Be My Wolff

Emma Richler. Knopf, $27.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-101-94652-7
Richler’s (Feed My Dear Dogs) ambitious third novel concerns artist Rachel Wolff and her lover, Zachariah—who was raised as Rachel’s adopted younger brother—as they move into their new London home. Zach is estranged from their father Lev, who always doted on Rachel and was hard on Zach, particularly when he abandoned the family’s scholarly and artistic pursuits to become a boxer. After a match that left him with a life-threatening condition, Zach was forced to give up fighting. He still works at a local gym, where he spars on occasion, much to Rachel’s chagrin. Rachel is resurrecting a book she and Zach worked on as children that chronicles the history of a Zach stand-in named Sam. The text of this project makes up a good portion of the narrative, interweaving themes and recurring images. Richler’s writing style is exuberant; the text is rife with so many exclamation points that it takes on the cheerful zest of a friendly work email. There’s a lot going on in this book, but the best parts of the narrative lie in the quiet moments when Rachel and Zach confront their questionable brand of love and the tumultuous effect it has on their lives and loved ones. The novel ends on a sinister note deftly hinted at by the book’s preoccupation with patterns. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/05/2016
Release date: 02/14/2017
Hardcover - 432 pages - 978-0-345-81072-4
Ebook - 978-1-101-94653-4
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