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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. With a gracefulness evocative of Amy Bloom and Alice McDermott, prizewinning 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, lau 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. With a gracefulness evocative of Amy Bloom and Alice McDermott, prizewinning 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, laughter, 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.


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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. With a gracefulness evocative of Amy Bloom and Alice McDermott, prizewinning 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, lau 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. With a gracefulness evocative of Amy Bloom and Alice McDermott, prizewinning 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, laughter, 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.

30 review for Sima's Undergarments for Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    K

    There’s a social situation which has always interested me, both in life and in literature. It’s when a person, usually older and more competent in one or more ways, takes a younger and more vulnerable person under his wing, motivated at least as much by his own desire for a protégée as by genuine interest in the younger person’s perceived need. Of course, the relationship goes awry. Janice Erlbaum’s memoir “Have You Seen Her?” is a great description of such a situation; the novel “What Was She T There’s a social situation which has always interested me, both in life and in literature. It’s when a person, usually older and more competent in one or more ways, takes a younger and more vulnerable person under his wing, motivated at least as much by his own desire for a protégée as by genuine interest in the younger person’s perceived need. Of course, the relationship goes awry. Janice Erlbaum’s memoir “Have You Seen Her?” is a great description of such a situation; the novel “What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal” is another one. “Sima’s Undergarments for Women” also tries, with partial success at best, to explore a similar dynamic between two women. Sixty-something Sima is the owner of a successful Boro Park basement lingerie store who is haunted by her infertility and childless state. The improbably named twenty-year-old Timna (Timna is an ancient biblical city – it’s like naming your child Bethlehem) is a beautiful Israeli woman who ends up working in Sima’s store. Sima immediately (and I do mean immediately; not gradually which might have been easier to understand) develops an unhealthy obsession with Timna though the nature of the obsession is unclear. Sexual? Wanting to live vicariously? Wanting to see Timna as the daughter she would have had? The fact that we don’t get much of a sense of Sima’s inner life, despite continual recounting of her painful struggles with infertility and her desperate wish for a child, doesn’t help. We see a lot of obsessive behavior on Sima’s part – stalking, desperation to give Timna something valuable, overinvolvement in Timna’s lovelife (Sima is bizarrely invested in Timna’s relationship with a long-distance high school sweetheart Sima has never laid eyes on) – but don’t get much insight into where this comes from. Other than Timna’s beauty and apparent charisma and charm (in sixty-odd years of living Sima’s never met anyone like this?), it’s also unclear what role Timna might play in inviting or allowing this. I also tend to be critical of novels depicting Orthodox Jewish characters and this one was no exception. Sima’s religious behavior was highly inconsistent. With a name like Sima, it’s hard to believe she didn’t grow up Orthodox. In fact, she is described as being Orthodox in the early years of her marriage with no sense that this was new to her; I have to assume it was merely a continuation of her upbringing. Oddly, though, her Orthodox observance consisted solely of attending synagogue on Saturday with her husband and serving a meal afterward while her lack of attention to other basic aspects of Jewish observance was pretty strange. Gradually Sima and her husband are described as drifting from Orthodoxy, a rather undramatic transition which consists entirely of cessation of their synagogue attendance. No other physical or psychological changes appeared to accompany this transition. It’s not that I assume that every Orthodox Jew’s experience mirrors my range of experience, but I have to be able to buy the inconsistencies and here I just couldn’t. The situation is a fascinating one, and though I felt Sima could have been better developed, she was also not a flat character. She reminded me of the title character in Olive Kitteridge, actually. So this book had its merits, but unfortunately did not work for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jlaurenmc

    Reading Ilana Stanger-Ross's debut novel Sima's Undergarments for Women is an exercise in anxiety, primarily because the reader is so thoroughly immersed in main character Sima Goldner's uncertain, self-conscious thoughts. Sima is one of the most skillfully developed characters to enter the world of fiction in a long time. Stanger-Ross writes in third-person narrative, but the novel's voice is so completely Sima's that it seems as though she narrates herself. The marginal distance third-person p Reading Ilana Stanger-Ross's debut novel Sima's Undergarments for Women is an exercise in anxiety, primarily because the reader is so thoroughly immersed in main character Sima Goldner's uncertain, self-conscious thoughts. Sima is one of the most skillfully developed characters to enter the world of fiction in a long time. Stanger-Ross writes in third-person narrative, but the novel's voice is so completely Sima's that it seems as though she narrates herself. The marginal distance third-person point of view gives the author allows the reader to see Sima both as she sees herself and as others see her. Sima is timid is many ways, but she has found her place in her own shop -- Sima's Undergarments for Women -- located in the basement of the Brooklyn home where she and husband Lev reside. She floats along, slightly dissatisfied but unwilling to change, for many years -- until a young Israeli woman enters her store and flips Sima's world upside down. For childless Sima, the energetic Timna is a breath of fresh air. The beautiful girl offers Sima a chance to care for and enjoy a young person. However, Timna is an independent spirit with dreams and a life of her own, as well as a mother back in Israel. The lessons Sima learns through their friendship cross over into Sima's relationship with her husband, and ultimately her ability to love -- even to love herself. Stanger-Ross delves deep into Sima's psyche, as well as the history of her marriage, in this novel. It is not an action-packed or plot-driven book, but rather a character study expertly executed. Some reviewers have expressed dismay at the lack of any one climatic moment in the novel, but in my view it proceeded exactly as it should have -- with the primary focus on Sima, rather than on any revelations surrounding Timna. While Timna provides the perfect foil to Sima's character, actions on her part are purely secondary to the interior thoughts and decisions made by Sima. Ilana Stanger-Ross writes her own blog discussing all things Sima, as well as her recent completion of midwifery school.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Richa Bhattarai

    Interesting, different, and very real. I began this because of the story idea: Sima has been selling sensuous lingerie since decades, yet has no sensuousness left in her life. In comes attractive Timna, soon working as a seamstress for her. The rest is about their lives, introspections, challenges. There’s not a great story going on here, but it’s just so true - could happen to anybody. And you know how in novels people always find the happily ever after that’s so unbelievable? Here the changes Interesting, different, and very real. I began this because of the story idea: Sima has been selling sensuous lingerie since decades, yet has no sensuousness left in her life. In comes attractive Timna, soon working as a seamstress for her. The rest is about their lives, introspections, challenges. There’s not a great story going on here, but it’s just so true - could happen to anybody. And you know how in novels people always find the happily ever after that’s so unbelievable? Here the changes are so subtle, the minute transformation in conversations, in body language, in revelations - that it’s a pleasure to read. I liked that part best, the characters all grow and change and morph, and it’s just like real life, relatable. Parts where Sima was happy about others’ misfortune because it made her feel needed, she could mother them: that is just good psychoanalysis. It can get drawn-out and lengthy, there was no need to stretch the story out so much. But it’s still good and enjoyable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kalen

    *** 1/2 I liked this one fine but not as much as I'd hoped to (I guess that's always the case.... why would we pick up books we might just like "okay"?) I don't know why, but I expected it to be funny rather than sad. The characters are well-developed and the plot is solid. It's anything but funny. Sima is a complex character and I liked her much in the same way I liked Olive Kitteridge--I didn't always like her actions and thoughts, but you know that deep down inside is someone who is looking fo *** 1/2 I liked this one fine but not as much as I'd hoped to (I guess that's always the case.... why would we pick up books we might just like "okay"?) I don't know why, but I expected it to be funny rather than sad. The characters are well-developed and the plot is solid. It's anything but funny. Sima is a complex character and I liked her much in the same way I liked Olive Kitteridge--I didn't always like her actions and thoughts, but you know that deep down inside is someone who is looking for the same things all of us are looking for. The reader can empathize. Her relationship with Timna is complicated. Timna is not just an employee but both an ersatz daughter and an object of physical desire (though the latter is never discussed or acknowledged--it's there.) Sima's relationship with Lev is complex as well, after 46 years of marriage. I liked that the reader only sees Timna's life when she's with Sima, not when they're apart, so like Sima, we don't know what's going on with her when they're not together. (And the same is true with Lev--like Sima, we mostly just saw him upstairs reading or eating.) I'll be thinking about this one and it's complex relationships and characters for a while and may even revise my rating up a bit when I've had more time to process it. I think my primary complaint (if you even want to call it that) with this book is that I had trouble early on determining Sima's age and when the book was set. Not that those are critical factors, but as you're forming mental pictures, it's helpful to have some sense. I knew Sima was considerably older than Timna but it was only near the end of the book with a mention that Sima and Lev had been married 46 years that I realized she was approaching (if not already) 70. I still never fully determined *when* this was set, but that's not critical I suppose. (Funny, as I was posting this, I see marketing copy about a woman's "50-year-old secret." Had I seen that before, I probably would have worked out Sima's age much more quickly!)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Kennedy

    This is one of those books- those books that you will remember for its highs and its lows. It is a book that you at first think is devoid of love, of hope, but you learn that the very strongest love is present, no matter the terrible things that have happened. All it takes is a young girl to happen into a shop in Brooklyn, owned by a woman old beyond her years, to change everything. I wondered through the story, if Sima was attracted to Timna because she wished to be her mother (seems obvious), This is one of those books- those books that you will remember for its highs and its lows. It is a book that you at first think is devoid of love, of hope, but you learn that the very strongest love is present, no matter the terrible things that have happened. All it takes is a young girl to happen into a shop in Brooklyn, owned by a woman old beyond her years, to change everything. I wondered through the story, if Sima was attracted to Timna because she wished to be her mother (seems obvious), because she has the carefree type of life Sima started to have, but was cut short, (a little less obvious) or was there a sexual attraction the Sima couldn't admit (obscure, but there, I think). Or was it all three? At any rate, because of Timna, Sima and Lev begin to heal, and their trip at the end signifies a new beginning for them, even as they approach their later years. I loved what you didn't see also. you never meet Alon, you never find out what is wrong with Timna, you never talk to Timna's mother. But you do get glimpses into Timna's losses, as you get glimpses into what Sima's life could be like if she left Lev. The reader aches for the loss of Sima's children because of one indescretion, but then aches for Lev as he is shut out of even mourning for those unborns. There are a lot of emotions swirling in this book, but with an ultimate triumph in the end. Recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Brusin

    Sima’s Undergarments for Women offers a straightforward, uncomplicated story about a simple, uncomplicated woman who is decidedly unliberated. She defines herself in terms of marriage and children and deems her life worthless because she can’t bear children. An Israeli woman, Timna, happens into her corset shop and Sima fixates on her like a doting mother, worrying, meddling, and projecting upon her, her own lost youth and femininity – as she defines it. Structurally, the novel is divided into ni Sima’s Undergarments for Women offers a straightforward, uncomplicated story about a simple, uncomplicated woman who is decidedly unliberated. She defines herself in terms of marriage and children and deems her life worthless because she can’t bear children. An Israeli woman, Timna, happens into her corset shop and Sima fixates on her like a doting mother, worrying, meddling, and projecting upon her, her own lost youth and femininity – as she defines it. Structurally, the novel is divided into nine months, beginning in the summer and ending in to spring with the celebration of Pesach, the holiday of rebirth. Her troubled relationship with her husband, Lev, is reborn as she comes to realize that passionate sex does not define love as much as abiding acceptance, forgiveness, and companionship. Given that Sima lives in an ultra-orthodox section of Brooklyn, it is not surprising that she would have such a narrow view of what it means to be a woman. She’s really stuck in her teenage years when an indiscretion (something positively taboo in orthodox culture) causes her infertility. Did the author mean to imply that Sima suffers some sort of divine retribution? I think Sima grows up during the course of the novel and moves past the self-centered egotism of adolescence to develop the capacity to look beyond herself and thereby see her husband and his wants and needs. Lots of thoughts about the setting: Perfect place for a “woman’s” story; liberated women burned their bras – the women who frequent Sima’s shop still define themselves in terms of their shape, and obsess about that.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chrystyna

    Didn't like this book at all. The main character, Sima, was creepy to me. She was an older Jewish woman in NYC that had an undegarment business in her basement. There is nothing creepy about that. But she becomes totally obsessed with a young woman, Timna, from Israel who works for her. We hear in detail Sima describe Timna's figure, beauty, breasts and Sima even goes so far as to follow Timna around to see what she is up to. Sounds like a stalker to me. Although Sima is childless and we think t Didn't like this book at all. The main character, Sima, was creepy to me. She was an older Jewish woman in NYC that had an undegarment business in her basement. There is nothing creepy about that. But she becomes totally obsessed with a young woman, Timna, from Israel who works for her. We hear in detail Sima describe Timna's figure, beauty, breasts and Sima even goes so far as to follow Timna around to see what she is up to. Sounds like a stalker to me. Although Sima is childless and we think that her maternal instincts might kick in in wanting to take care of and protect Timna, it's really an unhealthy relationship in the book (at least that is how I felt about it). At one point, the interactions with Timna make Sima want to have a better marriage and it awakens her sexuality. At the end, I figured out what the author was trying to do, but it didn't work. It left me creeped out and not satisfied with the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    What a gripping book.. Sima is an older Jewish woman in New York. She has never had any children. She manages a shop in her basement that sells undergarments to women. She offers excellent fitting skills and quality products. Her husband, Lev, is a retired teacher. When the seamstress leaves, she encounters a new, young Jewish woman, Timna, recently arrived in the U.S. from Israel. She's also an able seamstress. Timna becomes like a daughter to Sima. The history of this woman's life defines her What a gripping book.. Sima is an older Jewish woman in New York. She has never had any children. She manages a shop in her basement that sells undergarments to women. She offers excellent fitting skills and quality products. Her husband, Lev, is a retired teacher. When the seamstress leaves, she encounters a new, young Jewish woman, Timna, recently arrived in the U.S. from Israel. She's also an able seamstress. Timna becomes like a daughter to Sima. The history of this woman's life defines her everyday existence. Lev is kind of adrift upstairs watching TV and reading. How her self awareness changes and how their relationship is affected is the plot of the story. I cried at the end. The frustrating question in your mind as you read..."why does she do this?" is explained and mostly resolved with room for her to grow.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    There are books that you just don't like, and then there are books that are made all the worse because you expected them to be something different and uplifting, and when they turn out to be unhappy, it's that much worse. This was one of those books. For some reason I expected this to be a story of empowerment, a story about repressed women that come together to create lingerie and find their self worth. Instead it is a story of a bitter old woman who tries to control her beautiful, young employe There are books that you just don't like, and then there are books that are made all the worse because you expected them to be something different and uplifting, and when they turn out to be unhappy, it's that much worse. This was one of those books. For some reason I expected this to be a story of empowerment, a story about repressed women that come together to create lingerie and find their self worth. Instead it is a story of a bitter old woman who tries to control her beautiful, young employee. It's not a happy book and I really disliked Sima.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Jackson

    This book has been a go-to of mine for years. Its ability to navigate the complexities of relationships is poignant and hits home, no matter who you are. The relationships between husbands and wives, women old and young, women who have been friends for the majority of their lives -- these relationships are all explored and tested. The writing is simple, fresh, and not-too-flowery. I highly recommend this book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tara Chevrestt

    I just didn't get this. Some old lady who has a bran store in her basement is obsessed with a new young chick that is working for her. It's not lesbian or even remotely erotic. It's just WEIRD. Either the old lady was jealous of the chick and wanted to BE her or perhaps she thought the girl was the daughter she never had. I lost interest and didn't care to find out.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I was expecting a lot more from this book. It is competently written but not exceptional, and the characters are not terribly interesting. I liked the Brooklyn setting, but didn't get a huge emotional catharsis from the plot. It was also quite slow in parts.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sallie Klein

    It took me months to get through this. I found it a very slow read, it picked up near the end. Parts of it were captivating but mainly I wasn't super motivated to keep reading it for long periods of time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Simonew

    Took me longer to finish this book than I planned (I was reading it just before bed at night and kept falling asleep - not from boredom but from exhaustion), so unfortunately I think I liked it less then if I had read it over a shorter amount of time. I liked the story , but had hoped I would like it more than I did.... it is a nice story , well developed characters. I liked the way it went back and forth from the present to the past. Sima's life is tinged with sadness (coloured by her past) des Took me longer to finish this book than I planned (I was reading it just before bed at night and kept falling asleep - not from boredom but from exhaustion), so unfortunately I think I liked it less then if I had read it over a shorter amount of time. I liked the story , but had hoped I would like it more than I did.... it is a nice story , well developed characters. I liked the way it went back and forth from the present to the past. Sima's life is tinged with sadness (coloured by her past) despite her successful business. It is an interesting setting for a story, I would find myself interested in the stories of the different people but for some reason I kept forgetting that Nurit was a female character which would make some of the story seem odd but would then remember and continue with the story

  15. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I found the main character relatable and the story, although mainly taking place in a basement shop, intriguing. The complex relationship we have with ourselves, our bodies and the way society limits our choices about them is the main theme. Love, longing, the need to connect and the fear of being intimate with ourselves and others is another feature. It makes you think about the way you relate to freedom and fear in your own life, and where and how you allow one or the other to shape the choice I found the main character relatable and the story, although mainly taking place in a basement shop, intriguing. The complex relationship we have with ourselves, our bodies and the way society limits our choices about them is the main theme. Love, longing, the need to connect and the fear of being intimate with ourselves and others is another feature. It makes you think about the way you relate to freedom and fear in your own life, and where and how you allow one or the other to shape the choices that ultimately create your life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    ELDEE

    The title is intriguing and there is some interesting relationships but I pulled my hair out over the way Sima treats her husband! Maybe it is coincidence that both people in this failing marriage are poor communicators. I feel Lev has the patience of Job and it seems his only enjoyment in life is the daily newspaper and his visits with Timna. I think she reminded him of who he thought he once married. It drags horribly and I managed to finish it by skimming some redundant episodes. Read at your The title is intriguing and there is some interesting relationships but I pulled my hair out over the way Sima treats her husband! Maybe it is coincidence that both people in this failing marriage are poor communicators. I feel Lev has the patience of Job and it seems his only enjoyment in life is the daily newspaper and his visits with Timna. I think she reminded him of who he thought he once married. It drags horribly and I managed to finish it by skimming some redundant episodes. Read at your own risk. You have been warned.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I was fascinated by this book because of its unique setting of a basement undergarment store in Borough Park Brooklyn. These hole and the wall stores and their owners are legendary in NYC and shrinking by the year. Sima is a very complicated and sometimes harsh protagonist who has built a lot of walls around herself. This book explores themes of envy, love, regret, jealousy, and longing. Would recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I wish Sima's ability to fit a bra was available to all women. I've had my fair share of uncomfortable bras (even after a fitting.) But, Sima was such a whiner! At least at the end of the story, she realized that Lev wasn't the slug she thought he was. She was fortunate that he stayed with her considering her disrespectful treatment of him. For Lev, the arrival of Timna was a blessing. For Sima and Lev, her departure was when they were able to see each other again through love's eyes.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda K

    A thoughtful, quiet book that is no less engaging for those qualities. I listened to this on audio and enjoyed the narrator for the most part. Had to switch to reading in hard copy when the audiobook came due at the library. I'm really glad I read this. Sima's story may not be completely unique but I loved how the author presented her and the other cast of characters. I think this is a book that will "stay" with me for awhile.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy

    I was looking for comfort in reading about intergenerational female friendships and the realities of long term relationships. Instead I found Sima WAY too obsessed with Timna, and Timna not a likable character and without character depth. I also found Sima way too harsh on her husband, in spite of her secrets.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Soma is a sixty-something owner of a lingerie shop, who has been in a lifeless marriage for years. One day, a young, vibrant Israeli tourist comes to her store and changes her life. I really enjoyed this book. I guess I could relate to Sima- it can sometimes be easier to try to fix other people's lives rather than your own.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Myra Rose

    Going to be brief. I liked the book, mostly because Sima's bra store reminded me of the 'bra lady' who I religiously bought bras from until I moved to New Jersey, but I didn't like Sima, the main character. She was certainly no Lee.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anna Potter

    Great setting... an interesting disussion about empowered women within a Jewish neighborhood of Brooklyn, aging, and infertility.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    A sad book but beautifully written.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen McRae

    This was an interesting story.The writing did not blow me away but the characters were well done and I really found it tp be women's lit in an understated way.

  26. 4 out of 5

    asummersday

    I didn't really get the point of the book. Some of the passages of the book were enjoyable, but I thought the relationship between Sima and Timna was strange.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I think I read this but not sure so I'm marking it as read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book caught my attention when I spotted it at my local library. It had a different book cover than the one shown here, but the title itself was interesting and the blurb on the back piqued my interest. Unfortunately, I don't think the book lives up to its cover. I didn't mind reading the book - parts were even enjoyable. I managed to get through it in two days, but it wasn't always a satisfying read. For starters, the main character of Sima was not particularly likeable. She's not only pass This book caught my attention when I spotted it at my local library. It had a different book cover than the one shown here, but the title itself was interesting and the blurb on the back piqued my interest. Unfortunately, I don't think the book lives up to its cover. I didn't mind reading the book - parts were even enjoyable. I managed to get through it in two days, but it wasn't always a satisfying read. For starters, the main character of Sima was not particularly likeable. She's not only passive aggressive, but her actions throughout suggest that Timna may need a restraining order more than she needs a job. Even when she helps people, it seems more self serving than anything else. To show Timna how wonderful she is (and how it wasn't questionable to be staring at Timna's chest) she makes an extra special show of fitting a woman. When she's giving Timna advice, she praises herself and thinks of how her best friend would compliment her intuition and skill. And if that weren't enough, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her long suffering husband. At one point the author writes that Sima could not speak of her emotions and that Lev could not read the silence. I'm not particularly sympathetic to Sima in that scenario. Humans are not yet capable of telepathic communication and, as such, it is not fair to expect people to "just know" what you're feeling. It brings me right back to the first thing I found about the character - she's utterly passive aggressive. The other qualm I had is with Timna. I never once saw throughout the novel what made Timna so very special. She's apparently quite beautiful and blessed, particularly in her the formation of her chest. As Sima repeats over and over and over and over again. Really, with the amount of time the author devotes to Sima pontificating about Timna's beauty, I really thought this novel was going to go in another direction - especially when you get to that scene on the stairs. I'm actually rather disappointed that the author didn't go there as it would make a lot of Sima's actions if not more sympathetic, at least a bit more understandable. To clarify, there's nothing wrong with Timna. She seems nice enough - charismatic and gorgeous - but I never quite grasp at why Sima was so enchanted with her from the moment she saw her breasts. While I'm sure that it seems that I'm overly critical of the book, there were parts that I enjoyed. I liked reading about how the store came to fruition and made itself a part of the neighborhood. I found it interesting when the book explored the concepts of self doubt and insecurity in regards to the female form - Sima's interaction with her customers (most of the time anyway) was a unique read. I also enjoyed the flashbacks to Sima's past, which was often more interesting than the present day tale. Generally, I enjoyed reading the book. I just didn't particularly like the concept of the meat of it. The side diversions and the background tended to be more entertaining and I would have preferred that the author explore them instead of focusing on Sima's obsession with Timna. The book is worth reading for those parts, but be prepared to shake your head at regular intervals due to Sima's exploits.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    In Sima's Undergarments for Women, Sima runs a lingerie shop from the basement of her home. One day Tinma wanders in to buy a bra, but stays on as a seamstress when she learns that Sima is hiring. Tinma's youth and beauty also allow her to model some of the merchandize for the customers. Together, Sima and Tinma forge a friendship that takes on different forms throughout the book. The story of their friendship is interspersed with memories of Sima's life, her relationship with her husband, Lev, In Sima's Undergarments for Women, Sima runs a lingerie shop from the basement of her home. One day Tinma wanders in to buy a bra, but stays on as a seamstress when she learns that Sima is hiring. Tinma's youth and beauty also allow her to model some of the merchandize for the customers. Together, Sima and Tinma forge a friendship that takes on different forms throughout the book. The story of their friendship is interspersed with memories of Sima's life, her relationship with her husband, Lev, and her long-kept secret. I really enjoyed this book. Even though there's an overall sadness to the piece, it was an enjoyable read. I particular liked the flashbacks about Sima's past with Lev and their friends, Connie and Art. I found this style of storytelling a perfect fit for this book. The background information filled in the story nicely and added a hint of suspense as the details regarding Sima's secret emerged. Sima and Tinma's relationship was very believable. Sometimes they were like girlfriends, other times they were more like mother/daughter. Sima seemed so sad and lost. Her shop was a success, yet Tinma reminded her of her unfilled dreams. She envied Tinma's lifestyle and relationships, yet tried to protect her from making the same mistakes she did. I really felt sorry for her. The whole lingerie shop had me intrigued. Of course, I've walked by stores like that, but I've always bought my underwear at a department store and haven't ventured into the world of specialized fittings for that kind of stuff. I did find it interesting, though, so maybe one day I'll put aside my shyness and travel into unknown territory. ;) New words: mezuzah (page 31): small parchment scroll with biblical passages mikvah (page 188): ritual bath for purification among Orthodox Jews yeshiva (page 281): orthodox Jewish seminary Highly recommended. For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Penguin's website. For more information about the author, please visit Ilana Stanger-Ross's website. I'd like to thank those nice people at Penguin for this review copy. Sima's Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger Ross, Penguin, ©2009. ISBN 9780143117483(Trade paperback), 317p. This review can also be found on my blog, Daisy's Book Journal.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    In Sima's Undergarments for Women, Sima Goldner is a 65 year old woman, who runs a lingerie shop out of the basement of her Brooklyn home, which she shares with her husband, Lev of 46 years. (Chapter 1- first paragraph...... "SIMA SURPRISED HERSELF BY BLUSHING AT THE ROUND perfection of the young woman's breasts. For thirty-five years, after all, breasts had been her business: she knew the slight curve of the preteen breast, its nipple rigid when unveiled in the cool air of her basement shop; the In Sima's Undergarments for Women, Sima Goldner is a 65 year old woman, who runs a lingerie shop out of the basement of her Brooklyn home, which she shares with her husband, Lev of 46 years. (Chapter 1- first paragraph...... "SIMA SURPRISED HERSELF BY BLUSHING AT THE ROUND perfection of the young woman's breasts. For thirty-five years, after all, breasts had been her business: she knew the slight curve of the preteen breast, its nipple rigid when unveiled in the cool air of her basement shop; the aching breasts of pregnant women, skin shiny and striped from stretch; the parchment breasts of the elderly, liver-spotted, soft with down; she knew breasts with pink nipples, olive nipples, brown nipples; nipples pushed in and pulled out, tiny as dimes, large as the ringed stain of a coffee cup; she knew heavy breasts on thin women and thin breasts on heavy women; breasts 28A, 52K, and breasts with a cup size between them. She even and of course knew the knotted red scar of the breast that was no longer there, the twisting keloid marker of what science had stolen away". Sima teaches women to appreciate their bodies, even though her own body has disappinted her. Childless, Sima is saddened by the fact that she was never able to have a child. One day Timna, a beautiful Israeli woman wanders into Sima's shop in the Jewish Orthodox neighborhood. Sima becomes fascinated with this lovely woman. Timna is just out of the Army, and here without a visa, while waiting for her boyfriend to get out of the Army. When Timna learns that Sima is looking to hire a seamstress for the shop, she convinces Sima to hire her. Timna is like a breath of fresh air; she brings new life to the shop. Sima quickly seems to become obsessed with the young, beautiful Timna, and through her she is forced to think about the regrets she's faced in her own life. A non-observant Jewish woman, who feels shame about her own infertility, she reassesses her life, her marriage and how to spend the remaining years she has left. (p310)..."How many others like her, she thought, how many others lonely within their walls? And then one day realizing that every room has a door, and opening it". A beautiful story, filled with colorful and sometimes flawed characters, it is much more than a story about an underwear shop. It is a story about love, loss, regrets and finally acceptance. I'm so glad I decided to read this endearing story. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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