The Book of V.
Anna Solomon. Holt, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-25701-7
Solomon (Leaving Lucy Pear) models this clever, heartfelt triptych on The Hours, weaving a retelling of the biblical story of Esther with the linked stories of a senator’s wife and a Brooklyn mom. In the ancient Persian town of Susa, new king Ahasuerus banishes his wife, Vashti, after she refuses to strip for Ahasuerus’s friends. At a house party in 1970s Washington, D.C., Vee Kent’s husband, Sen. Alexander Kent, makes the same lewd request Ahasuerus made to Vashti. Vee refuses, and is sent packing by Alexander’s chief of staff. Vee takes refuge with her best friend, Rosemary, who’s converting to Judaism in solidarity with her husband. In 2016 Brooklyn, Lily is getting her kids ready for Purim when she learns that her mother, Ruth, has been diagnosed with cancer. Later, Lily connects with one of Ruth’s old friends, who shares surprising details about her mother’s identity and past experience. Solomon connects these stories in a way that’s fresh and tantalizing, with fascinating intergenerational discussions about desire, duty, family, and feminism, as well as a surprising, completely believable twist. This frank, revisionist romp through a Bible tale is a winner. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2020