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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: The Debt of Tamar

 During the second half of the 16th century, a wealthy widow by the name of Doña Antonia Nissim is arrested and charged with being a secret Jew. The punishment? Death by burning. Enter Suleiman the Magnificent, an Ottoman “Schindler,” and the most celebrated sultan in all of Turkish history. With the help of the Sultan, the widow and her children manage their escape to Istanbul. Life is seemingly idyllic for the family in their new home, that is, until the Sultan’s son meets and falls in love with Tamar, Doña Antonia’s beautiful and free-spirited granddaughter. A quiet love affair ensues until one day, the girl vanishes.

Over four centuries later, thirty-two year old Selim Osman, a playboy prince with a thriving real estate empire, is suddenly diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Abandoning the mother of his unborn child, he vanishes from Istanbul without an explanation. In a Manhattan hospital, he meets Hannah, a talented artist and the daughter of a French Holocaust survivor. As their story intertwines with that of their ancestors, readers are taken back to Nazi-occupied Paris, and to a sea-side village in the Holy Land where a world of secrets is illuminated.

Theirs is a love that has been dormant for centuries, spanning continents, generations, oceans, and religions. Bound by a debt that has lingered through time, they must right the wrongs of the past if they’re ever to break the shackles of their future.

My Review
I'm fascinated by anything set in Turkey so I was eager to read this unique take on Suleiman the Magnificent's assistance to the European Jews. Dweck has a lovely way with words that truly brought Istanbul to life: a villa on the Bosphorus, the lush gardens, and even the synagogues. There are several intertwined stories within this novel, taking the reader from Lisbon to Istanbul and then to Paris, and I actually found myself wanting to spend more time with many of the characters before moving onto the next storyline. All in all, The Debt of Tamar is an enjoyable story about faith and love across the decades. 

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About the Author

Nicole Dweck is a writer whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country.
As a descendant of Sephardic (Spanish) refugees who escaped the Inquisition and settled on Ottoman territory, Dweck has always been interested in Sephardic history and the plight of refugees during the Spanish Inquisition. The Debt of Tamar, her debut novel, was a two-time finalist in the UK’s Cinnamon Press Novel Award Competition.
For more information visit Nicole’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.