Davita's harp, Chaim Potok

During the eighties and nineties the American writer Chaim Potok was very popular in The Netherlands. I read several of his books and really liked them, but somehow I never re-read one of them, until a couple of weeks ago.

Davita's harp tells the story of a young girl, Ilana Davita who grows up in the nineteenthirties with her very intellectual parents who are both members of the communist party in the US.

Often they have to move since landlords are not to keen on communists in their appartments, and the only thing that always means home to Ilana is the doorharp that always hangs on the frontdoor in each appartment.

Then her father dies in the cival war in Spain and her mother hardly knows how to survive this loss. In the end her mother marries a childhood friend and distant relative, and returns to the Jewish faith she grew up in.

Communism did not give Ilana any comfort, but the Jewish community will in the end also betray her, as her quick mind and sharp thinking is not appreciated, since she is a woman.

Chaim Potok often writes about the conflict an individual can have when he or she goes against (religious) tradition.

I really enjoyed this book again, and I saw the similarities between the Orthodox Jewish faith and communism, as strange as that sounds. But in both cases there is only room for one truth and the sacred texts (either Marx of the Thorah) must be studies and commented upon.

Chaim Potok is a good writer who knows how to bring an unfamilair milieu to life, with compassion for his characters.

Davita's harp is a beatiful book and I am glad I picked it up again.


  1. It's been such a long time since I read this book I barely remember it, but I do remember admiring Davita for being such a strong character. :)

    1. Yes, she is strong and a very like-able young girl, I really enjoyed this book again.

      Kind regards,


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