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Mandelbaum Gate, The

novel jewish barbara arab

a novel by M. Spark, published in 1965. Set in Jerusalem in the early 1960s, the novel opens with the reflections of a middle-aged British expatriate, Freddie Hamilton, a bachelor and amateur poet, concerning the arrival of a British schoolmistress, Barbara Vaughan, who has enlisted his help in order to visit certain religious sites on the Jordanian side of the Mandelbaum Gate, which marks the division between the Arab and Jewish quarters of the city. The situation is complicated by the fact that Miss Vaughan, a Catholic convert, is half Jewish; and the political tension between the Arab and Israeli states makes her intended pilgrimage seem fraught with danger. To add to the complexity, Barbara Vaughan is waiting to hear from her fiancé, Harry Clegg, an archaeologist working on the Dead Sea Scrolls excavation, as to whether he has succeeded in having his marriage annulled. In a scene of great suspense, Barbara visits Jordan disguised as an Arab serving-woman; while she is there she contracts scarlet fever and then disappears. Freddie Hamilton, meanwhile, who has engineered this escapade, finds himself back in the Jewish part of the city, with no memory of events leading up to her disappearance and fearing that his headstrong countrywoman is in mortal danger. The novel deals compellingly with issues of religious and political identity, and makes the story of its protagonist's quest for the reconciliation of the two cultural and religious traditions to which she belongs as exciting as any thriller.

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