There is, at least with me, a difference between my favorite books and the best books. The Debt Of Tamar by Nicole Dweck fits both categories, a rare occurrence, only also achieved by And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The Debt Of Tamar begins with a wealthy widow in the 16th century by the name of Dona Antonia Nissim. From the get-go we are shocked with a tragic event, Dona Antonia is arrested and charged with being a secret Jew during the Inquisition. The punishment for this is death by burning.
A little known fact to the world: The Ottoman Empire was open to accepting Jewish refugees. Dona Antonia, and her children, escape to Istanbul. Their life is tranquil, their social status in good standing, until Tamar, Dona Antonia’s granddaughter, falls for the Sultan’s son. Working, trying to be together, a tragic turn comes where she disappears, causing a curse, or “debt”.
Map Of The Ottoman Empire. Credit Here.
In the modern-day, centuries later, Selim Osman, a playboy prince and real-estate mogul, is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. He leaves the mother of his unborn child behind without explanation and suddenly leaves to Manhattan for treatment. He has personal ills plaguing him, guilt. He meets Hannah, a talented artist, and this launches us into the story of their ancestors, taking us back to Nazi Paris and Israel, we find that there is a love that has been waiting since Tamar, and it is Selim’s job to break the curse before it destroys them all.
This, as I stated above, is both one of my favorite books and one of the best books ever. Dweck, a debut author, takes a love story and stretches it across centuries. We find how people’s paths cross, and that fate does bring us together. I enjoyed the many cultures represented in the book, especially the fact that Muslims were charitable to the Jews once, and that both religious groups have the ability to coexist like they once did again. Redemption shines through from this novel, showing that our ancestors do influence us greatly, and that they are just human too, and that we may need to correct the mistakes they made. Love isn’t always romantic, too…
The Debt of Tamar was so engaging, I seriously could not put it down. There are many historicals that are good, and then there are those that have a unique plot, where we feel the characters. Where we see their flaws, their connections, the human experience. How we are tied to our ancestors, and how they influence us even generations later. This is one of those, which make us reach deep inside ourselves and change our lives forever.
The Debt Of Tamar seriously is a rare book. I truly believe that I am a better person, a purer person, after reading it. That has only come from maybe 1% of the books I have ever read. Nicole Dweck is a ingenious storyteller, and I cannot wait for her future works of beautiful literature.
Nicole Dweck is the author of the USA Today, best-selling novel, The Debt of Tamar. Her award-winning, debut novel has received critical acclaim from readers, reviewers and publications such as Writer’s Digest Magazine and The Historical Novel Society. It has also been featured on the Amazon Kindle Bestseller List, Barnes & Noble Nook Best-Seller List, and the Apple Ibooks Best-Seller List.
Her non-fiction articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines including The New York Observer and Haute Living Magazine.
Nicole holds a BA in Journalism (NYU) and a Masters Degree in International Studies (NYU).
She lives in New York City with her dashingly handsome husband and their 16 month old munchkin.