A Delightful Compendium Of Consolation

A Delightful Compendium Of Consolation

by Burton L Visotzky

Paperback

$18.95
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, October 24

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934730201
Publisher: Ben Yehuda Press
Publication date: 03/01/2008
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

A Delightful Compendium of Consolation : A Fabulous Tale of Romance, Adventure and Faith in the Medieval Mediterranean 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Jeanomario on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a LOT of trouble with this book and yet there were some charming aspects to it. The characters, for example, had interesting personalities. I love the art of letter-writing and stories that unfold in this format can be tantalizing because you feel voyeuristic in reading them. This book, however, was often railroaded by the letters. They were dense and meandering. I became disinterested many times, yet pushed on because i typically love books set in medieval times. It has taken me a long time, with many books read concurrently. I don't recommend it unless readers have specific background in Jewish History and Studies.
pmarshall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I selected ¿A Delightful Compendium of Consolation¿ from Early Reviewers because the subject matter appealed to me. I like books that are letters, I like literary travel and I like to learn about Judaism. However none of this came together for me in this book. I just could not get into it and I tried more than once. The cover put me off, it is much to busy and it might have prevented me from buying the book, but I had this book in hand. Covers are meant to draw the reader in and this one didn't and neither did the flowery text. Reading the other reviews I realize I missed something interesting, but I couldn't find the hook.
janeajones on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed A DELIGHTFUL COMPENDIUM though I'm not sure it's a very good novel. By drawing on the literary treasures of the 11th century diasporic Jewish community in Northern Africa, the author gives his readers an invaluable window into the times and the cultures, not only of the Jewish rabbinic and Kuarite (which I had never heard of before) traditions, but also of the Fatimid Islamic caliphate and Coptic Christianity. Our educational system with its Eurocentric focus rarely examines the Middle Ages as it played out in Northern Africa. I found the history fascinating.The epistolary construction of the novel works best in the first part of the book which covers a period of a little over two years with the letter writers, Karimah, her father Dunash, and his spiritual mentor, Nissim, chronicling their lives on a fairly extensive basis. As the time stretches out in the second and third parts of the book, events are sketched in much less detail over fewer letters, and the personalities of the characters seem to pale. The major theme of the book is stated at the center of the book in Chapter 8: "Although it is not a text of the law our rabbis long ago reckoned that stories draw the hearts of men." As much as anything, this is a novel about storytelling -- the storytelling of the Midrash, of the 1001 Arabian Nights, of the stories that family members tell to each other, and of the stories that we all must tell to affirm our human connections, both within, and even more importantly outside of our local communities.
redwoodhs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I received through LibraryThing and I was, of course, fascinated by the title. When it came I was a little skeptical at first based on the cover and the nature of the book. It looked like a self-published tome and that also gave me pause.Once I started to read, however, I was hooked. This is not typical of the kind of book I enjoy but the story, which takes place in medieval North Africa, definitely grabbed me. I wanted to find out how this Jewish family, living in the midst of the Islamic world would fare. In the end it was a great way to learn about the history of a time and place I knew very little about.I can't vouch for the historical accuracy and there is a bit of a need to suspend one's disbelief but in the end the notion of a young woman making her way in this treacherous world made enough sense.I'd recommend the Compendium to those who like myths and legends as well as those who love historical fiction not so much for the history but for the story.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in motion when Karimah, the daughter of a Jewish merchant, runs off with a Muslim boy in the 11th century AD. Her father has declared her dead and the family sat shiva for her. But Karimah writes letters to her younger brother, creating wondrous tales for him of her travels. Meanwhile, her father finds consolation in exchanging letters with his friend, Rabbi Nissim, although he doesn't tell the Rabbi that Karimah isn't in truth dead. The compilation of all these letters mixed amongst each other make up the bulk of this compendium.While some of the adventures are entertaining, many of the letters also bog the story down. The history of the Jewish diaspora was interesting but without a thorough grounding in the history, the general reader would find it hard to seperate Visotsky's imaginings from recorded facts of everyday life. I wanted very much to like this but it was a struggle to work my way through it and ultimately I was disappointed.
lesvrolyk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿A Delightful Compendium of Consolation¿ certainly is ¿A Fabulous Tale of Romance, Adventure and Faith in the Medieval Mediterranean.¿ The Delightful Compendium is a series of letters written between a young Jewish girl, members of her family, and a Rabbi friend of the family. Karimah, the young Jewish girl, runs off with a Muslim boy at the beginning of the story. The letters she writes to her brother recount her many adventures. Her father is terribly disappointed in her actions and decides she is dead to him. His many letters are to his friend, Rabbi Nissim. Nissim¿s letters are filled with stories to offer comfort to the grieving father, thus the ¿Compendium of Consolation.¿ The first two thirds of the book are the most exciting. These relate Karimah¿s adventures in the desert and on the sea. I loved Karimah¿s stories. Many of them are from ¿1001 Arabian Nights¿, which I¿d just finished reading with my children and so was very familiar with. It was quite amusing to read Karimah¿s adventures and realize that she was ¿borrowing¿ from other sources. One example in particular that I enjoyed was her explanation of the term ¿Open, sesame!¿ She claims that her fellow sailors enjoy a hard, sticky candy made of sesame seeds and honey. This candy is so sticky that the sailors must pry their mouths open with their fingers and sometimes with sticks! They then joke each other by crying ¿Open, sesame!¿ Karimah is a witty, enjoyable character, full of spunk and rather more outgoing than I¿d imagined women of this era to be.In the last third of the book, Karimah settles down and the tone becomes more serious. The entire book is a fascinating look at what life was like for the Jewish communities in early AD1000. Burton Visotzky is a Jewish Scholar. He has based his story on actual letters from this era, found in a synagogue in Cairo, Egypt. If you have any interest in history or Jewish culture, I highly recommend this book. If you enjoy a good story, I also recommend it, but you are forewarned that it isn¿t an easy voyage. I found the map on page 2 and the ¿Notes On Sources¿ indispensable for my understanding of story. Don¿t forget about those resources, if you decide to tackle this amusing, yet challenging, story!
hlsabnani on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to this book as I love historical fiction. I also was attracted to the book because it is a "frame" story. However, it took several tries to get into the book. Once I got to page 60 or so, I was engaged enough to keep reading, but it took some dedication to get there. I found myself skipping a lot of the introductions to each letter as I did not feel they added a lot to the overall story. For me the lenghty beginnings to each letter broke up the flow. I also felt the "frame" was a little weak. I am guessing this is because the whole book is letters or journal entries so there wasn't an immediate connecting thread from page one. I did appreciate the stories (though some did not seem to connect to the overarching story as well) and the view into this historical time period. Karimah's voice grows stronger as the book went on.
NeedMoreShelves on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Delightful Compendium of Consolation is a fictional account based on actual documents discovered in the Cairo Geniza that date back to the ninth century. Several of the characters in the novel are real people, while others are fictional creations. Visotzky organizes his book as a series of letters between four of the main characters detailing the reaction of a family to a daughter's choice to run away with the man she loves, and the daughter's adventures away from the family.There were parts of this novel that I truly enjoyed. However, I often found the structure to be frustrating - just as I was getting into the story, the narrator changed, which disrupted the flow. I eventually found myself skimming through to get to the parts about Karimah, which I thought were the most interesting. I think my main problem was that I could never quite lose myself in the story because of the abrupt changes. I did find much of the historical information fascinating, and enjoyed learning more about a period of time I know little about. I am not sure I can say that I enjoyed this novel, but I can certainly appreciate the opportunity to read it. Thanks Early Reviewers and Ben Yehuda press!
dchaikin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A novel in letters of 11th century Judaism in North Africa, Visotzky put a lot of work into making this as factual as possible. He writes in the Postscript "This is a work of fiction. It is an historical novel, if that is not too much of an oxymoron. Yet it is precisely the blurred line between fact and fiction that I wished to explore here." I would argue the stress is on the fact. As a novel, it's OK, but as a window into in the time period and the culture it's wonderful.The set up are the real documents found in the Cairo Geniza, a collection of Hebrew script that was preserved in an old temple. Some of the documents may date back to the 9th century, and quite a few of them are letters. Visotzky took historical documents, characters and rabbinical stories from that period and then fleshed out this story. Even his fictional games have non-fictional counterparts. One character apparently lives through several tales straight out of Arabian Nights.What makes this so fascinating is what we learn. The letters have the language quirks and formality of that time. And through them we learn about the nature of the trading, financing, communication, the mixed cultures and politics of that time. And we learn it from a Jewish perspective, lived, as it was, in a perpetual state of uncertainty. Jews of the time also apparently lived in dedication to the study of Torah, Talmud etc., for we learn quite a bit about the variety of Jewish sects of the time and their arguments and literature. The arguments, stories and poetry presented are largely real, as are many of the Jewish characters.For me personally, this was precious little window into a time and place I know very little about; and that happens to be my own heritage.
barefeet4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At first I found myself getting bogged down by the introductions to the letters and the formalities. However, once I got into the meat of Karimah's adventures and picked up on some of the terminology I was able to enjoy it thoroughly. This book assumes a readership that has knowledge of Jewish customs and lexicon but does not exclude those who lack it.
delascabezas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first opened the package containing A Delightful Compendium of Consolation: A Fabulous Tale of Romance, Adventure and Faith in the Medieval Mediterranean, my initial fear was that I had just committed myself to a vanity press publication, whose content would be as wordy as the title suggested. After a solid read, I am pleased to say that Visotzky not only lives up to his title, in many ways, he exceeded it. As a fiction read, or as a historical perspective work, the book truly offers delights!The interweaving of large-scale historical drama in the context of Judeo-Christian-Muslim relations in the time and place of the story, combined with the author's choice in narrative technique (series of letters passed between the protagonists) provides a rich set of materials with which to weave a tale. Visotzky's interesting framing for the work (part true, part false), complete with archaeological excerpt, leaves the reader wondering just how much is history, and how much is fiction. At times, the limitations imposed by the choice in exposition vehicle is restricting to the reader's immersion in the action, this is often offset by, what I assume to be the intention of the author, who is trying to place the reader in the seat of the reader of the letter. This forces the reader to shift between what they know (or think they know) about protagonists, while, at the same time, allows for stylistic integrity in regards to the "voices" of the letters.Bypassing any spoiling details in the plot, one of the central pillars of the book which affected me most profoundly was the observations on the cyclical nature of and questions about the three religious groups which call their first roost the middle east. The plausibility of letters over a millennia old detailing the splits between the Sunni and the Shiite, or the Rabbinic or Kariaite Jews offers insight into divisions well beyond anything often discussed in a modern context. Pepper in a fledgling Christianity, which both co-opted and ruled over (in places) aspects of both these faiths, and you have a vibrant mélange of examinations of religious thought, often professed through the experience of the protagonists (who all share a Jewish perspective, but from very different vantage points).The letters, travels, and tribulations faced by the protagonists are offset by the exemplary capturing of a rich Rabbinic tradition - the sharing of proverbs as a form of teaching, consolation, enrichment, and entertainment. These tidbits are truly where the book shines brightest, and links back most deeply to its title. If you are a fan of medieval history, particularly based in the middle east, a fan of theological history, or a fan of narrative tales told through letters, you will be hard-pressed to go wrong with this book.
LeHack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am struggling to finish this book. The story itself could have been much easier to read if the author had abandoned the letter format and had occasional letters, perhaps the edited letters to her mother, included instead. The letters to Karamah's brother are the most informative as to what is really going on. I didn't get a lot from the letters between Dunash and Nissim. After a while, they all seemed to run together. Once Karimah had parted company with 'Smail, and the adventure started, the story became more interesting. I wish a larger map, rather than the tiny one at the beginning of Chapter One, had been included to make it easier to follow Karimah's travels. I was looking forward to receiving this book. I enjoy medieval fantasy and history of the medieval times. Again, with a different format, it would have been easier to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Delightful Compendium of Consolation is a fictional account based on actual documents discovered in the Cairo Geniza that date back to the ninth century. Several of the characters in the novel are real people, while others are fictional creations. Visotzky organizes his book as a series of letters between four of the main characters detailing the reaction of a family to a daughter's choice to run away with the man she loves, and the daughter's adventures away from the family. There were parts of this novel that I truly enjoyed. However, I often found the structure to be frustrating - just as I was getting into the story, the narrator changed, which disrupted the flow. I eventually found myself skimming through to get to the parts about Karimah, which I thought were the most interesting. I think my main problem was that I could never quite lose myself in the story because of the abrupt changes. I did find much of the historical information fascinating, and enjoyed learning more about a period of time I know little about. I am not sure I can say that I enjoyed this novel, but I can certainly appreciate the opportunity to read it.