Hisdadukah is the youngest child of the Talmudic scholar Rav Hisda in 3rd century Babylonia. She sits in on the lectures that her father gives his students so she can learn also. When she is 10 he asks her in front of the class which of a certain pair of his students she wishes to marry. For reasons she can’t explain she answers, “Both of them.” That answer sets the course for her life. After her first husband dies suddenly she flees to Palestine to avoid the attentions of the second man who she blames for the death of her husband.
This book is based on a girl who is mentioned in the Talmud who gave that answer to a question about her marriage. It is a great historical novel about life in the Middle East in the 3rd century. It blends Jewish studies with the study of sorcery which is a woman’s art. Everyone wears amulets to protect against disease and misfortune. They bury special bowls with spells written on them to protect them.
There is a contrast between how the Jews of Babylonia, who are descended from the Jews who stayed after their captivity was over, and the Jews of Palestine who are living under Roman rule, act and practice their religion. Hisdadukah moves between both worlds.
I loved this book and can’t wait for the next ones to see what happens to her and her family. This author has written another series based on historical Jewish women that I am going to check out.
The Wild Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria’s Defiant Daughter by Mary Hart Perry
Princess Louise was the headstrong daughter of Queen Victoria. She was considered “The Wild One” because she went to art school and mixed with commoners. She was the first princess to marry outside of a royal family in 300 years. Some people said it was a love match. Other people say it was to cover up a scandal.
This is a historical fiction novel that imagines what happened between the time she went to school and the time she reappeared in the public eye in time for her wedding. In this version the Queen arranged the marriage to a man with secrets of his own who would not object to marrying a Princess with a damaged reputation. When Princess Louise sends the man in charge of her security to find some people from her past, he starts to dig into what happened to her.
This was interesting. I didn’t know about this member of the royal family. The true details of her life in this book were intriguing. I would be interested in reading more about her.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Dirk Gently has a detective agency where nothing is ever found. He mainly investigates missing cats and he continues searching (and billing the clients) for long after the cat’s expected lifespan. But when an university acquaintance is charged with murdering his boss, Dirk takes the case – whether the client wants him to or not.
I love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I read it over and over. Since this is by the same author, I was excited to read it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that great. It just wasn’t as funny as I wanted it to be. There weren’t great insights and moments that stay with you like in his other books.
Next week we are going on a reading vacation. That’s a vacation where there is a lot of reading, not a vacation from reading. It has been a long year. We moved, we both got new jobs, the husband was hospitalized twice, we got married, and on and on. We want a vacation where we sit on the beach and do nothing. I’m trying to decide what to take. I’m going to go to the book store and get the new Terry Pratchett book Dodger and J.K. Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy. I can’t go get them until a few days before we leave or I’ll start reading them!
What would you take for a week on the beach?