UNFORGETTABLE DEBUT NOVEL IS A RICHLY EVOCATIVE AND BOUNDLESS LOVE STORY THAT REVERBERATES FROM BIBLICAL TIMES TO THE MODERN WORLD.
Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone has toiled at Israel’s storied battlegrounds of Megiddo for twelve years, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed deliver the life-altering message she craves. Which is why she risks her professional reputation when a young Arab couple begs her to excavate beneath their home. Ibrahim and Naima Barakat claim the spirits of two lovers overwhelm everyone who enters with love and desire. As Page digs, she makes a miraculous discovery—the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah locked in an eternal embrace with a mysterious woman. Buried with the entwined skeletons is a collection of scrolls that challenge centuries-old interpretations of the prophet’s story and create a worldwide fervor.
Caught in a forbidden romance of her own, and under siege from religious zealots and relentless critics, Page endangers her life to share the lovers’ story with the world. But in doing so, she discovers she must let go of her own painful past. Called a “zesty debut” by Kirkus Reviews, Zoë Klein’s historically rich novel is a lyrical and unexpected journey as poignant and thought-provoking as the beloved bestsellers The Red Tent and People of the Book.
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About the Author
ZOË KLEIN pursued the rabbinate out of a passion for ancient texts, mythology, liturgy and poetry. Zoë Klein has written for Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Tikkun. She has written chapters in a number of collections including The Women’s Torah Commentary and Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation. Her poetry and prayers are used in houses of worship around the country and has appeared as a commentator on the History Channel in “Digging for the Truth.” She lives with her family, where she is the senior rabbi of a large congregation.
Read an Excerpt
Drawing in the Dust
There is no blemish on the glow which surrounds you like a metal shield. But what good is a shield if the hurt is inside?…O Lord, let his heart break and begin to heal rather than this perpetual and terrible swell!
—THE SCROLL OF ANATIYA 4:42–47
I always wake before sunrise, at least two hours before any of my three housemates. I sit up in bed and stretch, kick off my covers. The polished limestone floor is cold, sending a shiver from my feet all the way up my spine, and it delights me. The light sifting through the window is soft and inviting, as if the house floats inside a lavender cloud. I pull on shorts, a tank top, and slide my white bandana over my hair. I lather my face, arms, legs with sun lotion. The air has the chill of white wine. I’ve seen sunlamps for people with seasonal depression, so that in the long, dark winters when their sadness peaks, they can replicate bright days and feel healed. I’d rather retire to a room with a gentle moonlamp, whirring metal fan, and dewy humidifier. I pull on my socks, my sneakers.
I patter down the hall. The door to our supervisor Norris’s suite is ajar. He always sleeps with it a little open, as if tempting someone to come in. I can see his jeans and belt hanging over the back of his desk chair as I pass by. A picture of Mickey and Orna on their wedding day hangs on their closed door. In the picture Mickey is wearing a light brown suit and lopsided bow tie that look like they and the groom had just arrived in Israel off a boat from Russia, which isn’t too far from the truth. He is bending his voluptuous sabra bride, Orna, a little bit backward, her raven black hair wild with curls, and resting his head just above her cleavage. Mickey always said he fell in love with her because she had “the ripest breasts in the Fertile Crescent…and a heart to match.” A wooden plaque hangs from their doorknob reading in Hebrew birkat habayit, “blessing of the home.”
I am the house ghost, in a way, spooking my way through the living room. Norris’s leather chair, so out of place in a room of institutional-style furniture, is opened in a reclining position with a thin blanket spread over the arm and a rummaged newspaper at its feet. I can imagine him sitting here, as he often does late at night, drinking tea and watching reruns of Baywatch on Lebanese television. In the kitchen I drink a glass of grapefruit juice. I make a sandwich, roasted eggplant and turkey tucked into pita, and take a canteen of ice out of the freezer, pack them in my knapsack along with my tools, and head to the door.
There is a note pinned to the door that reads, “P—Dinner with Jerrold March tonight at 8. Prepare to present on shaft tombs.—N.” I feel a tide of fury rise in me, not at the idea of dinner with Mr. March, one of our most generous sponsors. I’ve met with him many times whenever I’ve returned to New York, and he is always a perfect gentleman from the tip of his mustache to his deftness with a salad fork, harmlessly flirtatious after a few glasses of wine. It is easy to melt into his luxurious world, and fun to bring him into the world he funds, my dirty world of chamber pots and ceramic coffins. I’m not angry even at Norris’s directive, although I already knew about dinner. I already have sketches to show Jerrold of official seals, basins, statuettes, and ivories, maps indicating where we’d found the three thousand infant burial jars. Norris knows I’m always prepared. We have been working here together for more than a decade. It is that the note is written on the back of the title page of my last book, an act obviously intended to upset me. The page had been crumpled in his most recent fit, and then, I suppose, he smoothed it out to use it as scratch paper. To let me know how little he thinks of it, or me.
It’s not worth spending the most beautiful time of the day fuming over him. He’s been playing these games for so many months I’m practically numb to them. When I step outside, closing the door softly behind me, my anger dissolves in the wet, clean, and shimmering air. I love the early morning. Pine trees cast long shadows across the road and clouds stained deep grape and plum are strewn messily over the horizon, as if someone hadn’t yet cleaned up the table linens after a giant party.
It is a two-mile walk to the tell. Every working morning I take this walk, leaving my old white Mazda in the driveway like a beached baby beluga. The air is tinged with rosemary, mint, and diesel. I try to drink in the coolness as I walk, knowing the sun will soon sizzle it all to chalk. There is a mist of sparkles over my clothes and my skin. The little hairs on my arms have been alchemized by the sun to fine gold. My naturally pale skin is gilded by exposure, despite my devotion to applying and reapplying lotion. I feel lean and able striding up the road, my mind clear. I enjoy the long stride of my body every morning before settling into a day of crouching in dirt.
The Judean Hills lie languid over the horizon and birds are winging between the pines. There is a Bedouin woman pulling up herbs down a stony slope. She is swathed in a long black robe, chanting in Arabic:
Fear not if you wander the barley fields after there has been a good rain
And you find an old lover who was slain long ago has risen to meet you again.
I can see the museum at the bottom of the hill. I’ve been working in Megiddo for twelve years, in the heart of the Jezreel Valley in the north of Israel. Every year nearly four million tourists visit this very place. It is an extraordinary site. Megiddo is a hill that spans about fifteen acres, made up of thirty cities built one on top of the other over six millennia, beginning with the prepottery Neolithic period nine thousand years ago.
The wrestlings of my own heart should be overshadowed in this valley of death. At least thirty-four nations have battled in this place, with enormous slaughters. This is where Pharaoh Thutmose III fought the first battle known in recorded history anywhere in the world. The author of the Book of Revelation predicted that in the end of days, the battle between good and evil will ultimately take place here. In fact, the word Armageddon is a corruption of the Hebrew phrase Har Megiddo, Mount of Megiddo.
Modern Israel is no stranger to conflict, and one doesn’t have to dig to remember. Every weapon created has been wielded here, and the newest generations, biological and nuclear, hang like Damocles’s sword over the young nation. To stay ahead, defense systems scurry to evolve from the technology of tunnels and walls. I’ve spent my career here underground with the ancients, without emerging much into today’s headlines. I’ve been less interested in the political and religious conflict of any century and more interested in personal practice, mostly studying Middle Bronze Age mortuary practices.
In the past, countless have lived, thrived, and then bled here until they became bone. Today, millions come to visit, including historic visits; the first visit of a pope to Israel took place here in Megiddo. Two hundred professionals dig here every working day. Norris directs them all, and I supervise twenty archaeologists and volunteers concentrating on the temples of stratum XV and the elaborate shaft tombs.
But each morning, like this one, there is just me. The generations below me are silent, and the tour buses have not yet rumbled in. In the half light, the site is empty. I cross the museum parking lot and begin to climb the tell. The land is perfectly still and mute, guarding its deep treasures of seedlings, cemeteries, and secret gardens. When I dig my callused hands into the cool, predawn earth, I feel all of her richness tingle through my skin. Before dawn the land always seems to yield, hinting that, with just the right touch, everything dormant in her might awaken, push through its black chambers, and Ezekiel’s field of bones would drink the moist sky.
I walk through the remains of Solomon’s stables, the rows of dark cold arches. I imagine the din of whinnying and neighing echoing through the ancient hall. Sparse, thorny grasses and sharp foliage poke through the stones.
As I emerge from the maze of stables, the horizon wears a crown. The sun is just rising. I kneel beside my most recent project, the three thousand and seventy-second infant burial jar we’ve unearthed. I put down my knapsack and unroll my pack of tools: a small pickax, a toothbrush, variously sized paintbrushes, and fine dental tools. The jar is shaped like a womb, the corpse inside curled toward the entry. How disappointing for them to be delivered not by some messiah to life everlasting but by me, to a mention in my field notes. I begin to gently dust the rim of the jar, thinking.
It is hard for me to believe that I am thirty-nine years old. Looking at the swollen shape of the jar, I involuntarily draw my hand over my stomach. I used to wonder what it would be like to be round and full like that instead of empty, flat. To carry life inside me. I don’t think about it much anymore. I have never gotten myself tested to see if I have the Lou Gehrig’s gene like my father, like my grandfather. I tremble at the thought of bequeathing my fear to another, if not my child, then his or hers, a Damocles sword over all my generations. And at the same time…
I sigh. The sky that had sagged so sweetly, as if the Kingdom of Heaven’s doormat was just within reach, is pinned back into place by a fiery thumbtack. I labor over the jar and its crumbled contents. “You would be, I’d estimate, three thousand years old today,” I say. Some scholars have written that these are the remains of child sacrifices from an ancient cult. It’s possible, I shrug to myself. Infant mortality rates were astronomically high. Still are in many places. “I don’t know,” I say out loud to no one. “Either way, you probably weren’t going to make it to your three-thousandth birthday anyhow.” I begin to hear the buzz of insects as the sun climbs, doing their jobs as well. Diggers are beginning to arrive. Soon my team will assemble and I’ll direct them. I pull out my notebook and lean in close to the jar, sketching the details.
“The early bird gets the urn, eh?”
I sit back. Norris is standing over me, eclipsing the sun. I squint a little. He’s smiling, so I smile back.
“Get my note?” he asks, tilting his head. I remember the crumpled page of my book tacked to the door and the plume of heat it fueled in me. I used to stew over his mockery for days. I wonder for a moment if the fact that I’ve started to become used to it, that I can recover so quickly, is a bad sign. A sign I’ve accepted abuse as the norm. It wasn’t always this way.
Norris, my professor of Levantine archaeology at Columbia, had been a great supporter of my first book, Body of Water, Body of Air: Water and Theology in Ancient Israel. My second book, Up in Smoke, was based on my thesis, a study of cultic theology and connections between altars found in Israel, especially at Megiddo, and altars found throughout the Middle East, tracing borrowed cultic practices throughout the region. The new manuscript, Upon This Altar, was a follow-up to Up in Smoke. I did so much research, imprinting my eyes with microfilms of altars, that I began to see them everywhere. In the shape of my desk there was an altar. A baby’s pram was an altar. The park bench. I developed a new philosophy, which I tried to expound in my introduction to the book, exploring the idea that when there were no more altars in space, there would always be altars in time. That there are moments, precious and sacred, when something intangible but terrible is slain, and we are born into a new light. When it happens, the moment could be called forgiveness, or mercy, or even love.
I was delirious with confidence. I was ecstatic for its release. I had written it in a trance. It was, in retrospect, probably just a crappy little book. But it was important to me. I couldn’t wait to hear what my peers would think of my multidisciplinary approach.
As it turned out, no one thought very much of it. In fact, if anyone bothered to read the introduction, they didn’t understand it, or didn’t like it. One critic wrote, “One has to wonder what sort of incense burned on Brookstone’s own altar when she wrote her prologue.” But the worst criticism came from the one person I’d come to depend upon for unconditional support.
So sure was I that Norris would love my “altarism” philosophy that I denied his requests to read the early manuscript and made him wait until the book was actually published. The day a box full of books landed on our doorstep, I came home to find Norris holding up a copy, the veins rising to the surface of his scaly neck.
He said, “What the hell are you talking about? What do you think you are—some kind of New Age theologian? You going to start wandering around Jerusalem with the other lunatics? This is scholarship? This is a dozen years at Megiddo?”
Norris had never raised his voice to me, and only once had I heard him yelling on the phone at his ex-wife when he was in his bedroom with the door, for once, closed.
He continued in a mocking tone, reading from the introduction, “What does this even mean, ‘When you encounter an altar in time, you slip into serenity, just one letter to the left of eternity’?”
I tried to explain, bewildered by his anger, “The difference between serenity and eternity is that the s becomes a t, and s is to the left of t in the alphabet.”
“What, now we’re playing word games? You expect people to figure that out? You expect people to care?”
Norris fumed at me, crumpling the torn cover of my book in his fist. That afternoon, I felt as though my father had died a second time. I knew that his anger had little to do with the book and instead was about what had happened between us a few weeks earlier working in the pit—that unfortunate kiss—something I’d rather bury and forget. That was six months ago, and since then I’ve been walking on eggshells.
I look up at Norris. When I first met him he was in his late forties, and today, over a dozen years later, he still looks like he is in his late forties. He is tall and ruddily attractive, his arms and legs sinewy and brown, his dark hair salted, skin weathered. He looks like a man who has had many adventures. I had originally perceived him as some kind of golden emissary, rising up from the sacred rubble of the Holy Land, full of wisdom. His first lecture dazzled me. It was not until later that I discovered the streaks in his hair and the bronze of his face were less the distinctions of heroism and more simply signs of sun damage, his face sun-dried and preserved, the corners of his brown eyes bouquets of tawny creases. He was attractive, an eloquent speaker, a fine supervisor, and oppressive to the people he loved best.
“Dinner at eight,” I answer. “Saw the note. By the way, I saw chicken in the freezer. Jerrold always orders steak.”
“I’ve known Jerrold a lot longer than you,” he says, laughing lightly at me as if I am a child.
My head is down over my sketchbook but I can see Norris’s boots still planted nearby. I know he’s not leaving just yet, so I put the book aside and stretch out my legs. We need to get beyond this.
I ask him casually, “Will the photographs of the mosaic be ready?”
He squats down, his knees popping. “They should be finished today. Oldest known church in the world! Astounding!”
Norris’s pride is well earned. I have been meaning to send digital pictures of the recently uncovered mosaic to Father Chuck Oren, my family’s priest, with whom I’ve remained in touch. He will be electrified to see the circular pattern in the center depicting two fish mirroring one another, an ancient symbol for Jesus that predates the cross by at least a thousand years.
It should excite me too, but for some time now I’ve been longing for something deeper, something more alive. I became an archaeologist because I thought that in drawing cities and remains out of the dust, I could bring a small part of them back to life. I conjured up the spirits locked in the bones and beads of the people who dwelled in this land millennia ago. I believed I could rub lanterns and set the dream of them free. I have been digging through graves looking for proof that civilizations, people, and stories don’t really ever die, but what I’ve learned, over and over, is that they always do. Maybe I have to step back from it all a little, the way one looks at a mosaic, to be able to see how all the brokenness actually fits together into a greater design.
“You know, people would give their right arm to do what you do,” Norris feels the need to point out, “yet you seem disappointed. What did you think you would find”—he guffaws lightly—“a photo album?”
“Maybe,” I say, twisting my lips to the side in thought. “Or a diary.”
Norris now laughs heartily. Then he sits all the way down. He picks up my sketchbook and looks at my drawings. All at once, he is my professor again, whom I admired so much.
“There is an Ugaritic epic in which the virgin goddess Anat avenges her husband-brother’s death by searching for his murderer, Mot, the god of death,” he says. He glances from the sketchbook to the burial jar and back. “When she finds Mot, she chops him into little pieces, grinds him up, and spreads him over the fields like fertilizer.”
“Huh,” I say.
He glances at me, then back to the book, and goes on, encouraged, “It could be argued that death may be the debt we owe to the earth, ensuring the earth’s fertility. Think about sacrifices offered to ensure a grain harvest.”
“For dust you are and to dust you shall return,” I say quietly, partly to Norris and partly to the 3000-year-old infant in the jar.
“Right, but the return is purposeful, no? The life of the child becomes the life of the wheat, fields and fields of it.” He thinks for a moment. “Burial is a planting…”
A pretty idea, but I don’t buy it. Still, I’m interested. And I’m curious, tentatively, about whether Norris is reaching out to me. “So she actually kills the god of death and her husband gets resurrected?”
“Alas,” Norris sighs. “As the epic continues, with the death of death, Anat’s husband-brother returns to life. But so does Mot. And the cycle continues”—he gestures toward the burial jar—“to this day.”
I’m disappointed but not surprised. “So the god of death’s own death is annulled by his death.”
Norris reaches out and pats my head as if I’m a puppy. “Aw, poor Page. What is a goddess to do?” He stands up and twists his back hard. I hear his bones pop again. I look up at him and find no tenderness there. He shakes his head slowly and pouts in pretend pity. “Always on the losing end.”
WE SPEND THE early evening straightening the house for Jerrold’s visit. We all share in the rent, but Norris as the supervisor, having served this dig for almost thirty years, keeps the master suite. The Bograshovs have the second-largest room, with private bathroom as well. My bedroom is the smallest, but it has the nicest morning light, as it faces east. I can reach my hand out my window and pick tomatoes right from our garden and often do—ripe yellow, green, and red tomatoes. The bathroom down the hall is understood as mine, and for guests. It is a modest limestone house, windows arched in the classic Middle Eastern style. Orna is in her midtwenties, and the rest of us probably seem, in varying degrees, beyond the age bracket for house sharing, although it is not unusual in this region. Financially it has made sense. Norris still pays hefty spousal support to his wife in California. The Bograshovs are saving, dreaming of starting a family someday. And I have maintained my apartment in New York City, which I try to visit at least twice a year, when I return to lecture and to visit my mother and my closest friend, Jordanna. It sometimes seems foolish to keep it, that empty cube filled with furniture quietly waiting all year to be used: the empty bed and desk in the one tiny bedroom, small empty loveseat, breakfast table with the leaves folded down, cold two-burner stove in the wall kitchen. But I’ve always felt that to give it up would be to become untethered in the world, utterly rootless. I love when I return there and collapse into a chair, looking at the beveled ceiling and listening to footsteps cross the floor above me. Sometimes I wonder, however, if the opposite is true, if maintaining it all these years has prevented me from taking more risks and finding a real place to call home, rather than a rent-controlled barrenness.
Jerrold arrives in a herringbone suit and a thin black cashmere turtleneck underneath. His silver hair is shaped and gleaming over his head like poured metal, mustache slicked into place. His presence is of prosperity, his skin tight over his face and appropriately bronzed, teeth surprisingly white. He is worldly, sophisticated. Older than Norris, he walks into our home with shiny shoes and a silver-tipped cane, carrying two bottles of Côtes du Rhône. I have showered, pulled my hair back into a clip, and put on a simple black dress. We all look nice but clearly underfunded.
Orna brings out chicken and stewed zucchini, apricots, olives, and pine nuts over a mound of couscous.
“Tell me, Mikhail,” Jerrold drawls while Norris dishes out the meal, “what is your specialty? I’ve heard rumor you are a garbage man!”
“Indeed,” Mickey says in his heavy Russian accent, which somehow always makes it seem as if he is reciting something. “Everyone should spend at least a year collecting and sorting garbage. Yesterday’s dinners, news clippings, and junk can tell you more about human behavior and consumption than anything else. From an archaeologist’s perspective, garbage is the great chronicle of life.”
“Well said! Good man,” Jerrold says enthusiastically. “Let’s open that wine and toast. A toast to garbage!”
Norris wrestles with the wine bottle between his knees. He says, lest Jerrold should really think Mickey is a garbage man, “When Mickey emigrated from Russia, he had multiple degrees.” He huffs a little and manages to pull out the cork. “Physical anthropology, paleontology, linguistics, and chem. He spoke six languages, but not Hebrew, at the time. The only work he could find in his early years was as a garbage collector.”
“I met him when I was a docent at the Diaspora museum,” says Orna. She has Moroccan features and sapphire eyes. “He was an Aladdin’s lamp in a heap of trash.”
Mickey puts his arm around Orna and says, “I only needed one rub.”
Orna blushes deeply and Jerrold laughs mightily, lifting his glass to Orna, adding, “And then all your wishes came true!” He continues, “A toast…but wait, Norris my boy, you have no wine. You must! It is a nineteen forty-two bottle!”
“Yes.” Norris clears his throat a bit nervously. “None for me, thanks.” He looks to me for the briefest moment, and Jerrold notices.
“Ah!” Jerrold exclaims. “There are stories in this house! I see, yes, I’ve always wondered, an old dog like yourself sharing a roof with one of your former students.” He slaps the table. “You bastard! Of course you had to hire the prettiest one!”
I laugh. “Thanks, Mr. March.”
Jerrold hands his glass to Norris and then pours himself another and says exuberantly, “To garbage! Because it is messy!”
Glasses clink and Norris says soberly, “Yes, well, Mickey speaks of garbage with exaggerated romanticism.”
“But he’s right!” says Jerrold. “Ah yes, trash, other people’s trash, it is romantic! Lost sandals and scandals and partially burned candles…it’s poetry, you see?”
After speaking about the mosaic, which is far more interesting than my shaft tombs, and after a few more glasses of wine, Jerrold rests his face in one of his big hands, leaning his elbow on the table and looking across at me. “And Page, yes, the thing about Page is that I’ve never met a human being who knows the Bible better than this one. How is it possible that a girl like you knows the Bible so well? What a shame if it is because they sent you to waste your youth in a nunnery.”
Norris answers, a little clipped, “Ms. Brookstone studied Christian theology at Harvard Divinity.”
“Yes.” Jerrold nods. “I remember now.” He looks deeply into my face, and I can see he’s a little drunk. “All those blood-soaked texts, the Levitical sacrifices, the blood on the altars, the blood on the doorways, whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed…” With his fingers Jerrold picks up a chicken leg out of the bowl in the center of the table. He points it at me and says, “You sucked the marrow out of the Bible until there was nothing but bone.”
“Something like that,” I say. I can feel the wine warming me as well, can see it creeping over everyone. Only Norris remains rigid.
Mickey says, “Every night, she filled her bathtub with Bible stories the way Countess Bathory of Transylvania would fill her tub with the blood of virgins, to achieve eternal beauty, to live forever.”
Orna slaps her husband playfully against the arm.
“It looks to me like it’s working,” Jerrold says, eyes absorbing my face.
“But I left Harvard,” I say, “after I heard a lecture by Dr. Norris Anderson. I remember it so clearly. He said, ‘Archaeology is the place where the precision of science and the intuitive certainty of faith intersect.’ I was so impressed. I gave up my pursuit of a doctorate in divinity for a master’s in archaeology.”
Jerrold’s eyes sparkle and dance. “You abandoned armchair philosophy to pursue the philosopher’s stone. A noble one you are!”
Norris laughs. “Actually, the thing Ms. Brookstone wants desperately to find more than anything else at Megiddo is a diary.”
“Adorable!” bursts Jerrold. “A diary! Now that would be something!” He extends his head over the table toward me, closes his eyes for a moment, and breathes, as if inhaling perfume. “Now, I’ll bet you kept a diary when you were a girl.”
“No,” I say, “but there was this time when our family’s pastor, Father Chuck, got so angry at me.”
“Yes, tell me,” Jerrold croons. “I’d love to know where this leads.”
“He had told us the Noah story, that a man could build a boat to fit all those animals, and I just couldn’t believe it, so I said so.”
Orna says, “Always challenging things, even as a child!”
“Father Chuck turned to me and smiled like a prizefighter stepping into a ring. He took his chair and brought it to the other side of my desk and sat down. He put his elbows on my desk, right on top of my illustrated children’s Bible. He was very young for a priest, and he stared straight into me, as if there weren’t fifteen other students in the room.”
“Indeed, I’m sure.” Jerrold nods vigorously.
“He said, ‘Thousands of years from now, long after you and everyone you know are dead, someone will find the ruins of your house. They will pick through the rubble and sift through the sand. And you know what they will find?’”
“Trash!” Jerrold erupts. “Mountains and mountains of trash!”
“That’s right,” Mickey affirms, raising his glass.
I shook my head. “‘Two books,’ he said. ‘And in one there will be all our records—school records, medical records, dental records, criminal records, growth charts, degrees, honorable mentions…and in the other book, they will find a diary. A diary of all the dreams of all the people.’ Father Chuck said, ‘Imagine that every night everyone rose at midnight and recorded their dreams, and all those dreams were compiled into a book of fantasies, longings. The other book would be the cold facts, but this book would be the deep truth.’”
“The Bible is the diary of dreams,” Orna says, mesmerized.
“I’m in love.” Jerrold heaves a sigh. “Ask me for anything, Page. Even half the kingdom and I’ll give it to you.”
Norris is glowering. I feel suddenly a little sad for him. When he hired me to come to Megiddo, Norris had just finalized a bitter divorce. He had a daughter just a couple of years younger than I who lived with his ex-wife and refused to speak with him, even though it was his wife who had left him for another man. I had sensed that he thought of me like a daughter, someone he could mentor who’d appreciate him. I thought we comforted one another. I knew very little about his ex-wife or the divorce. Whenever the subject delicately surfaced, he would bat it away saying, “My ex-wife is a lunatic,” or “She left me for crazy.”
I say, “That first time I heard Norris speak, he reminded me of Father Chuck. They are both so fluent and persuasive.”
At this, Norris laughs sharply, pushes his chair away from the table with a screech, and begins loudly clearing plates. “Yeah, me,” he says while making a racket with the dishes, “a fuckin’ priest. That’s how she thinks of me.”
After Jerrold leaves, Orna and Mickey insist on cleaning up. I fill up a canteen to put in the freezer for work tomorrow and Norris brushes past me and scowls. “Enjoy yourself tonight?” He walks out of the kitchen and Orna looks at me and lifts her hands as if to say, I don’t know what his problem is.
I pass his suite on my way to my room, and the door, slightly open, makes me uncomfortable. We cannot go on living in the same house this way.
What People are Saying About This
"Lyrical, transformative, and unexpected, Drawing will keep you enthralled in the moment, yet racing to know more." -Gina B. Nahai, New York Times bestselling author of Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith
Reading Group Guide
Drawing in the Dust
When called upon by a young Arab couple to investigate a cistern that lies beneath their home, Page Brookstone discovers more than she bargained for. The couple believes the cistern is the reason that the spirits of two lovers keep appearing in their home, while Page’s colleagues believe that the young couple are all but insane and that she should stay away. Page, however, takes the opportunity to investigate the site and discovers that, in fact, it is not a cistern, but a tomb. In it are the remains of an ancient Israelite, the prophet Jeremiah, buried alongside a woman who may have been his lover, and a set of scrolls that tell of their great love. In uncovering the mystery of a centuries-old romance that defies convention, Page could be onto the archaeological discovery of a lifetime. The findings also sets Page on a path of self-discovery, where she is forced to dig into long-buried issues from her own past, which along with a new and unexpected romance, reawaken her from the stupor in which she’s been living. Author Zoe Klein, who is also the youngest female congregational rabbi in the United States, elegantly blends fact and fiction with two appealing love stories; however, the novel also engages powerful questions of identity, family, discovery, politics, and sexuality with originality and subtlety.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
- The Barakats believe the ground beneath their house is haunted and claim to have seen spirits in their home. How does their faith contribute to this belief? Do you think that Page begins believing in ghosts and the paranormal as the book progresses? Who are the skeptics and who are the cynics of the novel?
- Discuss the various aspects of faith as they relate to the novel. Do not limit yourself to strictly religious faith, but also discuss everyday matters of faith, i.e. the hope and belief that things will always work out for the best, etc.
- What parts of the book made you reflect upon your own feelings and beliefs about religion? How do you feel about the religious restrictions placed on Page and Mortichai’s relationship? What was your reaction to the destruction of the archaeological finds in the name of religion?
- Water makes several appearances in the novel, from the cistern below the Barakats’ home, to baths, to ritual cleansing. What is the symbolism of water throughout the book as it relates to worship and faith?
- The author is a congregational rabbi, a position that has been traditionally held by men. How are traditional gender roles subverted in this story? What is Klein saying by giving Anatiya as much agency as she does? How would the story have been different if Jeremiah had written the scrolls instead?
- The passages from the scrolls which appear at the beginning of each chapter tell of the love story between Jeremiah and Anatiya. How do those passages mirror what happens to the characters in each of those chapters?
- Early in the book Page’s friend points out the difference between a broken heart and a depressed heart. How would you describe the status of Page’s heart at the beginning of the novel? Where is it at the end? How does her relationship with Mortichai change it?
- Page is accused of being able to string together complex concepts, but of being unable to understand simple things such as love. How true do you think this is and why? How does her emotional growth progress throughout the novel?
- The conventional definition of archaeology is the scientific study of historic or prehistoric people and their cultures. Beyond Page’s search into the history of Jeremiah, what else is she searching for in her past as it relates to her family and relationships? What does she discover that she wasn’t searching for?
- Page has chosen a career that isolates her and places her within a small contained group of people. What is she avoiding? Do you see symbolism in her choice of a career in archaeology? Part of the process of archaeology is the constant search for things long hidden, things in the past that will help us better understand the present. What are the various characters searching for? Norris? Page? Itai? The Barakats? Who is more successful in finding what they seek, and why?
Tips for Enhancing Your Bookclub
- Learn more about some of the themes addressed in this novel. Try reading one of the following books about the experience of Jews in the Middle East or stories that deal with displacement.
The Yacoubian Building, a Novel by Alaa Al Aswany
Out of Egypt by Andre Aciman
Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith, a Novel by Gina Nahai
The House of Sand and Fog, a Novel by Andre Dubus III
The Septembers of Shiraz, a Novel by Dalia Sofer
- Israel is known as the land of “milk and honey,” so this is the perfect opportunity to bring a different type of food into your group the night you discuss Drawing in the Dust. Do some research on traditional Israeli food and prepare some special dishes to share with your group.
- For any members of your group who are not familiar with the Jewish faith, do some research on some of the more traditional Jewish Holidays – Hanukah, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashanah, and create some cards for members of your group that describe the holiday, the history of it, and the traditions of how they’re celebrated. If you are able, try and make a visit to a local synagogue.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For Twelve years American archeologist Page Brookstone has dug at the biblical site Megiddo, Israel, but is bone weary. She knows she needs a change to rejuvenate her creative juices as the dig has become tedious to her in spite of Norris Anderson, who worked with her late legendary father.-------- The car of an Arab couple Naima and Ibrahim breaks down near the dig. Page offers them tea inside her tent. They soon invite Page to investigate the two spirits who haunt the ruins under their home in Anatot near Jerusalem. Page's peers suggest it is unsafe, but she assumes they mean an American in an Arab neighborhood. She travels to the site where she and her team unearth an incredible biblical find. She soon realizes incredible is an under exaggeration as Page believes they have found the burial site of the prophet Jeremiah and his beloved Anatiya. Fascinatingly Anatiya has left her version of the times that matches up with the Book of Jeremiah. Soon the find leads to a major brouhaha while Page is attracted to Orthodox Jew Mortichai Master, who opposes the dig.-------- Rabbi Klein's terrific thriller works for three prime reasons. First it is not another Brownian clone. Second the insightful look at how tedious and methodical a biblical dig is brings authenticity to the plot. Finally, Arabs like Naima and Ibrahim are intelligent highly educated people. Rabbi Klein shows respect and admiration of Israeli and Arab cultures. Fast-paced with a strong support cast, readers will dig the superb DRAWING IN THE DUST as the Prophet Jeremiah comes alive through his writings and that of the woman he loved Anatiya.------- Harriet Klausner
Page Brookstrone has been searching her whole life, for the meaning of life, the meaning of her life. She has a terrible legacy she hopes she won't fulfill but is afraid non-the-less to realize it's truth. At a young age her father died after a battle with ALS so she now devotes her life to the dead, the long dead as an archeologist and as she searches in Israel for treasures hidden in it's dust she discovers something amazing, something life altering, something controversial and something heralding in her field. Now the true question is, what will she do. Will she go along with the status quo, or will she ford a new stream and take a stand. Zoe is an astonishing storyteller as she spellbinds you from the first page and keeps you there until the novel is finished. Her plot is an always interesting subject for me as I love ancient history and archeology and adore stories of powerful women. Her dialogue is prose like in it's flow, exact enough for a textbook when she goes into her science speak and scholarly in her theology. She will paint pictures in your mind of her scenes that will leave you breathless in their graphic depictions. She gives us amazingly diverse characters that will leave you in awe, some you will grow to love and some you will learn to despise. Her champion Page is a multilevel character who is tenacious in her chosen field and yet is vulnerable and immature in her own person. As we watch her grow through the tale we gain more respect for her and begin to understand what makes her tick. Her male protagonist is a most unlikely hero and at your first meeting you'll think him just another minor figure in the book so he I will let you figure out. She has also a co-heroine and hero in the novel, but I'll let you discover them on your own as well. This is a love story, but not a romance and her portrayal will offend no one. If you love historic fiction, literary fiction, women's fiction or theological fiction then you won't be sorry you chose this read, actually anyone who reads this will be pleased they did. I personally love stories depicting capable and even forceful women especially in historic settings where we were little more than livestock to men. This is a definite must read.
This book has so much going for it. The setting in Israel is really vivid and the archaeological dig (which happens in someone's house!) is really fascinating. It's obvious that the author (who also happens to be a rabbi) really knows what she is talking about. I also loved the romance between the protagonist, who is a Christian from America, and the Jewish Orthodox scholar. The book reminds me a bit of People of the Book and it also has elements of The Red Tent. Highly enjoyable and thought-provoking!
Page Brookstone finds herself bored with her dream life. Will unearthing the 3,070th mummy really make a difference to the world or to Page's search for personal meaning? Nope, so when a crazy couple approaches her dig with a wild story of erotic ghosts in their home, Page decides to climb out of her rut and down into a secret underground cistern. And there, she discovers love. The 2500 year old love of the prophet Jeremiah and his mute scribe Anatiya. And the contemporary love that blossoms between our Catholic Christian protagonist and an Orthodox Jew.
For a while now I've been reading books that have been recommended by someone, somewhere, somehow. The Drawing In The Dust is my first foray into unchartered territories in a very, very long time and fortunately it didn't disappoint. As a fan of anything paranormal I was attracted to the book by the blurb that promised ghostly presences and the setting - Zoe Klein takes us to Israel, to the world of rich history, archaeological digs and long-lost treasures, the only place on earth where people read their antique records in their own language. The idea of the main character unearthing something unique was more than I could pass up so the book came home with me. This novel is a chick lit-flavored coming-of-age adventure tied into Page's discovery of the tomb of the prophet Jeremiah buried in the arms of an unknown woman. There is love and lust, international and scientific conflict, and a particularly heart-warming notion that people can in fact all get along, despite our differences. Page has some personal drama and tragedy to sift through (pun intended) before she can come to terms with who she is and what she wants from her life, and her love interest has a similar journey to make so there is quite a bit of almost teen-like angst and self-doubt. There are a lot of references to the Scripture, faith, some interpretation of the verses and I was very pleased to see in the end that it wasn't overwhelming. In fact, if felt very natural, the religious elements fit very neatly into the story, and learning after I finished the book that the author is a practicing rabbi helped explain why they didn't feel forced or out of place. This is Ms. Klein's life and she transfered it in a way to her character, Page. The hook of the story is that Page abandons a well-established dig to come work under the house of a couple who say they have ghosts and know there is something there. This paranormal element worked very well in some instances and in others it left me confused because the nature of it seemed to change half-way through the story. I did enjoy however that it wasn't completely cheesy, as it could have been, although it was quite a bit more new-agey than I would have preferred. The insight into the daily life of the Jewish and Arabic communities in Jerusalem was what grounded this story for me. It's a glimpse into something we don't see on our news and I'm willing to bet most people know nothing about this aspect of life in Israel. I credit the authenticity and intimacy with which Ms. Klein presented these parts of the book to us readers to the fact that she spent time in Israel and most likely witnessed events similar to what she described. There were elements that seemed far-fetched but on the whole it worked for the purposes of this book. This is an entertaining read and if you're interested in literature with Hebrew motifs and setting as well as very atmospheric writing you will enjoy this book.
This book was moderately interesting, but I did not feel the characters were well enough developed for me to care about them. There were too many hardly believable happenings. I would have preferred more realistic dialogue rather than the poetry.
Page Brookstone is an American archeologist who has been working in Israel for the past decade. She loves her job excavating a dig in Megiddo but is in a slump in life. She is also in a rather uncomfortable situation with one of her co-workers and his feelings for her, and is stressed about it. So when a Palestenian couple, Ibrahim and Naima, approach her with a ghost story curiousity gets the better of her and she ends up investigating their claims on her day off. To her surprise, she finds a coffin containing two intertwined skeletons and a scroll written by a female scribe named Anatiya. She quickly becomes immersed in her discovery and risks her career when she leaves Megiddo and begins work on her intriguing find.I found some of the content in this book to be very interesting. I loved the parts dealing with the ghost story and archeology itself - the excavating, the mystery and thrill of the find. But at the same time I wasn't very thrilled with Page as a character. I found her to be annoying and immature for a 40ish year old professional. I also enjoyed learning of the prophet Jeremiah, but how much is fact and/or fiction is unknown to me. Ms. Klein does mention that she wrote the fictional Scroll of Anatiya to coincide with the life of Jeremiah as if Anatiya were a woman who lived along with and loved the prophet. I only mention this because the author quotes directly from the scroll at the start of each chapter.I can't say I'd recommend this as I didn't love it, but if you are interested in learning about the Prophet Jeremiah or an archeological mystery then you might want to check this one out.
There is music to this book. An undercurrent of notes that almost disappears at times ¿ and then swells into a flood of emotion and image ¿ a song of words.¿Midnight is the most intimate of instants. The most hollow, superstitious, lost-in-the-woods, something¿s-in-the-attic, moments of the day. Twelve is the knifepoint between the day¿s deepest darkening and the commencement of its lightening, the kiss between the kingdom of the moon and the kingdom of the sun. It is a razor-breadth¿s flash between love and hope.¿Archeologist Page Brookstone has been searching her whole life for something that started to disappear for her one New Year¿s Eve at midnight. She searches through dust and bones and texts, looking for¿something indefinable. Some answer to a question she is unable to form.And with a major discovery that comes to her out of a mist ¿ her life changes completely.She is caught up in a world both completely outside of her own ¿ and one that touches her soul. She is in Israel, where the ancient past and modern day live side by side. Where there is incredible beauty and mystery, and also unimaginable horrors. Where a day may contain prayers, work, joy¿and bombings.¿He sits back down and continues talking. ¿Once I found a little foot. I picked it up delicately. It had a little scrape on the ankle. The scrape was not from the bombing, it was older, from at least a week before. It had scabbed over. This was a perfect little boy¿s foot with a perfect little boy scrape on it from running, sliding, and playing tag. I can¿t even comprehend the pain that his family went through. All I know is that I mourned for his little foot.¿There is a religious narrative to this book that didn¿t touch me as much as it should have ¿ through no fault of its own. I have almost no knowledge of the bible. For those who do, I think there would be a great deal more depth to the words, the discovery. As Page uncovers scrolls and artifacts of the prophet Jeremiah and a woman named Anatiya, she brings a new voice to the world¿and only later discovers that it mirrors her own.¿This is the story of a woman, Miss Brookstone. This is not the mention of a woman in the context of a story of a man. This is her own voice, describing her own love. And she lived during one of the most tumultuous times in this region¿s history. It¿s a perspective entirely missing from our collections.¿ From the dust, from a woman¿s voice that comes only from words on a scroll, Page realizes much about herself, much about the choices she¿s made, and that she has buried herself in the past to avoid choosing a future.¿I think of that devouring clock that I feel I¿ve been running from since the night I knew my father was dying. I do feel patience and generosity leaking from my broken heart. Perhaps love will alight on me someday if I remain still like this. Perhaps not.¿Always running from and never running to, the words and life of Anatiya finally break Page out of hiding from herself.¿I think of the thousands of Canaanite tombs I¿ve uncovered, and look at the now thousands of stars. They are related, I feel. Each star emanated one of those souls, who inspired a little more love, if only for a day, a couple of days, or years. Then comes grief, which is always the price for loving. But thank God for loving. And the stars keep shining their light to dispel the gloom, orient the troops, chart the wanderers, on and on and on. I marvel at the night.¿The music of the past, of a mute woman¿s voice, of a land of dust and tears and blood, of newfound strength weave into this book. Though at times a few of the notes faltered, the crescendo was beautiful. ¿The soul of a person is made from stories. Stories that keep telling themselves over countless ages, and when man is no longer listening, they become the lyrics to the music of galaxies.¿
I hope Zoe Klein's Drawing in the Dust is a runaway bestseller! This novel is a dazzling, spellbinding story that kept me transfixed until I finished the last satiating page. Like all great stories, I wished it had never ended. I had fallen in love with the characters and grieved that I could not longer share their lives. The marketing blurb on the back cover touts that this novel "will lure" readers of bestsellers like The Red Tent. Typically I take such comments with a grain of salt. But believe me when I say: I enthusiastically loved The Red Tent and this book had just as strong an impact on me. Both show a profound love for the ancient cultures and people described. Both have strong female characters at their core. Both left me aching for more. Both heightened my spirituality and humanity. But there is a downside, too. I imagine both will be welcomed and condemned equally by a similar audience of readers of mixed religious backgrounds. The Red Tent was a controversial book, and this one will be, too.Drawing in the Dust is an intoxicating mix of modern and ancient cultural and religious themes. It is a story of scholarship, discovery, intrigue, friendship, culture, family, passion, selfless love, and international religious fanaticism. The main character is American archaeologist Page Brookstone. While working in Israel, she discovers the remains of the prophet Jeremiah. The prophet lies in a tomb entwined in the arms of a mysterious woman. Among the scrolls discovered at the site is one written by this woman. It is a new tract of monumental historical and religious significance. It reveals a captivating, passionate, female voice from the era of prophets. In archaic, mystic, erotic, and ecstatic verse, the scroll communicates her life and love for Jeremiah. The discovery creates an international furor. Little by little, the ancient love story is revealed, but there is also a modern love story at the heart of this novel. The less said about it, the better. You are guaranteed to savor the subtle twists and turns of this delicate, modern, international, interfaith romance, and I wouldn't want to ruin anything by revealing details here that should be discovered within the context of the story.It is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. Indeed, Klein shows the polish of a first-rate storyteller. Her prose is lyrical, fresh, and unconventional. It sparkles with literary craftsmanship. The novel is well-paced, but the author also takes time to create significant depth in her characters. There is an earthy engaging juxtaposition between the multi-cultural cast of characters involved in the present-day archaeological operations, and the two ancient personalities¿the prophet Jeremiah and his life-long loving female devotee. In the interlacing of the two stories¿one ancient, one modern¿a symbiosis is created that intensifies the vitality and reality of both worlds. I am stunned by this debut. I will recommend it to my friends and buy it for my loved ones. I predict this novel will immediately be optioned by Hollywood and made into a major movie. Why? Because it is a unique, compelling, and thrilling story that would serve as a magnificent vehicle to showcase renowned female and male acting talent. Also, it sheds light and understanding on many significant contemporary world political, cultural, and religious issues. This book earns my unqualified and enthusiastic five-star rating. I eagerly await further books by this talented new author.
Drawing in the Dust is the story of a Page, a woman who spends her days uncovering the past. She is a very talented archaeologist but is somewhat bored with her current situation. She's in Mediggo and searching to figure out life's mysteries. A couple comes to her in need of help. They see love making ghosts in their home. Page is skeptical but intrigued. She makes a visit to their home and feelings overcome her that she thought were buried. She leaves in a hurry but is drawn back to this home and decides to help this couple. Will Page find the meaning of life in the area beneath this couples home or will she just find herself? Sometimes you need a book that speaks to you. Drawing in the Dust makes you think and feel. When you're looking for a book that will touch your soul, this is the one to pick up. It is a masterpiece! Now go read it:)Thank you Ayelet from Pocket Books for sending me this book to review.
The back-cover blurb is what drew my attention to this book since this is my first read by author Zoe Klein. The story has strong mystical components as well as many references to the story of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah. Readers who are unfamiliar with Jeremiah's story may find it hard going, but I didn't have any problems.Page is an American archaeologist who has been working in Israel for more than a decade on the excavations at Megiddo. She likes her work, but is realizing a sense of dissatisfaction with her current situation. Her long-time friend/mentor and boss recently made a pretty strong pass at her; her refusal and his inability to accept it have resulted in a very strained working relationship. So Page is ripe for change and when a Palestinian couple approach her on the dig, she listens to their story more closely than she realizes. Her boss scoffs at their claims of a haunted chamber underneath their home at Anatot, but Page cannot seem to forget. When she drops by their home on her day off, she quickly becomes drawn into the thrill of discovery and risks her career and professional reputation when she leaves Megiddo and begins work in Anatot.Those familiar with the story of Jeremiah will either love or hate this story. Klein fleshes out the prophet far beyond what is known and connects her life with that of a young woman who 'loved' the prophet. The author quotes from a fictional 'Scroll of Anatiya', the story of the young woman from long ago who passionately loved the prophet. Each chapter is headed by a quote and the author admits to having actually written the entire scroll while in school as a parallel to the life of Jeremiah. Biblical purists will no doubt be up in arms and screaming at the extent of poetic license Mrs. Klein uses in her tale.I found the 'mystery' and archaeological discovery portions of the book quite riveting. But I had to wade through the author's metaphysical meanderings as she psychoanalyzes her lead character during the entire novel. It could just be that I'm shallow--if I want to read a character study, then that's what I look for; if I want to read an archaeological mystery, then that's what I want. I just wish the author had limited herself to one or the other and I would have enjoyed "Drawing in the Dust" much more.
DRAWING IN THE DUST by Zoë Klein is a magical and fully romantic read. I went into the book figuring that I would find a great story and found something so full of wonder and color that my brain is still swirling with the beauty of it. Much as a fairy tale leaves frosting and pixie dust floating about the head, DRAWING IN THE DUST leaves warmth and happiness surrounding you like a soft blanket fresh out of the dryer. I am absolutely ecstatic to share this review with you today and hope that it encourages you to pick this book up and get lost within the wonder of its pages.DRAWING IN THE DUST follows the blond, beautiful, intelligent and lost Page as she journeys to discover who she is and what mysteries the world holds. Originally a divinity student in college, she found herself drawn to archaeology and has spent over a decade digging up the remains of past civilizations. She's always cataloging, recording, analyzing; she's searching for something but has no idea what that something is. When Ibrahim and Aisha Barakat show up at her dig, claiming to have ghosts visiting their home, Page is quick to dismiss them as the rest of her colleagues have. Her brain and heart war with each other and soon, despite the pleas of her coworkers, she finds herself on the Barakat's doorstep. What follows is a story woven with mystery, intrigue, suspense, and above all, love.The discovery of a scroll and coffin in an ancient cistern set the world on fire. The scroll contains the words of a young woman, Anatiya, as she details her life and her love for the prophet Jeremiah. The coffin contains the old bones of Anatiya, locked in a loving embrace in the long-dead arms of Jeremiah. Her story and the obvious love between the pair throw age-old stories up into a whirlwind of chaos. When panic and destruction are becoming a part of everyday life, can the tender love of two long-dead mortals cure the world, or crush it?I am not exaggerating at all when I say that DRAWING IN THE DUST is breathtakingly beautiful. This is one of the most unique and wonderful love stories that I have read. At the forefront is Page and her desire to find love despite the fact that she constantly pushes it away. As Page's discovery of the ancient scroll continues, we also learn of Anatiya and her undying love for Jeremiah. Klein gives a velvety soft, fluid texture to Anatiya and its practically impossible not to fall in love with the young woman, feeling every joy and heartbreak that she experiences. Anatiya's voice is the voice of love. I don't know how Klein does it, but she creates such a tender and romantic atmosphere that I feel even the most bitter and angry people would find themselves melting over her words.Normally, a strong female character is what wins a book over for me. In this case I was extra lucky to experience two strong female characters. Both Page and Anatiya play strong leads and bring strong stories to the book even though one character is dead. One would expect that Page, the woman that we actually follow would steal the spotlight from Anatiya. Or perhaps Anatiya would steal it from Page seeing as how it is her scroll that Page discovers and her life that unfolds before us. Instead, Klein brings both characters to the front, showing amazing skill at creating two lead characters that can both stand in the spotlight together without one overshadowing the other.It is for reasons such as this that DRAWING IN THE DUST is a remarkable book. Klein's ability to bring us down into multiple stories while at the same time keeping utter cohesion is just amazing and adds such a level of depth to the book that enjoyment lasts long after the last page is read. People say it all the time, but in this instance, it could not be more true. Klein's characters really do jump off the page and cavort around you. DRAWING IN THE DUST follows more like a beautiful play, a wonderful moving work of art, than simple black lines on grey paper. It's been a day since I finished DRAWIN
If you are a Christian I do not recommend this book. The language is offensive, and the main character is promiscuous. When I first read the sample I expected this to, ultimately, be about the woman that Jesus saved from stoning. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I was very disappointed when I began reading and realized that, not only was the language offensive, the main character (while being put forth as a Christian woman) was sleeping around, chasing ghosts, and dropping as many bombs as the secondary characters. This book is nothing like the sample portrays. It was a waste of money, and I didn't even make it all the way through before I chose to delete it.
This book is a cannot put down read, you learn quite a bit about the dig's in Israel and the people, Rabbi Klein writes in the most peaceful way, you fall in love with the people of different faiths & heritige. You become part of the book, you are @ the dig, she write's so visiual, you will want to get on a plane to Israel. You get excited over each find. Do not miss one of the great book's of our time.
This was the featured read last fall on the B&N General Fiction Book Club, but I just finally got around to buying and reading Drawing in the Dust, by Zoe Klein. The story was riveting as you followed the heroine through her search for the treasure hidden in an previously undiscovered archeological site that she "stumbles" upon through an interesting series of events. What makes the book EVEN MORE riveting is the attention to detail that Zoe gives to the story of the Prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament and how she draws the story of this tragic prophet into and inter-weaves Jeremiah's story with the story of the excavation of her site. The "quoted" text of the Scroll of another prophetess, Anatiya, that is referenced through out the book is written brilliantly. The text of this "Scroll of Anatiya" is so close to the style and rhythm of the voice of Jeremiah, that you begin to wonder whether or not there is actually another unpublished scroll out there that has been unearthed and never been released to public review. I highly recommend this book to any student of the Old Testament, to any romantic at heart, to any mystery buff, and to any person who loves a great read. For those who are looking for a book that is good enough to demand a re-read.....you have found one here. I am going to have to re-read this one again --- slower this time --- that way I can slowly absorb each innuendo and phrase of the story, as well as each melodic turn of phrase of the poetry quoted from the "Scroll of Anatiya". BTW, you can also purchase the Scroll of Anatiya, as a separate book, a complete work, unto itself.