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Against My Will

Against My Will

ISBN : 978-0-88391-279-9

SIZE : 6” X 9”

PRICE : U.S $16.00

PAGES : 271

BRIEF : A story of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately about love.

Against My Will

Book Brief

Danielle Landau knows she should feel lucky, but she can’t feel anything but dread. Not only did she pass the New York Bar, but she married the man her father says is just right for her and lives in a fashionable new loft in Queens. But the man who seems like the perfect catch is a perfect nightmare at home. Jacob tries to control her career, her daily routine, and even what she eats. He ignores her desires and belittles her every chance he gets. Soon, Danielle doesn’t recognize her husband or herself, and she struggles to find a way out.

One night, Jacob pushes her too far, and now Danielle has to escape. With the help of her beloved Nana, Danielle moves across the country and starts to rebuild her life. But will she be able to escape her past? And when one of her clients finds herself in the same terrible situation, will Danielle have the strength to help her?

As we follow Danielle on her journey of terror and recovery, we see her story intersect with the journal entries of her Nana, then a young girl shortly after she was liberated from a Nazi concentration camp. And from more than seventy five years ago, the full weight of the family’s secrets becomes clear. This is a story of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately about love.

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Here’s what others are saying:

Danielle and Jacob’s marriage wasn’t exactly a match made in heaven, but Danielle’s beloved father thought the world of Jacob, and she wasn’t getting any younger, so marrying seemed like the thing to do. In her worst nightmares, however, Danielle never dreamed that things could go bad so quickly. Jacob was an arrogant control freak who treated her as chattel property. Danielle’s initial disillusionment with Jacob turned into despair, then a kind of gloomy acceptance until one brutal act forces her to take desperate measures to escape to regain her freedom and self-respect.

Danielle’s story would have been fascinating enough on its own, but adding to the suspense and horror was the parallel story of her grandmother Rose’s struggles to survive the horrors of a German concentration camp more than half a century earlier. Though separated by time and circumstance, their stories were remarkably similar in some ways.

Author Benjamin Berkley has written a superb novel that examines the issue of spousal abuse and, in a broader sense, man’s inhumanity. It was painful to see Danielle sinking into despondency as her marriage unraveled, but afterward, it was equally uplifting to see her taking charge of her destiny to forge a new, better life for herself. As a prosecuting attorney, her biggest case was one that would force her to face her troubled past and use her own pent-up anger to win justice for another abused woman.

As captivating as the story is, the finely-drawn characters are what make the book so memorable. Danielle Landau is an intelligent, independent thirtyish young lady who’s been raised by her loving father and grandmother since her mother’s death when Danielle was still a toddler. Her dad meant well, but his frustration at seeing his only daughter becoming an old maid made him desperate to find her a husband – any husband. Rose, her grandmother, had survived the Mauthausen concentration camp in World War II, and she carried the secrets of her time there to her grave. The two romantic interests in Danielle’s life – Jacob and Clifford, are as opposite as night and day. Jacob, who seemed to be a decent enough fellow, did a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde change as soon as the wedding was over. Clifford, however, was just the opposite – a loving, sensitive man who was searching for his perfect soul mate.

The most uplifting and poignant moment of the story came as Danielle’s and Rose’s lives came full circle to bring a measure of closure to both of their ordeals.

- Mom in Love with Fiction

On the surface, Danielle Landau has it together: she just recently passed the New York bar exam and is about to marry a guy her family likes. The problem, she’s not in love. She looks past all the warning signs about Jacob, her new husband, in the hopes that things will get better. They don’t. One evening, Jacob’s controlling behavior escalates and pushes past what Danielle can overlook.

Thanks to the support of her Nana, who has been through a life most of us can’t fathom, Danielle flees to California and starts over. There she begins to heal, passing the California bar exam and joining the District Attorney’s office. When she becomes involved with a client with a similar situation, Danielle finds the courage and strength to get justice for her client and a sense of closure for herself.

Along the way, she meets Cliff. He brings the element she wasn’t sure she’d ever find, a real and protective love. One she hadn’t known since losing her Nana.

Although the story is told from Danielle’s point of view, it’s interlaced with diary entries from her Nana detailing the horrors of World War II. The author effectively switches back and forth, using both women to show the “story of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately about love.”

But because I was reading Danielle’s story alongside Nana’s, it was even harder to accept Danielle’s fate. Today, woman  have so much more power to avoid situations like Jacob. The warning signs weren’t small. In fact, they were glaring. I couldn’t help but compare Nana’s situation, where she had no power and faced horrific world events, with Danielle’s situation, where she should have. I found myself aggravated with Danielle until she left. Then I saw the strength of her character, and I felt invested as a reader. By the end, I was a fan.

I commend the author for taking on very delicate subjects and not shying away from the horrors associated with them. The novel would benefit from better editing, but the story is powerful. I recommend it for readers who appreciate a raw and honest journey of strength and endurance.

- TOP 1000 REVIEWER

Danielle Landau is twenty-nine, and just reached her goal of passing the New York Bar Exam. Thing is her father thinks as a twenty-nine year old Jewish girl she should be married, but really that’s the last thing she really wants to do. When her father introduces her to Jacob Liebowitz she really isn’t interested in him, but her father thinks he would be the perfect catch for her, so after dating a while she agrees to marry him, but Jacob becomes a controlling, vile person and the only solace Danielle finds is in her job. She goes to her father, but he just tells her to go back home to her husband, but after an unspeakable act occurs she knows she has to get away. Will she ever be able to break free of Jacob, and find happiness?

“Against My Will” deals with a tough subject that many will relate to. Danielle was such a strong, independent, person, I was actually a bit surprised that she married Jacob, although I could understand that she really did it to please her father. It was hard to see this vibrant young lady fall prey to Jacob’s abuse, but we also see her regain her strength and become the person she was meant to be. She was able to move forward with her life and even get a chance at love. I found the diary entries of Rose to be quite interesting, and honestly it took me a while to figure out that Rose was actually Danielle’s Nana, which made the story so much more poignant. Overall, a compelling read that allows us to see a victim reclaim her life.

- J. Chambers,
Save one life, seed a generation!

“I had just taken the New York State Bar Exam. Since I just reached my goal of experiencing financial independence for the first time, marriage was definitely on my radar screen. But my father said it wasn’t right that a 29-year-old Jewish girl was not already married. At the time, maybe he was right. I had a closet full of bridesmaid dresses, enough diplomas to fill an entire wall, and a desk calendar that was counting down to my 30th birthday.” (p.13)

These are the thoughts running through Danielle Landeau’s mind as she gazes in the mirror in her dressing room. The marriage on the radar screen 10 months ago was about to become a reality. As she was getting dressed, she could hear the groomsmen going down the hallway outside of her door.
Her marriage, as she will soon find out, ends up being far from perfect, as her husband Jacob ends up being controlling and abusive. One day, Jacob pushes the limits and Danielle realizes that she has to get out of there. She enlists the help of Nana Rose, who helped raise Danielle. Rose has faced many challenges of her own, as she is a Holocaust survivor.

Intermixed with Danielle’s story are entries from Rose’s diary while she was in a concentration camp. I enjoyed this element of the book and reading both women’s stories. I was curious in the beginning how one of the genres listed for the book was romance, as that didn’t seem to relate to the subject matter. As I read the story though, the link became clear. If I had to use one phrase to describe this book, I would say that ultimately though, it is a story of survival.

This is Berkley’s first novel, although he has previously written four self-help books. I really enjoyed the way that he linked the lives and struggles of the main characters. Both Danielle and Nana Rose have very intriguing situations and this makes for a good read. “Against My Will” will hold your attention throughout as more and more secrets are revealed. I look forward to Berkley’s next novel!

- Rebeccas Reads

Benjamin Berkley masterfully confronts the unimaginable bringing awareness to a subject that is too often unreported.

- Denise Brown, Co- Founder and President,
Nicole Brown Foundation

Benjamin Berkley has broken new ground in his intricate novel about an abuse victim’s journey. Key character’s lives become inter- twined in unexpected ways in this poignant and satisfying novel.

- Jill Rathus, PhD Professor of Psychology,
Long Island University

Ben Berkley’s first novel links two women across generations as they struggle with the cruelty of domination and the urgency of self-respect.

- Edward McGlynn Gafney, Professor of Law,
Valparaiso School of Law