01 April 2009

Sima's Undergarments for Women

Flap Copy from ARC: "There are some life-long quests that all women have in common -- meaningful work, true love, and a bra that doesn't leave red marks on your skin ... writer Ilana Stanger-Ross has created a secret underground New York sisterhood where women of every shape and creed can come to share their milestones, laugher, loves and losses against a backdrop of discount lingerie.

In the comfort of her Brooklyn basement bra shop, Sima Goldner teaches other women to appreciate their bodies, but feels betrayed by her own. Shamed by her infertility and a secret from her youth, she has given up on happiness and surrendered to a bitter marriage. But then Timna, a young Israeli with enviable cleavage, becomes the shop seamstress. As the two serve the colorful customers of the orthodox Jewish neighborhood, Sima finds herself awakened to adventure and romance. Years after giving up on their marriage, Sima and her husband, Lev, must decide if what they have is worth saving."

I love love love this book, I couldn't put it down! It's beautifully written, alternating the humor and the tragedy of lives lived. Stanger-Ross has crafted rich, genuine characters - I felt Sima's silent emotional struggle as though it were my own, while Timna felt like so many young women I have known.

Sima is a local wonder in her tiny basement lingerie shop, where "in a glance she could see their size, the back and the cup combined. '36-D,' she'd say ... In vain the women protested, 'but I'm a 34. I've always been.' [But] when on her advice they slipped back on their shirts to evaluate the shape a new bra gave, they inevitably agreed." Her loyal customers rely on her to fit them, their sisters and their daughters with the perfect underwear while at the same time hearing their joys and sorrows and providing meaningul advice. This role has been Sima's for so long that she has completely forgotten how to think about her own problems, her own needs -- until Timna arrives, a breath of fresh air for the shop and the daughter that Sima and her sad husband Lev never had.

Watching Timna explore New York and her own freedom and youth, Sima is forced to examine her own life and the secrets and shames she has held since adolescence - and ultimately to accept her husband and begin the task of rebuilding their love. With graceful, unselfconscious prose Stanger-Ross brings to life the hidden stories all around us. I give this book a rousing 5 stars -- read it and you'll want to share it with all the women in your life.


  1. I loved this one as well even though it made me sad for all those wasted years...

  2. I love love love your review! Thank you so much--it's so wonderful to hear that my characters have meaning to readers I've never met. Especially readers who maintain such fantastic websites!

  3. This book was so sad - I foolishly read it right before I went to sleep, and then I couldn't sleep because I felt so sad for Sima. But it was really well-written.