Raymond and Hannah
Authors: Marche, Stephen
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Synopsis: From a new Canadian talent who will sweep you off your feet, a love story about a man and a woman irresistibly drawn to each other despite the impediments of geography and culture.
Meeting as strangers at a party, Raymond and Hannah stumble into a one-night stand with unexpected consequences. Together, they share a single, magical week before Hannah leaves for Jerusalem, where she is to spend nine months at an orthodox yeshiva learning Torah among students who disapprove of intermarriage. Raymond, a graduate student researching love in Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, struggles with his loneliness and Hannah’s increasing religiosity.
As their separation comes to an end, Hannah questions whether she can live with a man who is not of her people, and Raymond’s hunger for human intimacy reaches a crisis point. He cheats on her; she begins to practice the Commandments. Still, neither can tolerate the other’s absence. Unable to make a clean break, they’re forced to try their insoluble problems in the city without solution, Jerusalem.
Acute and closely observed, Raymond and Hannah captures with gripping precision the thrill of new romance, the bitter doubt of longing, the inescapable urgings of love.
Excerpt from Raymond and Hannah
“What are you here for?” Hannah asks Raymond.
“What am I here for? I was invited.”
“You know Paul.”
He nods. “And you?”
Hannah sips her champagne. “I’m here to meet men.”
A moment’s pause, while he casts a critical gaze across the offerings of the room. “What about Jim?”
“Which one’s Jim?”
He points to a hippie leaning on the radiator across the room, a large-bearded man in jeans and a check flannel shirt whose laughter drunkenly booms like dropped tympani over the light chatter. “I realize that I’ve just ruined it by pointing, but maybe it’s all for the best. It wouldn’t have worked out with Jim anyway. He’s married or something. How about Roger?” He bugs his eyes in the direction of a man in overalls. Hannah looks, arching her elegant neck to see the scruffy poseur affecting boredom beside the refrigerator. “The one in overalls. His name’s Roger. Actually I have no idea who he is. I made up the name.”
She frowns. “That one’s not bad. Excuse me.” She reaches over to the table for the champagne and refills their cups.
“My name’s Raymond,” he says.
“Hannah,” she replies.
They touch cups, and Raymond again scans the room, apparently displeased with its contents. “The pickings here really are a bit slim. I suggest we inspect the other rooms to see if this is all the night has to offer.”