- My family on my mother’s side has Jewish blood and anything that has to do with Jerusalem, Bethlehem or pre-world war Jews in book form fascinates me.
Summary from Goodreads:
The poignant, colorful, and unforgettable story of a young woman in early 20th-century Jerusalem who must choose between her faith and her passion, Jerusalem Maiden heralds the arrival of a magnificent new literary voice, Talia Carner. In the bestselling vein of The Red Tent, The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns, Jerusalem Maidenbrilliantly evokes the sights and sounds of the Middle East during the final days of the Ottoman Empire. Historical fiction and Bible lovers will be captivated by this thrilling tale of a young Jewish woman during a fascinating era, her inner struggle with breaking the Second Commandment, and her ultimate transcendence through self-discovery.
Jerusalem Maiden was not at all what I expected. I think after reading some fairly heavy Jewish stories in the last year I was expecting another similar to those, but instead got a very approachable, easy to read story about a young Jewish girl pre-WWI.
This isn’t a bad thing though. I’m familiar with some Jewish traditions and rituals, but this book took them all to a new level with the strictness Esther and her family lived by those rules. Just being kosher wasn’t even – but being raised, as a female, to be the “salvation” of the Jewish race and having all that weight put on you – I can’t even imagine.
I did struggle with the book a bit, and I can’t really recommend this book to those who are looking for a more religious themed novel due to some rather graphic sexual scenes and choices made by Esther. In a way, the story reminded me of another of my favorites, A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka, except this story lacked the charm and fairy-tale like quality that book had, which made it seem more heavy.
I found Esther’s story to be a tragic one and, while I wasn’t sorry to see the story come to an end (it was just really depressing), I am glad I read this book just for the information I received about a time I really haven’t read that much about and a sect of the Jewish people I knew very little about.
About the Author
Talia Carner was the publisher of Savvy Woman magazine. A former adjunct professor at Long Island University School of Management and a marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies, she was also a volunteer counselor and lecturer for the Small Business Administration and a member of United States Information Agency (USIA) missions to Russia. She participated at the 1995 International Women’s Conference in Beijing, where she sat on economic panels and helped develop political campaigns for Indian and African women. Ms. Carner’s first novel, PUPPET CHILD, was listed in “The Top 10 Favorite First Novels 2002” and launched a nationwide legislation (The Protective Parent Reform Act) that became the platform for two State Senatorial candidates. CHINA DOLL made Amazon’s bestsellers list and served as the platform for Ms. Carner’s presentation at the U.N. in 2007 about infanticide in China—the first ever in U.N. history. Over 30 of Carner’s short stories and dozens of award-winning essays have appeared in The New York Times, anthologies, and literary magazines. Her new novel, JERUSALEM MAIDEN, to be released in June 2011, deals with the place of women in extremely religious societies.
Ms. Carner is a board member of HBI, a research center for Jewish women’s life and culture at Brandeis University, and an honorary board member of several domestic violence and child abuse organizations. Her addictions include chocolate, ballet, hats—and social justice.
Talia Carner and her husband Ron have 4 grown children and reside in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, NY.
For more reviews on Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner, please follow the book tour.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from TLC Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”