Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Reco: Sima's Undergarments for Women

I have this friend who reads absolutely everything and gives me lots of good recommendations. Love that! We both like women's fiction, so recently she mentioned two books--one big and splashy and one quiet and delicate. I ordered both. Being in a splashy frame of mind, I started with the fictionalized biography of Laura Bush. I heard it was juicy and well-written and while all that was true...I just couldn't get into it. So I picked up Sima's Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross. 

It takes place in one of those little shops I always see in New York, half-hidden on the ground floor, this one under a Boro Park brownstone. Women from this Orthodox Jewish neighborhood all visit Sima for bra fittings and conversation. Mostly the latter. 

Sima's life consists of running her shop and tending to Lev, her husband of many years, until a gorgeous young Israeli woman named Timna starts working as a seamstress in the shop. 

Timna soon becomes, at least in Sima's mind, the daughter she couldn't have of her own. And also a bit of an obsession. Timna provides a glimpse into the self Sima never was, but longed to be: sexy, carefree, with a lifetime of possibilities ahead of her. Sima is a deeply flawed and nuanced character (she reminded me a little of Olive in Olive Kitteridge) but I connected with her and found her interesting (much more so than pretty Timna, actually.)

Have you ever had a bra fitting? It's personal, to say the least. Much bare flesh is involved. So I can understand how, along with stripping off physical clothes, it's an easy atmosphere to share intimate feelings.  Anyway, if you are in to literary women's fiction at all, pick this one up.


Melanie Hooyenga said...

This sounds like something I'd really enjoy. Thanks for the review.

I've never had a fitting -- I'm too nervous.

Angie Ledbetter said...

No fitting for me, but the book sounds really good. Thanks!

Allie said...

Ooh! That sounds really good! I'll have to check it out.