Cus­toms be­hind

Shakira Hus­sein

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

en­forced The Veil Haw­ley de­scribes how, among Amish women, one’s de­gree of or­tho­doxy gov­erns de­tails such as how a bon­net is tied and whether a dress is fas­tened with straight pins or snaps.

The Veil is made all the more read­able by its smor­gas­bord of ap­proaches, from au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal re­flec­tions to his­tor­i­cal and so­ci­o­log­i­cal ac­counts and comic strips. I en­joyed Michelle Auer­bach’s ac­count of how, af­ter be­ing reared by hip­pie ‘‘ cul­tural rel­a­tivists’’, she re­belled by re­con­nect­ing with her Jewish roots, learn­ing to pray and to keep kosher. But al­though she longs to em­brace the norms of her new so­cial cir­cle in their en­tirety, she can­not quite bring her­self to em­brace the veil. Her mother’s re­prov­ing voice rings in her ears, want­ing to know how she could choose ‘‘ a rayon dress and a syn­thetic wig and panty­hose in Au­gust’’ when her par­ents’ gen­era-

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