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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

And the Bride Closed the Door

Ronit Matalon

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To purchase And the Bride Closed the Door

Title: And the Bride Closed the Door
Author: Ronit Matalon
Genre: Novel
Written: 2016 (Eng. 2019)
Length: 128 pages
Original in: Hebrew
Availability: And the Bride Closed the Door - US
And the Bride Closed the Door - UK
And the Bride Closed the Door - Canada
Et la mariée ferma la porte - France
Und die Braut schloss die Tür - Deutschland
La sposa ha chiuso la porta - Italia
  • Hebrew title: והכלה סגרה את הדלת
  • Translated by Jessica Cohen

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Our Assessment:

B : fine little chamber piece

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Haaretz . 29/12/2016 Shira Stav
The NY Times Book Rev. A 10/11/2019 Rachel Kadish

  From the Reviews:
  • "The text is very theatrical and cinematic, augmented by the authorís frequent use of parentheses (in the form of minor stage directions). The novella is an encounter between an elegant, sophisticated and well-balanced play and a comic, folksy, lowbrow movie recalling the Israeli "bourekas" genre of the 1950s and í60s. In Matalonís text, their intersect gradually unfolds as a cultural rift. (...) And the Bride Closed the Door displays impressive literary skill, without the gravitas and verbosity that have sometimes burdened Matalonís earlier novels. The elegant, cool writing is totally void of the constrained artificiality that characterizes the work of so many contemporary authors. That said, this book, too, lays bare the limitations of realistic artistic writing, with its measured, planned and meticulously rendered irony, which incessantly sends us reading instructions, calls us to order and dictates meaning." - Shira Stav, Haaretz

  • "The lightness of Matalonís tale belies its heft. In prose that is both abrupt and tender, she skewers the hydraulics of family and the insensitivities of those who think themselves exquisitely sensitive." - Rachel Kadish, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       And the Bride Closed the Door is a wedding day-story, with Margalit -- Margie -- and Matti scheduled to get married and five hundred people expected in the wedding hall. Things have already gone off the rails at the beginning of the novel, however, -- Margie has been "locked in her room in utter silence for more than five hours" -- and when Margie does finally say something from behind the closed doors it's not what anyone wants to hear, her preëmptive talaq not directed outright at her betrothed but just as clear: "Not getting married. Not getting married. Not getting married".
       The novel is a chamber piece, set entirely in and around the family house, with a small cast of characters -- parents and relatives, with only a few outsiders appearing on the scene -- and covering only around twenty-four hours of action -- all around that particular inaction, as essentially off-stage (even if she is in the middle of it all) Margie in almost no way interacts with the others, leaving them hanging, and wondering.
       First and foremost, of course, there's Matti, who pleads through the door and racks his brains what might have triggered this sudden turn of events, seesawing in his reactions, from understanding to lashing out. Meanwhile, family members offer advice -- and try to deal with the organizational issues that loom ever-larger, given the many guests that have been invited and the elaborate catering preparations that were made.
       Matti wonders if the trigger was an argument the couple had the previous evening, watching a movie on TV about poet Leah Goldberg, best known for writing about unrequited love. Matti had (foolishly, foolishly) expressed rather too sympathetic a reading of the tragic figure:

I said it was too bad I never knew her or met her, and that maybe I would have loved her for real and been able to rescue her from that difficult life she had with men who didn't love her
       Matti points out that Goldberg has been long dead at this point (she died in 1970); nevertheless, it perhaps wasn't the best thing to say to one's fiancée a day before the wedding. That this might have something to do with Margie's sudden withdrawal is then also suggested by a small sign of life from the silent room she has holed up in: she slips a piece of paper under the door. On it, she has written a variation of a poem by Leah Goldberg, the first part of the well-known 'The Prodigal Son' -- now turned into 'The Prodigal Daughter'. Matti and the others are, however uncertain, how to interpret the missive.
       Among the other solutions considered are simply getting a locksmith or breaking down the door (which they don't do) or engaging the services of a specialized psychologist from 'Regretful Brides' ("they work 24/7, they come especially for emergencies with brides") -- which they do. The psychologist eventually even does speak with Margie -- though it takes quite some maneuvering, and, somewhat oddly, the psychologist doesn't share her conclusions from the conversation, i.e. dispense any advice as to the further handling of the situation.
       Eventually, another bit of information about the family is revealed, that Margie had a younger sister, Natalie, and that: "Ten years ago Natalie left school and disappeared, and they never found her" -- their mother Nadia insisting: "she's alive, poor girl. Natalie's alive. She's gone", a little girl lost. It is not so much a family mystery -- Natalie's fate is not as uncertain as what Nadia clings to -- as a void that they are still dealing with -- certainly Nadia, but clearly, then, also Margie.
       Comic-tragic, And the Bride Closed the Door mines its suddenly cold-footed bride set-up quite well, helped by a varied cast of relatives with the expected variety of reactions (and suggestions -- helpful and less so -- of how to proceed). With some darker shadows in the background, most obviously that of disappeared sister Natalie, there's also more serious depth to the story. Still, even with its hopeful ending, the slim novella feels in parts underdeveloped, including with its would be couple, presented in relation to one another (specifically through the accounts of various recent disagreements) but with little other character-development to them beyond that, especially the out-of-reach but so central Margie.

- M.A.Orthofer, 18 September 2019

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And the Bride Closed the Door: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Israeli author Ronit Matalon (רונית מטלון) lived 1959 to 2017.

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© 2019-2021 the complete review

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