Daughters of Jerusalem
Daughters of Jerusalem is not just a family saga, nor even a novel deeply inspired by the author’s own family story, reaching back to her great-grandmother. It touches on the history of Jerusalem itself, from millennia ago to the years shortly after World War II. It is a story told with love, for the city, its people, and the three women who make up the backbone of the book.
The book begins with Lili, who after suffering many miscarriages makes a deal with God in exchange for a healthy baby. After her daughter, Mercada, begins to thrive, she moves the family to Jerusalem and there begins to build up a life for them. The book follow first Lili, then Mercada, then Mercada’s own daughter, Alegra, as Jerusalem is shaped by two world wars and British rule, which exacerbates small but present tensions between the Jewish and Arabic citizens of the city.
As a history lesson or a family saga, the book would be fascinating. As both, it feels like less than the sum of its parts. The history feels heavily laid on, as though written for people who know nothing about the area, and I found it distracted from the story of the women.
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