In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, a young Orthodox Jewish woman in the holy city of Jerusalem is expected to marry and produce many sons to help hasten the Messiah's arrival. While the feisty Esther Kaminsky understands her obligations, her artistic talent inspires her to secretly explore worlds outside her religion, to dream of studying in Paris - and to believe that God has a special destiny for her. When tragedy strikes her family, Esther views it as a warning from an angry God and suppresses her desires in order to become an obedient "Jerusalem maiden."
But when a surprising opportunity forces itself on to her preordained path, Esther finds her beliefs clashing dangerously with the passions she has staved off her entire life - forcing her to confront the most difficult and damning question of all: To whom must she be true, God or herself?
"A welcome glimpse into a little-understood world." - Kirkus Reviews
"[W]hat 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." - Publishers Weekly
"Jerusalem Maiden is a page-turning and thought-provoking novel. Extraordinary sensory detail vividly conjures another time and place; heroine Esther Kaminsky's poignant struggle transcends time and place. The ultimate revelation here: for many women, if not most, 2011 is no different than 1911, but triumph is nonetheless possible." - Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of The Scenic Route
"As bold and fragile as its main character, Jerusalem Maiden is at heart a story of revolution... Captivates at every level, heart and mind." - Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Second Nature
"Exquisitely told... a moving and utterly captivating novel that I will be thinking about for a long, long time." - Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Girl
"The author draws upon meticulous research to paint a picture of a cloistered community that is both immersive and accessible to outsiders. With an exceptional handle on both place and time, the author lets readers into a foreign world through the eyes of a marvelously human heroine.... This heartbreaking work could be enjoyed by many readers." - Publishers Weekly editors after Jerusalem Maiden was named a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
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Rated of 5
Do Not Miss This Book!
It’s rare to find a book where you want to find out how the story ends, but you hold yourself back because you don’t want to leave the world the author has created. Jerusalem Maiden is just such story.
When the novel begins, Esther Kaminsky is living Jerusalem during the last days of the Ottoman Empire. She is one of several children, and she is fixing to come of age and be married off so that she have children and usher in The Messiah. Esther has a longing to become an artist, but she is torn between her faith and her duty to her people. This is a time when Jews still viewed Israel as the right of The Messiah and far into the future. Zionists were viewed with disdain by the Religious Establishment, so a woman who would rather practice art rather than have a family was taboo.
When her mother becomes sick from a blood infection, Esther makes a promise that she will give up her gift. She keeps this promise even after her mother dies, thinking it is G-d punishing her. Even she is given the chance to express herself again many years later, she does not want to admit to herself, or to others, that she is an artist.
This book’s central theme is about not denying who you truly are. In many ways, it recalls the works of Sholom Aleichem, whose work is best known through the stage adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof. The characters are simple people that the reader cannot help but love. The traditions, even when they seem outdated in the 21st century, make us long for a simpler time.
The only problem it has is that it does not come with a glossary for all of the Hebrew and Yiddish words that the author uses. Most times, the reader can figure it out based on context, or it has already be said, but in 400 pages, it would be night. Aside from that, this is a book that when you finish, it will be like you lost your best friend, so you will want start it all over again.
Rated of 5
A Walk Through Old Jerusalem
Blessed with the privilege to read JERUSALEM MAIDEN by Talia Carner prior to its Harper Collins release this coming June, I simply cannot contain my enthusiasm to review it.
Esther, the Jerusalem maiden, captures her readers with her innocence and ushers us right into experiencing life in early 1900 Jerusalem. We grow with her, empathize with her doubt and devotion, and urge her to make right decisions as we swiftly turn pages to see what comes next. It seems not one thought is left untold.
As a Christian, a follower of Yeshua, I ached for her to know the Father’s unconditional love and cursed the traditions of men that caused her so much pain and suffering.
I couldn’t put JERUSALEM MAIDEN down and highly recommend it. While some of her self-discovery might offend a “church lady”, I found Esther’s story true to life and love. I thoroughly enjoyed every page even though many brought me to tears as I shared Esther’s pain; I also laughed aloud with her.
Ms. Carner paints lovely pictures with her words and woos me to find everything else she has written. This is an amazing, well written story that I do not hesitate to recommend or award a five star review!
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. Her first novel, Puppet Child 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...
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