When I Lived in Modern Times

Tel Aviv-called “the white city” because of its many Bauhaus buildings-is the setting of Linda Grant’s novel about Palestine under the British Mandate. Evelyn Sert, a twenty-year-old Jewish girl from England, comes to Palestine in 1946 to be part of the great project of building a Jewish homeland. After a summer on a kibbutz, she winds up settling in Tel Aviv-a modern city teeming with recent Jewish immigrants, all with different visions of the new society they want to build.}}She discovers a reality more complex than she ever expected. The Jews of Palestine are as diverse as can be-Russian-born socialists on the kibbutzim; German Jews still immersed in their Old World culture; Holocaust survivors illegally smuggled into the country in defiance of the British quotas; and native-born Israelis who want no part of the past.}}Evelyn soon finds herself in an unexpected role. Taking up work as a hairdresser for the wives of British officers, who know her as “Priscilla Jones,” a non-Jewish Englishwoman, she becomes privy to their secrets and shares them with her Israeli boyfriend Johnny. Gradually, she realizes that Johnny is a member of the Irgun, the Jewish terrorist underground dedicated to hastening the British departure from Palestine. At first an unwitting accomplice, she eventually takes up her role as a spy, entering a strange new world of danger and intrigue on the eve of Israel’s struggle for independence. – Reform Judaism Magazine}}

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