It’s Erev Shabbat

It seems appropriate that I have a short selection of Jewish books to write about today, when I have to hurry and then get ready for Shabbat/Shabbos (and no, I amn’t entirely consistent about which of those I use).

48. With This Ring by Sarah Kisner

Hm, does my getting frustrated by the characters in a book perhaps say more for the book than I generally assume it does? When I get annoyed at them not taking the obvious step that would solve their problems (like family members actually talking to each other or (in the Jewish novels) asking their Rabbi for advice) is that just them behaving as real people do, much as we shouldn’t? Certainly (as I’m noticing again in Alice Adams, that I’m currently listening to (not this minute, as I couldn’t concentrate on both) by Booth Tarkington), it’s when the protagonists fall down in these basic areas, and/or in their care or attitude towards others, that I find myself disliking the main characters. And perhaps it is me. Perhaps the old adage is right, in that we see the faults in others that we struggle with ourselves (although I think I do see some faults that aren’t mine too).

So not a bad novel, just characters I was neither relating nor aspiring to. I was a bit put off by the title, as well, (as were others I spoke to about the book). It’s largely about a father in trouble in the diamond trade, and a daughter getting used to putting her marriage first, so I can see why they used the phrase, but it jars.

(Ooh look, I did tell you what the book is actually about! I’ve had several verbal comments that I should do that more often on the blog, rather than focussing so much on my own reactions to the book, which often have more to do with the themes than the content. Thoughts, please?)

49. The Disappearing Dowry by Libi Astaire

I really enjoyed this short historical mystery. Set in Regency England, it’s apparently the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to the rest. It seems well researched, without shoving the research down the reader’s throat (always a balance historical novels need to be wary of). I amn’t someone who seeks out mysteries as a genre, but I enjoy them sometimes, when well put together. The book is told in first person narrative by a likeable character (which as above is important to me).

Zahav Press appear to be trying to take small paperbacks into the Jewish market, and if they’re going to be this good I’m all for it! (This book was one I kept to travel with, so I’m pretty sure it’s misplaced on the list chronologically, but nevermind that. It didn’t last long, but was easy to fit into hand luggage.)

50. The Secret of Jewish Femininity by Tehilla Abramov

Well written, clear in its guidance and not-overly cloying in its encouragement. It was highly recommended to me, and I can see why. Definitely a topic to learn with a qualified teacher, however, with this as a textbook, rather than only from the book (and the book says the same).

Repeating the question from above: Would blog readers prefer I say more about the content of the book as a regular thing, rather than focussing on my reaction(s) to it? (Not promising to change, but I’d be interested.)

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One Response to “It’s Erev Shabbat”

  1. Rereading mysteries « Kaet's Weblog Says:

    […] As I’ve said here before, this is a well-written and well-researched historical mystery, set in early 19th century London among the Jewish community. It seems clear enough to be enjoyable both by those who know Jewish law and custom well, and those who don’t at all, and it uses the narrative voice of a sheltered teenage girl cozily but not cloyingly. I have been looking for the sequel since January (I emailed the publishers last Autumn to find out when it’d be out, and that’s what they said then), but the bookshops don’t have it listed or available yet, annoyingly, so perhaps I should try the publishers again… […]

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