In the slam-bang opening pages of her superb third novel, Dara Horn masterfully establishes both a gripping plot premise and a fascinatingly conflicted protagonist. She sends Jacob roaming across a war-torn landscape to encounter a marvelous variety of characters, each imagined with empathy and depth. The relatively conventional storytelling here is quite different from the kaleidoscopic narrative techniques Horn employed in her previous books, In the Image and The World to Come, but her scope is just as ambitious, her talents as prodigious as ever.
The Washington Post
A love story…replete with intercepted letters, fantastic coincidences and miraculous escapes. These implausible twists, in Horn's skillful hands, are not only forgivablethey're delicious.
The New York Times
A Civil War spy page-turner meets an exploration of race and religion in 19th-century America in Horn's enthralling latest. Jacob Rappaport, the 19-year-old scion of a wealthy Jewish import-export family, flees home and enlists in the Union army to avoid an arranged marriage. When his superiors discover his unique connections, he is sent on espionage missions that reveal an American Jewish population divided by the Mason-Dixon line, but united by business, religious and family ties. After being sent to assassinate his uncle in New Orleans on Passover, Jacob's next assignment proves even more daunting: marry the feisty Confederate spy Eugenia Levy. What starts out as a dangerous game for both Jacob and Eugenia ends up being a genuine romance, fraught with the potential for peril, betrayal, tragedy and redemption. Horn propels the love story at a thriller's pace; the mix of love and loyalty played out in a divided America is sublime. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Sometimes it only takes one night to change lives forever, often in ways that people only appreciate when reflecting from the distance of time. Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army, will forever ponder the age-old question asked around the Seder table: How is tonight different from all other nights? On Passover 1862, Jacob is ordered by a Union commander to kill his uncle (who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln), and this particular evening changes forever his view of religious tradition, love, and integrity. Horn, the award-winning author of The World To Come, has written a stunning historical novel that will challenge readers' preconceptions as they learn about the role of Jewish Americans during the Civil War. Her tale of Confederate Hebrew spies skillfully puts a new spin on a time period that has been researched and written about extensively. This timely book, coming on Lincoln's bicentennial year, is recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/08.]
Horn (The World to Come, 2006, etc.) details the adventures of a young Jewish spy for the Union. In the hours before Passover 1862, 19-year-old Jacob Rappaport emerges from a smuggler's barrel onto the New Orleans waterfront. The son of a wealthy New York merchant, he joined the Union Army to avoid an arranged marriage and has been sent South to kill his Uncle Harry, suspected (rightly) of planning to assassinate Lincoln. Jacob slips poison into his uncle's seder wine, and Harry expires spectacularly, vomiting black bile onto the silver trays. Regrettably, this is the most dramatic moment in the novel. Jacob's next assignment is to infiltrate a Virginia household and marry beautiful Rebel spy Eugenia Levy. Assisted by her three sisters, she's passing on military secrets blabbed by a Union officer too pompous to realize "that ladies also have brains." Horn's Dan Brown-like fascination with codes and passwords is unlikely to be shared by readers, nor is the romance terribly compelling. Jacob falls for Eugenia and succeeds in marrying her, but his ambivalent vacillations between shame and bravado make him a weak hero. Eventually the sisters are arrested and Eugenia is reported dead: more shame for Jacob, who has now betrayed his wife as well as killed his uncle. His mission is over, but the novel is only half finished. Jacob returns to the South as a regular soldier-primarily, one suspects, so Horn can work Grant's order to expel Jews into the plot. Crippled and partially blinded in an accident, Jacob volunteers for one last mission, which involves gaining the trust of Judah Benjamin, the Jewish brains behind the Confederacy in Richmond. Two big questions remain: Is Eugenia still alive? WillJacob be a fool for love? Make that three: Does anyone care?Turgid and meandering. Author events in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia
From the Publisher
"With only the inflections of his voice, Dufris makes real the cacophony of battle, the sounds of a slave auction, and the refined tones of a Southern drawing room." AudioFile
“A tale of adventure...betrayal and love, dignity and loss, that takes the breath away and makes the heart pound.”
“Starred Review: A triumph.”
The Los Angeles Times
“Vibrant and compelling.”
The Washington Post
“Slam-bang... superb...a gripping plot premise and a fascinatingly conflicted protagonist. …a marvelous variety of characters, each imagined with empathy and depth.”
New York Times Book Review
“Editor’s Choice: Engrossing . . . delicious.”
Wall Street Journal
“Rare and memorable.”
Los Angeles Times
“Vibrant and compelling.”
The Wall Street Journal
“An enjoyably fast-paced amalgam of historical romance, spy novel and political thriller . . . . rare and memorable.”
The New York Post
“Stellar. . . . the propulsive, suspenseful narrative of an espionage thriller, [and] the larger moral dilemmas Horn weaves into an epic.”
The Baltimore Sun
For a writer as young as Horn to be compared with Conrad shows what kind of league she's playing in.
Riveting…written in meticulous but energetic prose…Horn's most accomplished novel.