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Summary

The Mandelbaum Gate divides the conflict-torn realm of Jerusalem, separating Israel from Jordan. Barbara Vaughn, a stubborn young English woman and half-Jewish Catholic convert, insists upon crossing the divide in order to rendezvous with her fiancé, in spite of the very real danger. Her quest sets off a series of bizarre situations and adventures, set against the backdrop of the Eichmann trial of 1961.

Muriel Spark has created a many-faceted novel, both comic and serious, enriched by a wealth of information.

©1965 Muriel Spark (P)1994 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"[Davidson] achieve[s] successful transitions through deliberate pauses and changes of voice. Thus, we're able to follow the many tangents the author uses to enrich the story and our listening pleasure." ( AudioFile)
"English-accented Frederick Davidson turns in a memorable performance." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about The Mandelbaum Gate

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Narration Problem

The narrator uses a very affected English accent. It s very irritating and detracts from an excellent and well written story.
Why couldn't the guy just read it in good old R P ?

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen
  • 19-08-10

Spark Sparks!!

Superb Spark book. Early-ish in her career, so not quite so grim as her later ones. Each character, large or small, drawn with clarity and interest, and all set against the background of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem. A bit of a spy mystery thrown in as well. Not to mention crime. Such an amazing accomplishment. The narration is perfect, too.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • connie
  • 26-10-09

Graham Greene meets PG Wodehouse...

Where has this novel been all my life?

I love religious pilgrimage novels, spy novels, political novels, novels that explore other periods and cultures, and literary comedy with eccentric characters and implausible plots. "Mandelbaum Gate" is all of the above mixed together and written in very sharp prose.

I think Frederick Davidison is the perfect narrator for the novel - but just as some people love Davidson's narration and others find him annoying, so listeners will react to Sparks' quirky novel, I think.

She writes from several perspectives with a convoluted timeframe, so you must like that style, too.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Joyce
  • 14-07-18

magnificent book

The Arab/Israeli conflict told with wit, irony and authentic insights. Narrator mostly great, except Freddie.

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  • M. J. Walsh
  • 04-07-21

A companionable puzzle

Like a difficult crossword puzzle that passes the time on a train, this mosaic of a novel is companionable, but often opaque.

Unlike the author's other work, there is no strong writing voice to be heard in this anecdotal, meandering account of a few weeks in the lives of its characters as they encounter the gate that linked Jordan and Israel in the early 1960s. However it does resemble her other books in conveying the sense that what is being described is only the visible surface of a deeper story that may only be glimpsed, as if through a veil.

Not for everyone, but good for some and Spark's lightness of touch and a very good reading keep it lively and engaging.

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  • gail
  • 14-04-18

Seems outdated

I listened to this because a retrospective i read on Spark’s 100th birthday said it dealt with current issues. It may be that the same problems persist, but the characters seemed outdated and stereotyped, particularly the Arabs.