A bold and daring novel, Illuminating Love entwines the journeys of two Jewish women, Judith, forced to leave her home in Eastern Europe before World War II, and Cally, her granddaughter living in South Africa.
Transcribing her grandmother’s poems in calligraphy, Cally uncovers her family history and roots in Lithuania. Judith’s love poems also serve as a counterpoint for Cally’s circumstances – she is inscribing a love sampler for her husband Jake in order to win him back. At the same time, Cally inscribes and illuminates a Ketuba, the Jewish marriage contract, for Aaron and Shira.
The novel takes a bold look at the myth that abuse does not occur in middle-income marriages or in Jewish families where it is veiled in silence. It vividly recreates Judith’s life in Europe before and during the Second World War, and takes the reader into the heart of one middle class marriage in contemporary South Africa, focusing on a particular family and heritage.