The weight of ink / Rachel Kadish.
Booklist Reviews 2017 May #1
Kadish positions two women born centuries apart yet united by a thirst for knowledge at the core of a richly textured, addictive novel stretching back and forth through time, from contemporary London to the late seventeenth century. When Helen Watt, a seriously debilitated expert on Jewish history, joins forces with a graduate student to uncover the identity of the anonymous scholar who penned a sheaf of newly discovered seventeenth-century Jewish documents, the two race against both the clock and another team of academics in an attempt to unmask the long-overlooked "Aleph." In 1660s London, Rachel Velasquez, a Jewish immigrant from Amsterdam, becomes a scribe for a blind rabbi. As a woman, she struggles against societal expectations and prejudices to achieve her ambitions. Meanwhile, Helen battles against the odds to uncover one last buried piece of history and give Rachel her due before it is too late. Kadish has fashioned a suspenseful literary tale that serves as a compelling tribute to women across the centuries committed to living, breathing, and celebrating the life of the mind. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2017 April #2
Helen Watt, an elderly British academic in Jewish studies, sees her final opportunity for fame in a collection of 17th-century documents discovered in a cupboard behind a stairway in the home of a former student. The documents, primarily written in Portuguese and Hebrew, are the work of an unknown scribe, identified by the Hebrew letter aleph. As she researches, Helen and her graduate assistant Aaron Levy find that "aleph" is actually a woman named Ester Velasquez who scribed for a rabbi, blinded during the Inquisition. Ester, like Helen, chose a life of intellect over that of marriage and family. The stories of both women are linked as the novel moves back and forth between their lives 350 years apart. Ester and her blind rabbi are beset by the plague and anti-Semitism while Helen and Aaron struggle through the toxicity of academia and their own botched personal relationships.
LJ Reviews 2017 May #2
Inviting comparisons to A.S. Byatt's Possession, Kadish's third novel (after Tolstoy Lied) features two modern scholars investigating a literary historical mystery centered on a female Jewish scribe in 17th-century London. Immersive period detail about Jewish life in 1660s London combines with a riveting plot that touches on the pressures women have faced throughout time, balancing intellectual pursuits with devotion to family. (LJ 4/15/17)Copyright 2017 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2017 April #4
Like A.S. Byatt's