“Talia Carner is a skillful and heartfelt storyteller who takes the reader on journey of the senses, into a world long forgotten.”
—Jennifer Lauck, author of Blackbird
“Exquisitely told, with details so vivid you can almost taste the food and hear the voices….A moving and utterly captivating novel that I will be thinking about for a long, long time.”
—Tess Gerritsen, author of The Silent Girl
“Talia Carner’s story captivates at every level, heart and mind.”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
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 Maiden brilliantly 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.
Carner's engaging new novel opens in 1911 in an impoverished Jerusalem, home for many generations to the Kaminsky family, strictly observant Haredi Jews. Men study Torah; women bear children and keep house. On the verge of adulthood, Esther Kaminsky faces a dilemma: pursue art (she has talent) or do what is expected of her? She fantasizes about a full life, where she could marry and make art, but after her mother dies, her father forces her into marrying a "modern Jew" from Jaffa, exiling Esther from the Jerusalem she loves. Forward to 1924 when, after a series of implausible events, Esther ends up alone in Paris, a city the author idealizes to an unrealistic degree. Carner (China Doll), formerly the publisher of Savvy Woman magazine, renders Esther's world with great authority and detail, revealing intimate familial rituals within the larger political and socioeconomic context. But what begins as an earnest story of an introspective girl struggling to interpret God's will resolves disappointingly. The setting, concerns, and frequent Hebrew vocabulary will make this particularly appealing to Jewish readers.
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It is an fascinating story. The descriptions of these women's lives made the history of Jerusalem come alive. I loved the main character and the twists in her life!