Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Monday, March 3, 2014

Historical Review: The Debt of Tamar

I had the pleasure of reading Nicole Dweck's debut novel, The Debt of Tamar, and it blew me away.

About the Book

Publication Date: February 4, 2013
Devon House Press
Paperback; 332p
ISBN-10: 061558361X

Amazon Rating: 4.8 stars / 20 reviews
Goodreads Rating: 4.17 stars / 18 reviews

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-theatening 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

The Debt of Tamar is an emotionally riveting tale that spans several centuries and connects dozens of people together, linking them back in time. It was fascinating how chains of events exploded on each other, from the 16th century until present day. I was literally floored.

Ms. Dweck, writes beautifully, with vivid and evocative descriptions. Her words flow with such talent that I was surprised this was her debut. 

I read this book in one day, only putting it down to take a deep breath, and walk away for a moment. The Debt of Tamar, will challenge you, it will rock you to the core, and you'll come back for more.

The story opens with Jose and Reyna, both raised by Doña Antonia, and they are fleeing Portugal where they've lived all their lives. Having been raised Catholic, they find out that they are actually Jewish, and the Inquisition is murdering Jews daily. With the help of the Sultan, they flee to Istanbul where they are free to be who they were meant to be. But on the way, Jose and Reyna fall in love. And so begins a chain of events that will forever change, curse and torment the characters in the book.

Jose and Reyna birth a single child, Tamar--and it is her debt (actually her family's debt) to the Sultan who falls in love with her that unleashes madness and misfortune on both their lines. The only way to break the curse is for Tamar and Murat to come together again in some other life.

We watch as Tamar and Murat's lines cross, tragically, centuries from their lifetime. How those who come in contact with them are affected and how a centuries old curse is finally laid to rest--the debt is paid.

The Debt of Tamar, is fast-paced, wonderfully written, and will leave you emotionally rocked. Definitely worth a read, whether you like historical or not. Its a beautiful blend of eras and how our past, and the past of our ancestors, truly define who we are. Tissue warning! You will probably cry.

Well, done, Ms. Dweck! I look forward to reading more works from you in the future!

About the Author

Nicole Dweck is a writer whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country.

The Debt of Tamar, her debut novel, was a two-time finalist in the UK's Cinnamon Press Novel Award Competition. It has also received an honorable award mention in the category of Mainstream/Literary Fiction from Writers Digest and was the highest rated book for two weeks running on the Harper Collin's "Authonomy" website.

Nicole lives in New York City with her husband and son. 

Connect with Nicole on Goodreads.

Visit more sites hosting Ms. Dweck! Link to Tour Page: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thedebtoftamartour

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