IN CONVERSATION WITH GREG CHANGNON, FORMER BOOK CLUB COLUMNIST, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION
LAUREN BELFER, And After the Fire: A Novel
BOOK CLUB PICK!
Award-winning author Lauren Belfer’sdeeply researched and compelling narrative asks the question:what would you do if you found a long-last artistic manuscript that was anti-Semitic?
In Berlin, Germany, in 1783, amid the city’s glittering salons where Christians and Jews mingle freely despite simmering anti-Semitism, Sara Itzig Levy, a renowned musician, conceals the manuscript of an anti-Jewish cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach, an unsettling gift to her from Bach’s son, her teacher.
In the ruins of Germany in 1945, at the end of World War II, American soldier Henry Sachs takes a souvenir, this now old music manuscript, from a seemingly deserted mansion and mistakenly kills the girl who tries to stop him.
In America in 2010, Henry’s niece, Susanna, struggles to rebuild her life after she experiences a devastating act of violence. When her uncle dies soon after, she uncovers the long-hidden music manuscript. She becomes determined to discover what it is and to return it to its rightful owner.
Interweaving the stories of Susanna and Sara, and their families, And After the Fire traverses over two hundred years of history, from the eighteenth century through the Holocaust and into today, seamlessly melding past and present, real and imagined.
RACHEL KADISH, The Weight of Ink: A Novel
BOOK CLUB PICK!
Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.
As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.”
Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order to reconcile the life of the heart and mind.
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