#59 – Jerusalem Maiden – Talia Carner

In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, a young Orthodox Jewish woman in the holy city of Jerusalem is expected to marry and produce many sons to help hasten the Messiah’s arrival.

While the feisty Esther Kaminsky understands her obligations, her artistic talent inspires her to secretly explore worlds outside her religion, to dream of studying in Paris—and to believe that God has a special destiny for her. When tragedy strikes her family, Esther views it as a warning from an angry God and suppresses her desires in order to become an obedient “Jerusalem maiden.”

But when a surprising opportunity forces itself on to her preordained path, Esther finds her beliefs clashing dangerously with the passions she has staved off her entire life—forcing her to confront the most difficult and damning question of all: To whom must she be true, God or herself? – Publishers Website

When I received the email for this book, I was intrigued by not only the title, but what the book description said.  When I finally started to read it, I was mesmerized by the tale of history, the wanting to do something that was out-of-bounds for women at the time.  Esther wanted to do her own thing, not be bound by what society or what her family expected her to do.  She eventually did what was best, but during that time, she experienced some things that she thought she wouldn’t ever have imagined.  Her love of art, family, history, and the eventual outcome of the book had me thinking about things.  Would you go against what your family wanted for you?  Would you give everything up that you have to gain independence, happiness?  Would there be a way of compromising to achieve a little bit of everything?  I imagine it would be individualized for everyone, but would the cost of attempting to achieve it be worth it?

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