The Debt of Tamar

February 15, 2014

The Debt of Tamar
By: Nicole Dweck
224 Pages

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-threatening 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 seaside 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.  ---courtesy of Publishers

The Debt of Tamar may be author Nicole Dweck's first novel, but you would never know it. She writes beautifully, lyrically. She tells a story that pulls you in from the beginning and keeps you glued. This talented author takes you to the corners of the world, spans centuries of time, and you are her willing companions every step of the journey. This amazing book is told in several parts, each being dedicated to an important character within the story. 

I warn you, it's very difficult to do this book justice in a review. I don't want to give anything away, yet not give a good description of the story.I loved every single page of this book. In fact, i took 5 1/2 pages of notes while reading it. There is so much that happens between the book's covers. I didn't want to put it down.

The central theme of the book is how one act can alter the lives of so many. One decision changes the lives- present and future. What is done out of love and protection of someone you love can set into motion a chain reaction.

Jose's parents make a choice that impacts their son's life. When he has a daughter, he makes a devastating decision that impacts numerous lives and futures. Throughout the book you see this common thread within the characters. Each one's actions set in motion a chain reaction.

As I read Jose's story, I was all over the emotional map. The highs of his joys, and the lows of his heartbreak. His bravery was inspiring, and the pride he takes in his Jewish faith is remarkable. He's devastated when he sees a public execution of unrepentant Jews in Portugal, 1592 and it stays with him. He learns the truth of his own heritage, and doesn't look back.

The story takes a devastating turn when he sends his only daughter away so she can't marry the Sultan's son she's in love with. This is where you see the biggest chain reaction. From this decision, lives are affected for generations to come.

Nicole Dweck takes you all over the world, through centuries of time. You will become immersed in the Jewish culture, Turkish Sultan life, and more. You will become glued to the characters, and the story they unfold. 

I apologize, this review doesn't begin to do the book justice. There is so much that happens within the book's 224 pages. It is a spellbinding read that you will not want to put down. You will see how one person's actions affect the world around them. Like me, you will be hooked and endure a journey of love, heartbreak, and strength.


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