know one questions their behavior. One must admit to being different.

Any additional comments?

It is important to know where you come from and where you are going in America. This seems to be the message the author is communicating to all readers. Be yourself!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Loved this book!

Good story with great character development. One of the best narrations I have ever heard!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Interesting but misguided

I found the ruminations on Orthodox Judaism insightful but I feel like the author was trying to write two books in one and the ruminating took me out of the story. Also, using homosexuality as a tool for this rumination is misguided, I understand what the author was trying to say but her attempt leads me to believe that she has no idea of how being gay actually works. It's borderline offensive.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

For anyone who struggles with formal religion

3 main characters struggle with identity and desire in a close knit orthodox community. They each transition to different and yet reasonable places . The triggering event is the death of someone who was a nurturing father figure to all three. I thought the book meaningful and enjoyable

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

An Amazing View into a Very Different World

Ronit, the rebel. Escaped, yet unhappy.
Esti, the tortured. Stayed, yet unhappy.
Dovid, tender and kind. Brainwashed, yet unhappy.

The story follows the trio and how their lives unfold in the Orthodox Jewish community in the middle of London as they enter adulthood. Had they been born in any other regular neighborhood in London, there would’ve been no story to tell.

This is not a story about love, marriage, equality, family or betrayal, although those are part of it. It is a story about self-discovery, stigma, effects of denial, obedience and, of course, disobedience.

Most of us can relate to Ronit, the rebel who refused the rules, I admit I related to her a lot but I also related to Esti and Dovid. Mostly I admired Dovid for his tenderness, kindness, humongous heart and willingness to sacrifice his happiness for Esti’s. That is true love. They were stars of the story. The stunning level of connection between them that Ronit found extremely difficult to grasp, they get each other without uttering a word. Their relationship is peaceful, and what Ronit does not get is that for some people, peace is more valuable than happiness. In fact, there are a lot of things Ronit does not get.

The wonderful thing about being introduced to a new culture or religion through a novel is you get to understand and comprehend the dynamics of the community that otherwise would be difficult to grasp. But through a story, you are immersed, you only have to absorb and enjoy. Being a Muslim myself, it was an amazing view into a very different world than mine.

I had no clue that there was an Orthodox Jewish community in the middle of London. I love stories that introduce me to new cultures! I also loved how each chapter started with reciting some versus and stories taken from the Jewish religion books.

Naomi’s writing style has just the right amount of description to set the story but knew when to stop before boring readers. She had a lyrical rhythm almost, although I must admit it was a task reading through the food description of Sabbath supper. I really enjoyed the nonlinear narrative as well, where it bounced from prose to Ronit’s voice, it kept things interesting. And I see too many people complaining about the ending, but for me, that was the best part. Satisfyingly realistic.

The movie changed many critical events, however, I think they captured the essence of Ronit and Esti, not sure where they were going with Dovid though.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book more than the movie because of all the details on Orthodox Jewish community, in fact, I enjoyed it so much I am going to read more about the religion.

Overall, the book and the movie were enjoyable.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Neon Gay and Being Jewish

When her Rabbi Father dies, Ronit goes back to London. She reconnect with David, her cousin, and his wife Esti. She and Esti were lovers in their youth. Learned a lot about Orthodox Jews and the ways in which women are always lesser than men. Didn’t love the ending but it rang true.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. A. Croucher
  • 05-01-17

Multilayered

I chose this book after hearing Naomi talking on "Only Artists" Radio 4. I like the way she expressed herself. I had to listen to the first two chapters twice to get into but it was well worth it.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lydia
  • 08-07-17

Find another narrator

You just needed to find someone who can pronounce Hebrew words. It's not that hard, seriously. This is an old favourite book of mine and audio is a disappointment. Constantly distracted by pronunciation mistakes.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rebecca Fitzpatrick
  • 03-05-18

Disappointing ending

I'm not going to lie- the only reason I downloaded this book was purely for LGBT representation. It was a good book overall, all little slow to get going and in parts a bit boring to listen to. I think I had built up the ending a little too much, I admit, however I felt like there could have been a better one. Overall it was good, not amazing, but good. I felt that Esti and Ronnit's relationship could have been developed more. In saying that, their relationship was the only reason I was enticed to read it. For the general reader I would recommend. For folk like myself who were gagging for some representation- not worth the hype around it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Debbie Epstein
  • 10-15-17

Great book badly read

This is an excellent novel, a subtle exploration of Jewishness, orthodoxy, father-daughter relationships, sexuality and community. But it really needed to be read by someone different, who doesn’t consistently mispronounce Hebrew and Yiddish words. Even we’ll known words like Shabbat were wrongly pronounced, let alone HaShem . This was profoundly irritating throughout.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-18-17

Narration problems

The narrator frustratingly mispronounces so many words that it actually becomes laughable! As well as frustrating

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Helen Marks
  • 07-17-18

Ruined by pronunciation

This wonderful book was ruined by the pronunciation of the Hebrew and Yiddish words. Basic words like Shabbat and Kiddush were mispronounced and some of the words were incomprehensible. The narrator otherwise did a beautiful job and the blame must go to the producers.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MLK
  • 11-01-18

I was addicted to this book straight away

I am not even sure what it was about this book I liked. It wasn't super exciting or full of drama but I couldn't wait to start listening every day. It was beautifully written and well read. The characters were deep and interesting and I was immediately invested in them. I am very sad it is over!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • cm
  • 08-29-18

different

A good insight into the orthodox Jewish world esp in London but bot that muvh happened in practice so it seemed a little drawn out.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jenny
  • 07-06-18

Educational!

Enjoyed listening and learning about the Orthodox Jewish faith in an informative good story. The narrator was excellent bringing life to the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • tristan
  • 02-19-18

A Thoughtful Listen

What made the experience of listening to Disobedience the most enjoyable?

A beautiful insight into the complexities of friendship, family and love combined the demands and expectations of religion and culture.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful