The Book of Splendor by Frances Sherwood

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Synopsis

A historical novel about the most unlikely of lovers, interwoven with the mysticism of the Jewish occult.

Frances Sherwood brings to life the experience of the Jewish community during a period of oppression and rebirth. Set in seventeenth-century Prague, The Book of Splendor is an adventure-filled romance stocked with court intrigue and political tension, including the machinations of the rival Ottoman Empire, the religious controversies of Protestantism, and the constant threat of violence to the Jewish community. At the heart of the novel is Rochel, a bastard seamstress who escapes poverty through an arranged marriage to the tailor Zev, but falls in love with Yossel, the Golem created by Rabbi Loew to protect the Jewish community. Meanwhile, Emperor Rudolph II puts the safety of all Prague at risk in his mad bid for an elixir of immortality. The Book of Splendor is an epic tale reminiscent of Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, and a love story as unlikely as Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring. Reading group guide included.
 

About Frances Sherwood

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Frances Sherwood is a teacher in South Bend, Indiana, where she lives with her husband. Her previous books of fiction include Vindication and The Book of Splendor.
 
Published July 17, 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company. 349 pages
Genres: History, Romance, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction

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At the same time, Zoe, though allegedly bright, prefers to act dumb: She seduces Margo's father, and, when he commits suicide after a lovers' quarrel, marries partNative American Grey Cloud right after high school.

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also, she doesn’t romanticize the Aztecs or Mayans—human sacrifice being, after all, a pretty hard sell.

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Rochel is one of the best tailors in Europe, and her skill in making clothes for the gentry and courtiers of Hradcany Castle brings her to the attention of Emperor Rudolph II.

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Publishers Weekly

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Rudolph's well-documented dementia is balanced with the tender love story, even if the latter's resolution seems more wishful than credible in what is on one level a tale of a Jewish community whose right to exist is under continual threat.

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