Her Promised Road

Written by Efrat Israeli
Review by Joanna Urquhart

“I love [America] for all her great strides and aspirations,” says Devorah Abramson, the central character in Efrat Israeli’s new novel Her Promised Road, “but that can never alter the truth – without Eretz Israel, we have nothing.” And sentiments like that set the tone for the whole book, which tells the story of thoughtful, complicated Devorah’s mission to America in 1931 on behalf of the Women Worker’s Council in Palestine, seeking to raise money and awareness for the Jews striving to create a Jewish National Homeland in the Holy Land.

In America she encounters friends, ideological enemies, the possibility of love, and many kinds of Jewish communities, and it is through this satisfyingly complex web of plots and sub-plots that Israeli paints a picture of the movement that gave the modern state of Israel its beginnings. The story of Devorah’s loves and family steadily overshadows the slightly expository nature of the book’s early chapters (although those chapters are enlivened by a parade of historical players in the Jewish Homeland debate), so that by the end the book reads like a rich personal story rather than a thinly-disguised political tract.

The picture of America in the ’30s and ’40s is particularly good. Recommended, especially for readers interested in the history of Palestine.