Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Review: The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

Title: The Weight of Ink 
Author: Rachel Kadish
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publish Date: June 6, 2017
Source: Borrowed

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "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.”   "

My Two Cents:

"The Weight of Ink" is intricate story surrounding a historical mystery of a young woman in the 1660s who has the privilege of being a scribe for a rabbi in England. At the time, this is a job that a woman would almost never be given. Centuries later, a crotchety professor and a impatient graduate student are trying to find out more about this mysterious scribe.

This is a good, immersive story that makes it easy to get lost in the world of Ester, the scribe, as well as the more familiar world of Professor Helen Watt and graduate student Aaron. These main characters as well as the secondary characters are great. Ester occupies an interesting space in this story. Because of her affiliation with the rabbi and his family, she has a lot of opportunities that many other women during that time didn't have. I loved Helen. For some reason, I am incredibly drawn to characters who have tough exteriors and rich back stories. I loved seeing how Helen's story unfolded and all that we get to learn about her through the book. And then there is Aaron. Admittedly, it took me a little bit to warm up to him. He's impulsive and to some degree, self-important but very quickly, we get to dive into what makes him tick and what pushes and motivates him. We learn a lot about him through the letters that he writes, which makes for a nice juxtaposition from the way that he acts.

At over 500 pages, it would have been easy for this book to get boring. There are so many books where you are ready (really, really ready) for them to end by the point they get that large. In this case, the author does such a great job with pacing the story and keeping the twists and turns going throughout the book that by the time the end comes, you still are not ready to let go of these characters. 


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