[Book Review] The Fruit of her Hands by Michelle Cameron

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By Michelle Cameron

Based on the author’s own ancestor, The Fruit of Her Hands is the story of Rebbetzin Shira, wife of Rabbi Meir ben Baruch of Rothenberg. Shira was the daughter of a widowed rabbi, raised in Paris in the thirteenth century. A rebellious child, she shirked the conventions of her gender, favoring the study of sacred texts with her father and his yeshiva students. She then meets her husband and flourishes as a wife and mother. After enduring persecution and violence from the Parisian Catholics, the family resettles in Germany.

Cameron crafts a well-told story of her early ancestor. I found a number of interesting parallels between Shira of Ashkenaz and Queen Esther. Both are vivacious in their youth, seeking to push the limits of their sex in their early days. Both find love in their respective marriages and are confronted my vengeful men seeking to destroy the Jewish people.

The book is very well researched and places the reader at the center of Jewish life in thirteenth century Europe. It was a perilous time in history. The frequent references to scholarly commentators like Rashi and Maimonides helps to frame the time period of the setting.

If you enjoy the writings of Anita Diamant and Maggie Anton, this should be your next read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

More About the Author

An Interview with Author Michelle Cameron

Michelle Cameron’s novel Beyond the Ghetto Gates received silver in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, in the category of historical fiction. Q: Can you sum up Beyond the Ghetto Gates in 20 words or less? The clash of Jewish-Catholic cultures when Napoleon emancipated the Jews from their repressive Italian ghettos, embodied in two embattled women. […]

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