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Jerusalem Maiden: A Novel

Jerusalem Maiden: A Novel

4.1 23
by Talia Carner

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“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


“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.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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3 MB

Meet the Author

Talia Carner is the former publisher of Savvy Woman magazine and a lecturer at international women's economic forums. This is her fourth novel.

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Jerusalem Maiden 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
BookSakeBlogspot More than 1 year ago
Jerusalem Maiden is the third book in a row that I have read that deals with a strong female protagonist. I may be running out of nice things to say about these women and their strength, but I have to say that this story deserves praise. It also happens to be the second story of a female leader set in Israel, but this story is set in more modern times, just after the turn of the century. With that being said the story of these people, the Haredi was really fascinating, and a side of Judaism that I have never really experienced. Esther's struggles were not only with what her family and culture expected, but her own personal beliefs in God, and how they could bring so much heartache as well as joy. There is also a love story that spans decades, but is so unassuming that you really don't see it play a major role until more than halfway through the book. I really liked this because it allowed for Esther's story to be her own, and not center on her relationships. The sacrifices Esther makes over and over in the name of God and for her family are astonishing, and her character is so well written I really wanted there to be more of her story. The author also managed to incorporate one of my other favorite settings: Paris, into Esther's story, so really this novel was a hit with me. Reviewed by Gabi for Book Sake.
AyeletHL More than 1 year ago
Excellent read. Very well written.
nyauthoress More than 1 year ago
Can a woman's desire to become an artist in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish culture of 1911 come true? Having a voice or form of self-expression is a constant struggle for feisty Esther living in the midst of a repressive society. The Haredi community of Jerusalem Maiden allows no independence for women apart from their fathers or husbands. Women are expected to bear children, cook, do laundry and be obedient. Esther anticipates a life of marrying young and having many sons to hasten the arrival of the Messiah. When she discovers her artistic talent, she feels duty bound to suppress it in order to follow God's path as dictated by her religious leaders. Award-winning author, Talia Carter, formerly the publisher of Savvy Woman Magazine, is the author of Puppet Child and China Doll. Ms. Carter is a voice for social issues such as domestic violence and infanticide in China. The book is an excellent mirror of Orthodox Jewish culture in the early twentieth century. Descriptive images abound: fried Shabbat challah sprinkled with sugar, squawking chickens hanging by their feet in the market, hair coated with olive oil then draped over the ears in a braid. Esther struggles throughout the book with her desire to be an artist and the demands placed upon women by the religious community. Her teacher claims art sets a person free. "But that was reserved only for those free to paint in the first place. Why was God making His gift so hard to carry out?" Esther's guilt pangs increase when she falls in love outside with someone outside of her religious community. Esther's doubts and devotion are a constant struggle for her. Although Jerusalem Maiden assumes a reader's understanding of ultra-Orthodox Jewish beliefs, its message is universal for those repressed by society, religious order, or self-induced guilt. LibraryThing and Harper Collins supplied the advance review copy. The opinions expressed are unbiased and wholly that of the reviewer. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
melamia More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book.
snowshoe27 More than 1 year ago
Jerusalem Maiden is a wonderful book. I loved the historical feel of the book and the story Ester revealed through her struggles with the strict laws of her religion, her places in the world as a female, and her on beliefs that a person should be happy in life. Esther's story kept me reading all night as the book takes us through several decades. I would like to highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good novel that keeps you wondering where this young woman's life will take her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found the main character to be irritating and irresponsible for her own actions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3ThroughHistory More than 1 year ago
This is not an incantation of the hateful rhetoric that is associated with the title. Rather. it is us Jews that ask the question, “What limits are justifiably placed on our lives by our laws?” For more than half, probably far more than half, of all Jews, this is no archaic throwback; it’s a real issue. Many Jews, Muslims, and animists – practitioners of any “traditional” faith except Christianity – must choose whether or not to be bound by a tradition that is written in the Voice of God. What if who God authentically created you to be is at absolute odds with the laws that your culture demands that you practice? This is the question asked of Esther, the Jerusalem Maiden of the title. Esther feels her senses, acutely. She tastes things in color. She sees colors in action on paper, and the sensations of womanhood will roll over her in four dimensions. Every instant pops, washes, dances, tickles, or cries itself across her senses as the thing and its derivative in time. As a young girl in Meah Shearim, the most hateful corner of the most rigid city outside the Caliphate, her father lets her learn secular (horror!) subjects at the hand of a Mlle. Thibaux. Her best friends, Ruthi and Asher, also fight against the strictures of the Haredi vise grip. Ruthi fughts by committing suicide, and Asher, by exiling himself to Europe where he becomes one of its most celebrated conductors. As for Esther, she battles against her artistic talent and passionate nature. She tries, really tries, to honor her husband, with whom she has three (he believes four) children. But she winds up in Paris, meets her tutor and the tutor’s illegitimate but brilliantly talented son, who is just a few years her junior. There, she dicovers that a painting of Jerusalem that she did as a child hangs in the Louvre. There is a shift in voice that occurs when the book flashes forward to present day. The poignancy of being free to be who you are, but choosing obligation over integrity, practically drenches the pages of this imporrtant literary novel with its tears and its blood. History, and the might-have-beens, will leave any perceptive reader moved. I’m no stranger to this discussion myself, having pursued a fine arts career only to leave a broken marriage and financial ruin in the wake of that vessel. Did Esther have regrets at the end? You will wonder – because the answer is never given. Neither is the answer to the only question that matters more than the “Jewish question” of this book. The only question really worth sacrificing for is the question of love. If I have one minor beef with the book, it is that the author, Talia Carner, is uncompromising in her hostility to the people of Meah Shearim. The only person in the whole novel for whom the mores of the Haredi hold any joy is the person whose fate it is to escape from them. Still, this book is a great achevement. I think that I will remember it long after my own output has been forgotten.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I read a good book I want to be swept into the world of the protagonist, to discover the inner workings of that time and place, and to learn about something I had known little about. I want to cheer the protagonist as she makes the long journey and stay with her throughout the ups and downs, the struggles and the hurdles--until the final triumph. I want to be there when the triumph turns out to be short-lived because the forces that shape her life might be greater than her spirit--or witness as she conquered them as well..... All this I've found in JERUSALEM MAIDEN. With fluid prose, unflinching excellent descriptions, fine-eye to detail and ear to dialogue, Talia Carner has created a story that is both unique and compelling. I could not put down the book, yet did not want it to end. But end it did, with two dramatic, emotional-filled events. Then came the final test of a good book, which made this novel the greatest literary feat: The story stayed with me for days. Esther walked in the paths of my brain and heart. The moral, religious and psychological questions kept haunting me with their possible answers. They challenge me as few thought-provoking novels ever do. Hurray, author Carner!
MemaDL More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. The story was very interesting and educational even though I am a Jew, but of a different sect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My great aunt lent this to me and I read it in two days because I couldn't stop! Now I have so many questions about my family's history. Can't wait to talk to my aunt about her childhood!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading Jerusalem Maiden, learned many things about the various sects. What I found a bit disturbing is how a mother could leave her children to lead the life she always longed for.
chloesmomst More than 1 year ago
This book grabs you and keeps you. It is a historical novel. I loved the main character and was loving the book until close to the end when I felt "the maiden" made a odd decision for a loving mother. I don't want to give away too much. When I finished the book disappointed with the main character, I realized I loved the book and I would not have cared about her decision if I was so involved in the story. READ IT!
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1911 Jerusalem, the Kaminsky family like their ancestors for generations is Haredi Jews who believe in a strict interpretation of the Torah. The Haredi adhere to a divided by gender lifestyle with males studying and enforcing Torah while females stayed at home to raise children and praying one will be the Messiah or sit behind curtains. Esther Kaminsky wants to break the restrictions as she desperately wants to pursue art in France; of which she has shown a propensity. However, her family expects her to marry a good Haradi man and bear children with him as they will raise their offspring in the same way she was raised. When her mother dies, her hope to escape her expected life dies too. Obeying her father as she feels guilty that God punished her family due to her dreams and her forbidden activities, Esther marries a modern Jaffa Jew, sending her away from the city she loves. In 1924 circumstances and a miraculous opportunity enable Esther to travel to Paris. She muses about God working in mysterious ways as affirmed by her roundabout way to come to the city she dreamed of studying art in until her mom died. This is a delightful historical tale of the life of a Jewish woman raised in Jerusalem during the last days of the Ottoman Empire as Jews "bloom the desert". Esther is a terrific individual who believes her dreams and other actions led directly to the family tragedy as God punished her for failing to follow scripture. Although the ending seems weak compared to the travels of Esther to get there, fans will relish this deep spotlight on being Jewish in the early twentieth century Holy Land. Harriet Klausner
MacJew More than 1 year ago
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.
duchenf More than 1 year ago