Book Review: The Debt of Tamar

March 25, 2014 Book Review, reviews 3

Book Review: The Debt of TamarThe Debt of Tamar by Nicole Dweck
Published by Devon House Press on February, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 332
Source: complimentary review copy
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During the second half of the 16th century, a wealthy widow by the name of Doña Antonia Nissim is arrested and charged with being a secret Jew. The punishment? Death by burning. Enter Suleiman the Magnificent, an Ottoman "Schindler," and the most celebrated sultan in all of Turkish history. With the help of the Sultan, the widow and her children manage their escape to Istanbul. Life is seemingly idyllic for the family in their new home, that is, until the Sultan's son meets and falls in love with Tamar, Doña Antonia's beautiful and free-spirited granddaughter. A quiet love affair ensues until one day, the girl vanishes.

Over four centuries later, thirty-two year old Selim Osman, a playboy prince with a thriving real estate empire, is suddenly diagnosed with a life-theatening condition. Abandoning the mother of his unborn child, he vanishes from Istanbul without an explanation. In a Manhattan hospital, he meets Hannah, a talented artist and the daughter of a French Holocaust survivor. As their story intertwines with that of their ancestors, readers are taken back to Nazi-occupied Paris, and to a seaside village in the Holy Land where a world of secrets is illuminated.

Theirs is a love that has been dormant for centuries, spanning continents, generations, oceans, and religions. Bound by a debt that has lingered through time, they must right the wrongs of the past if they're ever to break the shackles of their future

Nicole Dweck has a talent for creating lush sentences that make the reader not only see with the mind’s eye the landscape but also smell and taste the sights and sounds of locations.  Not only were her descriptions rich with atmosphere, but long after I finished reading the novel, I found myself thinking about the circumstances that led to the “Sultan’s Curse.”

I must be honest and as much as I adored Dweck’s writing, I did not like very many of the characters.  In fact, I can only think of two ~ Hannah, the artist from Connecticut in today’s era and Doña Antonia Nissim from the latter portion of the 16th century.  The men were obnoxious and did not appear to have a very high opinion or thought for women {oh, wait! that has been an issue since the beginning of time, right?!?}.  And the circumstances that seem to bring about the Sultan’s Curse were horrific and made me so incredibly angry {oh wait! the Sultan during the 16th century could do whatever he wanted, right?!?}.   So, in that many emotions were wrung out of me during the reading of The Debt of Tamar, then yes, it is a fantastic read.  I cried every few chapters for the sheer frustration of what the characters had to endure.  I got angry.  Again for what the characters had to endure.  And I closed the book in satisfaction and belief that although the novel ends without a “neat fix,” it ends justifiably.

One other thing to mention ~ I did not understand the meaning of the actual Sultan’s Curse.  I simply could not figure out the phrasing ~ I grasped the actual events, but not the wheres or whys.  I don’t really know how to explain what I’m trying to refer to without giving away spoilers.  Just, if you’ve read The Debt of Tamar, I’d love to chat with you via email or on Twitter about that part!  I was sorely confused!

And is the cover not simply divine?!?  Definite kudos to the artist for this cover creation!

Overall, The Debt of Tamar is a must read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction or how persecution can be overcome ~ both of the Jewish culture and the female culture.  I cannot wait to see what this author has in store for us next!

Many thanks to Amy Bruno of Historical Fiction Virtual Tours for inclusion on this book tour.  To read more thoughts on The Debt of Tamar I hope you’ll visit the Tour.

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