Rashi’s Daughters, Book I: Joheved by Maggie Anton

41wE5smdEML._AC_UL320_SR212,320_8 Loved It
1 Liked It
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• Though I haven’t finished it, I love it! – Stacey
• I have not finished it! I loved it though. It will be finished. Looking forward to the wedding. – Tami
• I liked it, a fun read. It made me remember a lot of my religious learning from when I was a child through the talmud learning in the book. It also made me realize why I approached my studies and thesis the way I did in grad school. It seemed natural to me at the time whereas now I see that it was the way I was taught to approach learning in general. – Danica
• Again, historical fiction is always a favorite of mine. I really connected with the characters. – Melissa
• This was a new subject matter for me, and I found it so interesting. I learned a lot. – Kerry
• I really enjoyed this book. Looking at the female side of this time period was enlightening. I have already finished book 2 and anxiously await book 3. – Carrie
• Since I am newly married to a Jewish man, I find that I’m fascinated by the Jewish religion and I keep wanting to learn more. This book helped me explore my thirst for knowledge. Plus, it was great historical fiction – well developed characters within an interesting setting. – Rachelle
• I’m loving it so far! Can’t wait to finish it! – Brandi
• Very much a woman’s book. I enjoyed the intimate relationships I was able to have with the family in the books. The characters are relatable and enjoyable to spend time with. – Marlo

Conclusion: We really enjoyed reading this especially because we got to meet with the author! We had a wonderful meeting and a great time speaking with Maggie.

Reading Group Guide

In anticipation of our author visit with Maggie Anton, we have emailed a list of questions to her. Since the list is so long, she has emailed some of her responses already. Here are the questions with the answers that we have received. Ms. Anton’s answers are noted with an “MA:”

1. Where did you find your inspiration for the character traits of each daughter?
MA: Each of the daughters is based on my own different traits.

2. Was Rashi known to have a temper? How much is known about him and his family?

3. Judaism praises and mandates modesty in all aspects of life, from business to love. What really happens especially when it comes to wealth and modesty is another discussion altogether… How do you reconcile including such explicit sex scenes into a relationship that more than likely was healthy however would have been much more modest living in such proximity to the rest of the family?

4. Which character is your favorite? Does one resonate more closely to you than another?
MA: As I write each book, that character becomes my favorite.

5. When you finish a book, do you “miss” your characters?
MA: Haven’t finished the series yet.

6. What is your best writing tool? ie: quiet room? lucky typewriter? cat in your lap?
MA: Quiet room with no interruptions. Instrumental music is OK, but no singing or talking.

7. How did you decide which talmudic passages to include?

8. Have you been to that region of France?
MA: Yes, for 3 weeks in March 1998.

9. You wrote the characters to be very similar in ritual and practice to today’s Orthodox Judaism however the everyday interactions and relationships seemed much more liberal in comparison. Do you feel that the Jews of that period were not as separationist, strict and regimented in all aspects of life as today’s ultra Orthodox community has become in the last 20 years?

10. What do you feel you gained/learned the most in writing this story?

11. Do you have any advice for an aspiring novel writer?

12. Can you compare/contrast the roles of women in Judaism then and today?

13. The inclusion of the demonology surprised me because it seems to have fallen away as such a strong element of Judaism and life today. Do you feel that it was a reflection and influence of the time? or a part of the religion that has fallen away to make room for more modern thought?

14. Did differing views/interpretations of the Talmud cause disharmony within communities?
MA: Sometimes.
Were accepted interpretations consistent in schools, communities, geographical areas? MA: No.

15. Can you clarify the issue of Kashrut that Rashi disputed? Specifically, if there were, why were there different slaughtering laws or customs for different communities?

16. Why was the term “Christian” not used?
MA:”Christ” means Messiah; so Jews, for whom the Messiah hasn’t come yet, never use it to refer to Jesus.

17. You noted on your website that you were surprised to learn that few Jews made a living as moneylenders. Why do you think that is a common perception?
MA: Maybe Shakespeare and his character Shylock? But there are many misperceptions about how Jews lived in 11th-12th century Europe.

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