I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book, but I’m late reading and reviewing. The Book of V. was released May 5, 2020. I may have dragged my feet just a little as I saw several early reviews that were less than favorable… when will I learn not to look at reviews before reading? I should have trusted the impulse that made me request it in the first place. I loved this book.
In The Book of V., Anna Solomon has masterfully entwined the stories of three women: biblical Queen Esther in 478 BC; Lily, a mother/second wife/daughter in Brooklyn 2016; and Vivian, wife of a senator in 1970s Washington DC. Parts of the stories of Esther and her predecessor, Vashti, are paralleled in the stories of Vivian and Lily, but all of their experiences spotlight the struggles of women throughout the ages.
The Book of V. had been described by some as a Jewish book as it deals with Esther and other Jewish characters. I’m not a religious person, but from my perspective, this isn’t a religious book as much as literary fiction with religious characters. The writing is beautiful and succinct. Despite their similarities, each woman has a clear and distinct narrative voice, and for the most part, their stories are powerful in their very mundanity. I believe all women can relate to some of the themes here, just for having lived their lives in a world run by men. Queen Esther’s story includes a refreshing bit of magical realism, Vivian’s story has a dreamlike quality, and Lily’s is almost the quintessential modern-day mom experience. Through these stories, Solomon examines sexuality, feminism, motherhood, friendship, marriage, faith, and so much more in a truly creative, lyrical style.
The Book of V. is an interesting, complex, and thought-provoking book. Thank you to Netflix, the publisher, and the author for my copy in exchange for an honest review.