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Introduction of the ebook: The Weight of Ink

Đánh giá : 4.12 /5 (sao)

An intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A. S. Byatt’s Possession and Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book.

Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, jus An intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A. S. Byatt’s Possession and Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book.

Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.”

Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order reconcile the life of the heart and mind. …more

Review ebook The Weight of Ink

Update News: WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD

Manuscripts had laid undisturbed more than 300 years. A discovery had been made.

Helen Watt, British historian is 64 years of age with failing health. She used a cane to walk. She has Parkinson’s disease. Helen’s strength -knowledge & passion for history and Jewish studies stand out – her ruthless commitment to her work reflect who she is – but her illness is quietly just ‘being’. Helen operates much bigger than her disease.
She is not Jewish, Update News: WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD

Manuscripts had laid undisturbed more than 300 years. A discovery had been made.

Helen Watt, British historian is 64 years of age with failing health. She used a cane to walk. She has Parkinson’s disease. Helen’s strength -knowledge & passion for history and Jewish studies stand out – her ruthless commitment to her work reflect who she is – but her illness is quietly just ‘being’. Helen operates much bigger than her disease.
She is not Jewish, but has done a lot of work with Jewish history and taught as University professor. Since Helen is about to retire at the University, she would like to go out with a bang. So there is some urgency and competitiveness in getting the documents she learns about to the college before anybody else gets their hands on them.

Ian and Brigette Easton, lived in a house from the late seventeenth century. It was built in 1661 by Portuguese Jews. It changed hands a few times until 1910 when Brigette’s aunt bought the house and allowed it to deteriorate.
Brigette inherited the property from her aunt. Their plan was to renovate and then open up a gallery in the house. The Easton’s had many building delays. It seemed that Brigette’s late aunt had spent decades offending members of every historical preservation group in the area. After The Easton’s finally obtained all the requisite permissions, the electrician found a stash of papers under their stairs. He thought they were Arabic. He didn’t realize the papers were dated more than 300 years ago— and the lettering was in Portuguese and Hebrew.

NOTE — After finishing the book – I found it ‘a little’ funny that I remembered reading about Brigette’s aunt ‘offending’ people — ( who died before Brigette inherited the house). The more we get to know Brigette in this story – I can say ….”the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.

Ian had been a student of Helen Watt at University—and he called her to come examine the papers they found in their house. Helen recognized some correspondence between 17th century Rabbis on the documents. She told the couple -(Bridgette & Ian), that the papers needed to be assessed before they could safely be moved.
Helen tried to explain a little more to Brigette & Ian of what the electrician and covered. She explained that any document that contain the word God could not be thrown out in Jewish communities, but instead had to be buried as a person would be buried. Brigette ‘might’ have wanted to toss the found 300 year old documents away – if she could have gotten away with it….so she could get permits and just remodel her old house already. The woman represents everything annoying about ultra modern women today …lol
Synagogues, and religious Jewish communities stored these documents in troves called genizah’s, until a burial could be arranged.
Helen was adamant that the papers found belonged to England’s history— and not the Jewish community. She believed the documents found belonged at a major research university.

Helen needed help – and calls a colleague to recommend a post grad student to be her assistant.
Aaron Levy, American Jew, a college post grad student had been working on his dissertation, but was struggling to finish it. He was trying to prove there was a Jewish connection with Shakespeare’s writing. Aaron, about 40 years younger than Helen, – 25 ish – resembled a man named Dror, from Helen’s past that she had history with.
Whether or not it was because Aaron, reminded Helen, or Dror, from many years ago ( who we learn more about later in the book)— or because Aaron came off being a basic arrogant schmuck, – Helen & Aaron were not off to a good start as a cohesive happy team.
Helen was aware right off the bat that Aaron didn’t like her much, but at least he didn’t pity her.

The documents discloses letters written by Ester Velasquez, under the care of Rabbi Moseh HaCoen Mendes. Mendes fled Portugal – and went to Amsterdam after the Inquisition killed his parents and left him blind. From Amsterdam, he went to London to try to help with the Jewish community. There’s interesting facts about the struggles of the Jewish community during this time too – hiding their religious identity-or at least keeping it pretty quiet – but they were relatively safe in London- so many Jews didn’t want to rock the boat by pressing for more civil rights.

Ester became the secret scribe for Rabbi Mendes. Her brother, Isaac, didn’t want the job. Ester was proficient in Latin & Greek – but even being literate at ‘all’ was astonishing for women in the 1600’s. She yearned for knowledge and to converse with the great philosophers ..(Spinoza, Descartes, etc.).
The story of Ester is fascinating – she’s MORE than JUST a woman born before her time – a female radical thinker/ philosopher – She took huge risks that would be risky today. She took risks in signing the documents. She took risks with her communications in all her relationships – with both men and women
She entered into a marriage for convenience with a homosexual- that some people today would judge harshly.
And……Esters inquiry about God & Love – the existence of God – freedom to think freely – religious beliefs – social obligations – are presented in depth.

I have been asking myself…., “If I HAD to pick a FAVORITE character in this novel …..
would it be HELEN…..( with her inner strength)…..
I learned from this woman. She made me cry. Helen truly taught LIFE LESSONS – so subtle – but truthful – ‘emotions rise’…. and I saw just HOW STUBBORN we as people can be. CHANGE – changing our lives – even if we have dreams to make it better – can be so darn scary – Helen showed us what happens when we don’t take those risks.

Or….Ester for OBVIOUS reasons ….. she never EVER stopped climbing the mountain— her life was a one-way ticket UP……she never stopped pressing the limits of her circumstances. She was incredibly inspiring. Even her mistakes – are forgiving.

Or….*Aaron Levy*: I have a special heart for Aaron. I GOT HIM RIGHT AWAY! It helps to be Jewish to understand his pompous arrogance. I knew his attitude was just his outer shell ….and that once it was stripped away – we’d see a beautiful struggling soul.
I have much more I’d like to say about Aaron….but I’ll leave it for discussion with my buddies who are reading this right now ( or have finished it)- Melissa ….Jan ….Lisa….
and anyone else who wants to jump in for discussion.
My fear is I’d give spoilers away…..
So…..
“Melissa”….. I wanted to CRY *FOR* Aaron TWICE….
Plus….I was SO MAD AT HIM TOO! I hated a choice he made.

YIKES……Forgive me…..( nobody has to read this review)….I see I wrote it out of NEED to complete my OWN EXPERIENCE……( trying to)…

I DON’T THINK I CAN CHOOSE A FAVORITE CHARACTER….I have a soft spot of all of them!!!!!

I think this book is extraordinary, brilliant, ambitious, and exquisite! I took my time reading it. I looked up philosophers: Spinoza – etc. I thought about it when I wasn’t reading it. I wrote Melissa private messages – who read it before me – as I was dying to talk about it.

I loved the scenes where Aaron is writing his friend Marisa who went to work on a
Kibbutz in Israel. The author got EVERYTHING about Kibbutzim life right!! I started craving my tomato and cucumber breakfast ( called the dairy meal). The volunteers staying on a Kibbutz would have contests with the Israelis as to who could dice their tomato & cucumber fastest. The Americans always lost. BUT…. by chance we did win….they had to give us a yummy chocolate bar.

“The Weight of Ink” is a heavy-weight book: intellectually challenging and satisfying!!! …..Rachel Kadish is AMAZING!!!!
The only time I had thoughts that maybe this book could have been cut shorter was once when Ester, Mary, Thomas,and John ….were on their boat on the river. I’m not sure why I felt that part went on too long ……yet I actually liked it too. My thoughts though were on another part of the story – curious as to what would develop.

The SUPPORTING CHARACTERS are memorable, too!!!
The dialogue is intimate- engrossing – authentic
The INNER THOUGHTS of THE THREE MAIN CHARACTERS: Helen, Ester, and Aaron are painfully – butterflies- in – my – gut- WONDERFUL!!

There is history – Philosophy- Jewish history – theology: exploring christianity and Judaism. Interfaith relationships are explored – homosexuality – the existence of God- 17th century life: conditions of the times : The plague, and the fire in London.
20th century Kibbutz life in Israel- RICHNESS in SUBSTANCE.

The roles of women are explored. There is mystery, tragedy, triumph, dreams and disappointments…..and GORGEOUS POETIC imagery!!!

POWERFUL and WONDERFUL!!!

“Where words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain, for they breathe truth that breathe their words in pain”.

THANK YOU RACHEL RADISH!!! …more

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