The third and final novel in Anton’s series tells the story of Rachel, the youngest daughter of Rashi. While struggling with the economic difficulties and political uncertainty caused in part by the First Crusade, Rachel must choose between her responsibilities to her immediate family, particularly to her father, and her desire to be with her husband during his travels throughout Europe and Northern Africa. But such desire is complicated by Rachel’s realization that women in other Jewish communities lack the freedom to participate in Jewish study and ritual, as Rachel has done with her sisters since she was a child.
As she did in the other two books, Anton has written a fascinating and detailed story based on the historical realities of life around the time of the First Crusade. Most impressively, she weaves translations of texts and debates over Jewish practice into the story, bringing her knowledge of Talmud and Jewish ritual into this book in an accessible and meaningful way. Readers — both those with and those without a background in traditional Jewish learning and Jewish history — will enjoy Book III: Rachel for its engaging plot and historical depth. Family tree, glossary, map, timeline.