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As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of 17th-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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By CHRISTINE on 11-02-17
Compelling characters question life choices, ethics, religious rules, love and desire
I have listened to this book twice, and will probably listen to it again because I am still learning about the characters. There are three main subjects: an aging professor of 17th century Jewish history, a PHD student starting a dissertation about Shakespeare and his Jewish characters, and a 17th century Portuguese scribe who is the focus of their study. The history scholars discover a cache of documents that provide new insights into the lives of Jews in the last half of turbulent 17th century London. Each of the protagonists faces personal turning points, and has to navigate family history, gender expectations, self doubt, and cultural prejudice and must construct a way forward. I found the 17th century and 21st century history fascinating, ranging from Portugal to Amsterdam to London, and from Israel to London. The writing is dense and rewards rereading. The author gives several examples of strong women and good men, enhancing the novel with characters who add perspective and nuance to the histories. These include a Portuguese servant, real philosophers, a kind and learned rabbi, hide bound rabbis, a Christian playboy and actor, a gay man forced into naval service by his father, young and old librarians, and rival academics, among others.
60 of 61 people found this review helpful
By Joan M. on 08-07-17
Excellent story, writing, characters-everything you want in a big novel
Rachel Kaddish has fulfilled an experienced reader's highest wishes for a very satisfying novel. She has done a remarkable lot of research about life in London in the 1600,, the fate of some Jewish families and rabbis and philosophical writings, and English academic life in the 21st century. Also, she has imagined characters that hold interest in themselves. We go between these different times like a good mystery. But this is a full- bodied novel. Every time I had to put it down, I wanted to go back to it. I first saw this book in a bookstore. I was attracted to the title and to the cover. I hadn't heard of the author nor of the book, but I knew I wanted to read it. I am so very glad I did. Among much else it does, it shines light on the importance of our need to continue to make the world a free, safe place for all women to have equality.
32 of 33 people found this review helpful