This excellent historical fiction novel is filled with fascinating tidbits. Like, the prophecy that Jews have to be present in all parts of the world before the messiah comes. Or a lost tribe of Jews had been found in Brazil. A bit overwritten with lines like “every molecule in her was alive, aligned, iron filings to a magnet” or “the world was a geography of hidden places”. I was getting dizzy following all the different story lines.
The plot follows two researchers that have found literary artifacts from the early 1600’s relating to London Jews. This discovery was initially found by owners of a four-hundred-year old house, Bridgette and Ian. So, we have the complicated background stories of the researchers Aaron and Helen. We are also following characters in the London of the 1660’s. Ester is a scribe to a blind rabbi who is using an assumed name to write letters to expelled Jewish heretic Spinoza!
I expected more a of clear-cut definition of why Spinoza was considered a heretic. Ester proved that there was no God who could treasure martyrdom which meant that the mother of the rabbi she worked for died in vain. She had been tortured during the Spanish inquisition. What the writer came up with was unsatisfying.
I longed for a logical connection between Aaron and Helen versus Ester’s story. Still this was an illuminating novel dealing with Jews in London during this period.