Sima’s Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross is one of the handful of books I picked up at Book Expo America. The rep from Penguin Publishing described it as a quirky little book.

That’s exactly what it is, and another book I’d nominate as a beach read (boy, is there a bumper crop of those this year – that or I’m reading a lot more fiction).

The book is about Sima Goldner, a middle aged woman who owns a lingerie shop in the basement of her Brooklyn home. The story gets moving when she hires a beautiful Israeli woman, Timna, as her seamstress. Having a gorgeous young woman in her shop forces Goldner (or at least Ilana Stranger-Ross in telling the story) to revisit her infertility, and how that one thing she couldn’t do – have children – has dominated her life, torn apart her marriage and put a big black rain cloud over her head. For decades.

I’ve never been a very maternal person. I don’t coo at babies, and save for literally a week in my early 20s, never had a strong desire to have a baby. I didn’t think I would sympathize with Simna, but I did. Stanger-Ross made her sorrow so real, especially in the flashbacks to when Simna was tested to find out why she couldn’t have children. They tests they performed her were horrific, even worse than the word the doctor used to describe her: barren.

So even though it’s a novel, it was a history lesson, too, about women’s health and another generation’s gender roles, and how a little communication can change someone’s point of view. Very interesting read.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

1 Comments

  1. Michael Stuart on July 7, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I've always enjoyed historical fiction, this one sounds like it's worth a try. Thanks!

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