04/26/07

SEASONAL HEALING
Naomi Gal's novel ties the turning of the seasons to the mending of the human heart

Four years ago Naomi Gal, adjunct faculty in English at Moravian College's Comenius Center, moved to the Lehigh Valley and found herself mesmerized by the natural world outside her door. "I was living in a barn in the middle of nowhere," she says. "I had lived in Jerusalem, in Paris, in New York, but I had never experienced the four seasons so forcefully. It was my first encounter with Mother Nature in all her glory."

That first year in a rustic setting is echoed in Naomi's new book Daphne's Seasons, which depicts a woman grieving and healing after a suicide bomber kills her husband. Daphne, the protagonist, finds that living on the rural property she expected to share with her husband exposes her to the healing power of nature. "The seasons really are a healing force, and the book is a way of counting nature's blessings," says Naomi. "Nature is a wonderful teacher. But we lose sight of that, as Daphne loses sight of that, because we're just human beings." Through the course of a year, Daphne copes with sorrow, deals with unsettling new discoveries about her late husband, and comes to terms with truths she knew but never acknowledged. "It's a kind of self-discovery for her," says Naomi.

Daphne's story is not the same as Naomi's, but it is rooted in the author's experiences and her struggles with grief. "I was a journalist in Israel for thirty years," she says. "I covered bombings and I knew so many people who died. Israel is very small, and these aren't things that happen just to other people, they happen to people very close to you." Daphne's Seasons—Naomi's 16th book, and her first in English—starts from a place of pain and sadness, but charts a way out of the gloom. For Naomi, that meant leaving journalism to write books and to teach at Moravian College and elsewhere. "It's unbelievable what a warm, loving and healing community Moravian has been," she says.

Naomi will speak and sign copies of Daphne's Seasons this Saturday, April 28th, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. at the Moravian Book Shop, 428 Main Street.