In 1889, a Jewish girl attends the opening of an exhibition in a new art gallery in Budapest. A young artist named Gábor Pahl notices her, and his stare makes her flee. Eighteen years later she visits the National Salon of 1907 in Budapest to see Gábor Pahl’s paintings, accompanied by her two daughters. This time the painter fixes his gaze on her elder daughter, Kata. Those two encounters – and one painting – are at the foundation of this novel, the story of Kata and her family, three generations living through the turmoil of the 20th century.
The plot unfolds between Budapest and Novi Sad, between New York and Tel Aviv. In 2008, Noa returns to Israel, after ten years of residence in a picturesque, sleepy Massachusetts town in the US. She finds it challenging to settle in the dynamic, rowdy city of Tel Aviv. In her new life, Noa is immersed in writing Kata’s story and in a love relationship, both turbulent and difficult. “Not that Kata’s life was so interesting” Noa complains to her editor “and she is not the first or last woman in a marriage of convenience, living an unhappy life. I don’t know what it is that attracts me to her character, but I have to write this book.” Saved as a Painting " has the answer to Noa’s question and spotlight on other doubts taunting her while writing.
Plot: Saved as a Painting is an unsurpassably beautiful and powerful narrative. The smooth storyline nurtures all the elements of historical fiction, weaving them together effortlessly.
Prose/Style: Geva’s prose is crisp and flawless. Told in the first person, Noa’s voice resonates with nostalgia, intensity, and longing.
Originality: Saved as a Painting leans heavily on historical fiction foundations, but Geva incorporates dynamic voices in an unconventional way.
Character Development/Execution: Geva’s characters are consuming in their accuracy and richness. Noa’s wavering but potent narration will mesmerize readers, and Kata is thunderous and heartbreaking.
Blurb: A piercing story of yearning that will both devastate and intoxicate readers.
Date Submitted: June 18, 2021