Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Book Review: Rashi’s Daughters

Posted by kneidalach on February 5, 2008

When I came home one day and saw this book on the coffee table, I was very excited. I heard about this series for months, and I couldn’t wait to read it. I was curious to know more about Medieval French Jewry from “inside”, their customs, religious practices and how they differ from today, as well as what was Rashi’s personality like, who were his daughters? how did the society of the time accepted learned women?

Before grabbing on to the book, I noticed that the cover of the book shows Leonardy da Vinci’s portait of a non-Jewish aristocrat done in late 15th century in Italy.
Does that smell fishy to you?
Anyhow, I grabbed on to the book and didn’t put it down untill I finished it.

It was a great disappoinment.
Don’t read it! It’s a waste of trees, oil, ink, space, time, etc.

First of all, there is no character description or development. You don’t know who they are whatoever.

Second, the setting and historical background is not illuminating at all. It just reminds us a bit of history, like people didn’t have toilet paper back then.

Third, there is no plot! it’s like a chronological order of life that is slow and boring. It’s the kind of book you hope something might happen in the next page that will be worth your time reading, but you never find it.

What I will point out, however, is that there are nicely described sexual relations, but I wanted to read literature, not pornography.

It seems like the author “has done an extensive research on funky things (ChallahbackGirl)” which, on one hand, didn’t tell us much about the setting at all, and on the other hand, it didn’t let her create characters, images, and a basic plot, although I’m not sure if she would be able to create it anyway.
I haven’t read the rest of the books in the series, and I’m not going to.

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3 Responses to “Book Review: Rashi’s Daughters”

  1. Oyster said

    Don’t tell JB! He’s good friends with the author. In fact, I’m currently reading his personal copy of the book. 🙂

    I’m such a sucker for historical fiction (especially of the Mosaic persuasion), that I’ll probably finish it anyway, despite your negative review.

    Also, that quote is actually from “funky” ChallahBackGirl. :-p

  2. JB said

    I completely disagree. Having read both this book and the second in the series (the third is not out yet, nor entirely written), I have found them to be incredibly insightful into medieval French Jewry. Yes, the sex scenes are a little graphic, but as the author puts it, she “wrote the book she would want to read.” Perhaps I am a little biased, given that I am IN the book (the first one, anyway), but I would highly recommend them to anyone, and have on many occasions.

  3. Rich said

    I’ve read both. I liked the second better than the first. They’re romance novels, really. Miriam does a much better job of laying out the structure of the society. It’s a better piece of literature overall, but too intentionally topical in places, I think.

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