cover image What God Wants

What God Wants

Lily Brett. Citadel Press, $18.95 (260pp) ISBN 978-1-55972-193-6

Although the middle-aged characters in this distinctive collection of 16 interconnected stories are a diverse lot, they are bound together by a shared past: all are the children of Holocaust survivors living in or near Melbourne, Australia. The women in these tales shine with originality and strength; the men for the most part exist in the background, betraying or supporting their wives. Chic, sensual Ruthie Brot is forced into some surprising decisions because of her affair with a friend's husband. Susan Silverman's husband ``is shtooping a shikse'' as she announces in Hot Ochre paint on the outside of her house. Ella Tennenbaum, a prominent journalist brooding over three failed marriages, seeks a new life in Israel. Dora Lipshitz, absorbed in being the perfect wife, decides not to pry into her husband's philandering. Rosa Cohen, after years of analysis, is still profoundly neurotic. Each has her own individual problems but they share subtle self-imposed barriers: each stifles her anger, distrusts the consequences of happiness and feels an overwhelming need to keep the family together. These wryly comic yet deeply moving stories explore layers of guilt and fear, and above all the need for belonging--to the family, to the community and to the faith. This is Australian writer Brett's first book to be published here; she also wrote Things Could Be Worse and three books of poetry. (Sept.)