By Talia Carner
Reviewed by Angie Mangino
Rating: 5 stars
It is not often that this reviewer finds a book where just one word can sum up the review, but Jerusalem Maiden is just such a book.
Talia Carner writes a literate, compelling story that reaches readers on so many levels.
Intimately following Esther’s life, from September 1911 as an 11-year-old girl until December 1924 as a 25-year-old woman, readers will immediately connect to Esther. The author’s writing is impeccable, the voice of Esther so age appropriate, that readers will live this time of Esther’s life with her as if standing beside her.
From Palestine to Paris, the setting comes alive with Esther’s life as a Jerusalem maiden in the days of the Ottoman Empire, with all that entailed. Various sects of Jews, Muslims, and Christians all had their own perception of the holy city of Jerusalem.
Esther, as a Haredi Jew, lived one of the most conservative Orthodox faiths of the time. Bound by the rules of her religion, Esther’s sole purpose by it in life was to marry and make babies to hasten the arrival of the Messiah for the sake of all Jews. She, however, did not want to marry, desiring instead to follow her artistic talent, something totally forbidden to her.
Although this girl pulls readers into a historically based story, one can readily identify with the confines the extremes of any religion place on individuals throughout time. It is the universal story of choices between adherence to rules and individual desires. Must it be an all or nothing choice? Can one be faithful while reconciling the two?
Concluding with an epilogue set in Paris in May 1968, the author expertly ties together an extraordinary story that readers will not quickly forget.
Jerusalem Maiden caused this reviewer to question the industry standard star rating used for book reviews, feeling the highest rating of five stars was not adequately high enough this time.