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The Weight of Ink

by Rachel Kadish

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish X
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
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  • Michelle M. (W. Warwick, RI)
    The Weight of Ink
    The Weight of Ink.
    The title of this book seduced me from the start. I was immediately drawn in by the discovery of the hidden cache of 17th century papers under the staircase and the ensuing investigation into who the scribe "Aleph" really was. At times I felt as if I were being physically jerked out of one time period and plunged into the next because I would become so wrapped up in the tale at that particular moment and I wasn't quite ready to time travel just yet.

    I think that's a testament to the brilliance of Kadish's writing. I could envision certain scenes with such clarity, whether it was the tiny room with the hearth where the Rabbi would dictate his letters to Ester, his Scribe, or the rough streets of the Jewish community as the Plague encroached; the sights, the sounds, the SMELLS, Kadish transported me across the centuries to walk those cobblestoned streets alongside Ester, especially when she would visit the book-filled street stalls or go to the bookbinders!

    Sure, there were moments when I thought the book was growing ever larger even as I was reading it(!), but in hindsight, in my opinion anyway, there isn't much you could strip away without affecting the overall atmosphere and power of the story. Ester's character is extremely intelligent. She's a survivor. Imagine not being able to pursue your love of reading/writing simply because you're a woman? Unimaginable! Helen Watt, the professor, seems a not-so-lovable curmudgeon but we discover there's more to her than meets the eye as her relationship with her assistant, Aaron Levy, unfolds during the investigation and we also learn why she has that sketch of Masada on her office wall.

    This was a thoroughly engrossing read. I really loved this book, however, the ending left me wanting; a little sad, maybe a little anticlimactic because I was expecting (hoping) for a somewhat different finish. Or maybe it was just that I finished it bleary-eyed at 3am and had to be in work in a few hours. But isn't that the time most of us finish the books we enjoy the most?
  • Ann D. (Clearfield, PA)
    The Title Sold Me
    The Weight of Ink is a book that found me. I was looking for the book that would draw me in at page one and keep me riveted the whole way did. Rachel Kadish is an incredible writer, who after 560 pages left me wanting more. Each character was so believable, their voices so distinct, that I was sure that they were real. I would recommend this book to every lover of literature.
  • Kate S. (Arvada, CO)
    Love the title and the book!
    The Weight of Ink was a treat to read. The writing was lovely. So detailed; I felt like I was walking in the streets of London in 1665! The characters were well developed and it worked going back and forth from the two time periods (which does not always work in books).

    So much to discuss, it would be a perfect book club selection. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.
  • Colleen A. (Rome, GA)
    The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
    If you like a novel that encompasses richly drawn characters and a historical mystery, you will enjoy this book as I did. As for the style, both the 1660 narrative, as well as the 2000 storyline are equally compelling. Ester's restricted role as a woman, the confines of the Jewish community and the horrors of the Plague are examples of how descriptive writing transports the reader to everyday life in 1665 London. Over three hundred years later, even though they posses more freedom, Helen and Aaron mull over their inner thoughts, fears and actions. They face restraints of a modern nature. Whenever a book makes me curious enough about a subject to do more research, it has a lot to recommend it. This novel is a great reminder of the legacy of the written word, ink on paper.
  • Ilyse B. (Howell, NJ)
    Great Historical Fiction
    The Weight of Ink was a wonderful historical novel. It was obvious that the author did a tremendous amount of research into her subject and she was able to present this information in a story that moved along at a brisk pace. There were two timelines in this story, and as is not always the case, both were interesting and held my attention. Would recommend this for anyone who likes to feel as if they have been transported to another time and place in their reading.
  • Therese X. (Calera, AL)
    Pen and Paper Speaking Volumes
    This novel begins as a modern story but its roots are deep in the seventeenth century. While the Eastons are renovating their newly-inherited four hundred year old house in London, an electrician uncovers handwritten documents under an old carved staircase. He assumes the writing is Arabic and fearing a far-fetched terrorist plot, he stops his work until it is officially resolved, not realizing the papers are dated three hundred years ago. Ian Easton knows the writing is Hebrew and assumes some are in "Spanish" (actually Portuguese) and contacts his former professor, Helen Watt, who specializes in historical documents, particularly the London Jewish community at the time of the Great Plague (1665-66).

    What begins as a routine verification turns into a deep investigation of the Jewish migration via Amsterdam to London after The Inquisition in Portugal. One rabbi, HaCoen Mendes escaped although blinded and hired a scribe named Aleph to record his religious knowledge and experiences. But who was Aleph, the diligent and elegant scribe? Helen Watt is the perfect "investigator" to unravel the mysterious documents, but she needs the help of a younger graduate student, Nathan Levy, who is fluent in Hebrew and Portuguese of this time period and very adept on a computer. Although not Jewish herself, Helen has a history of her own which reaches as far as Masada.

    The Weight of Ink portrays a history of the London Jewish community and their social times and traditions in an engrossing mystery tale and how the Jewish people struggled to carry their history with them to a new land. Highly recommended.
  • Erica M. (Chicago, IL)
    The Weight of Ink is an intellectual challenge of the best sort
    My initial response as I closed the book was "Wow! Just Wow!" Two stories are interwoven with each other - one from 2000 and one from 1659. A cache of papers is found and sold to a university for study. The stories are the analysis of those pages and the backstory to how they came to be. But to understand those studying the pages, we need the backstories of those doing the studying. The stories are those of the love of the written word and the ability to study, analyze, understand. Very often I feel that a book of over 500 pages is about 200 pages too long, but this one worked. The stories could hardly have been told in less and be as alive and vibrant as they were. The fact that the writing was compared to A.S. Byatt hooked me. It was a good comparison.
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