The Trav­els of Daniel Ascher

Déb­o­rah Lévy-Berther­at, Adri­ana Hunter, trans.
  • Review
By – December 11, 2015

This is a French adven­ture of a 20-some­thing gen­tile arche­ol­o­gy stu­dent, Hélène, who is deter­mined to under­stand more about her family’s secret his­to­ry. She begins by being housed in Paris by her elu­sive great-uncle, Daniel. Daniel has writ­ten numer­ous famous adven­ture nov­els under a pseu­do­nym. As Hélène learns more about her uncle’s past, she too becomes wrapped up in the trav­el adven­ture sto­ries in the Black Sig­nia series as it relates to her uncle and her family’s history.

As she begins to uncov­er an arche­o­log­i­cal past, she draws the read­er in on a jour­ney through pre- and post-war Paris. She becomes famil­iar with the lost Jew­ish neigh­bor­hoods, and the build­ings and com­mu­ni­ties that were destroyed by the war. As this sto­ry becomes inter­twined with her own family’s his­to­ry, she devel­ops a rela­tion­ship with a fel­low stu­dent and becomes part of a Parisian stu­dent group. The stu­dents spend time con­tem­plat­ing the world, smok­ing, drink­ing, and play­ing child­ish games; their world seems more for­eign to Hélène than does the pre­war real­i­ty of Paris. Some of her fam­i­ly dis­cov­er­ies seem obvi­ous, but her search and much of the his­to­ry and detail she unearths keep the read­er engaged. 

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 14 and above.

Dro­ra Arussy, Ed.D., is an edu­ca­tion­al con­sul­tant who spe­cial­izes in inte­grat­ing Jew­ish and sec­u­lar stud­ies, the arts into edu­ca­tion, and cre­ative teach­ing for excel­lence in Jew­ish edu­ca­tion. She is the moth­er to four school-age chil­dren and has taught from pre-school through adult. Dro­ra is an adjunct pro­fes­sor of Hebrew lan­guage at Drew University.

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