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The Weight of Ink av Rachel Kadish
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The Weight of Ink (utgåvan 2017)

av Rachel Kadish (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
7444022,388 (4.11)58
"An intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A.S. Byatt's Possession and Geraldine Brooks's People of the Book Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, anemigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history. As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents' scribe, the elusive"Aleph."Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must makein order to reconcile the life of the heart and mind"--… (mer)
Medlem:nose_in_a_book_girl
Titel:The Weight of Ink
Författare:Rachel Kadish (Författare)
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2017), Edition: 1st Edition, 576 pages
Samlingar:Cash, Unread, First Editions, Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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The Weight of Ink av Rachel Kadish

  1. 00
    Eventide av Therese Bohman (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Someone with Aaron's personality & knowledge of his field (really lack of knowledge --c'mon, the guy has no idea how to read a sonnet & they're supposed to be his dissertation topic) is much more likely to be like the PhD student in Eventide. Eventide is the Long Scandinavian Night of the Soul to the Romance/Fantasy that is Weight of Ink… (mer)
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It took me a while to get into this book, but the combination of academic research, old documents, and the two story lines grew on me, especially as it showed how academics can misread. So, if you are into 17th century British history and/or academics/strong female thinkers, give this one a try. ( )
  WiebkeK | Jan 21, 2021 |
https://www.instagram.com/p/CG3c1XMh222/

Rachel Kadish - The Weight of Ink: There is something alluring about this novel, even as it shifts time (and tone) repeatedly. You are never allowed to be comfortable with the narrative, and that’s a good thing. #cursorybookreviews #cursoryreviews ( )
  khage | Nov 11, 2020 |
Mon souhait… ce que je veux, c’est que tu vives, Ester. Sans connaître la faim. Je le souhaite avec une ferveur plus grande, Dieu me pardonne, que celle avec laquelle je prie pour te voir changer de conduite. Je connais ton obstination. Toutes mes paroles ne t’empêcheront ps d faire usage du cerveau que Dieu t’a donné, même si tu oublies que c’est effectivement un don de Dieu. Mais permets-moi un dernier conseil. Marie-toi, et mange à ta faim.
(p. 445-446, Chapitre 22, Partie 4).
Un printemps de liberté intellectuelle, un sursaut de conscience, une mort paisible. Telle était l’histoire d’Ester dans son entier. Et elle éveillait en lui une pitié mêlée d’un sentiment tenace d’échec.
(p. 480, Chapitre 23, Partie 4).

Encore un gros livre qui m’a été offert par l’éditeur, via netgalley. Suis-je attirée par les gros livres, je pensais que non avec mon rythme de lecture ralenti, mais j’y reviens inlassablement depuis quelques temps. Pourtant, ce n’est pas un critère pour choisir mes livres. Celui-ci, je l’ai sollicité parce que, même si je n’ose pas toujours l’avouer, j’ai un faible pour les romans historiques et féministes. Et celui-là se passe en plus dans un lieu et à une époque que je connais peu, la seconde moitié du XVIIème siècle à Londres. C’est la période de l’interrègne, avec ses changements économiques, avec la peste aussi, puis le grand incendie de Londres quelques temps plus tard, des événements dont j’ignorais à peu près tout.
Rachel Kadish place dans ce contexte son personnage, Ester Velasquez, juive comme son prénom l’indique, d’origine portugaise comme son nom l’indique. Une jeune fille qui a beaucoup voyagé du fait des persécutions dans la péninsule ibérique, et beaucoup souffert aussi, dans un monde où la communauté juive a du mal à trouver sa place et a aussi du mal à définir son unité. Ester se retrouve donc, orpheline confiée aux bons soins d’un rabbin aveugle, parmi la petite communauté juive d’Angleterre, qui commence à espérer un peu plus de sérénité. Mais quelle peut être la place d’une jeune fille juive pas très belle, sans dot ni soutien familial, et en plus éduquée ? Comment réconcilier les aspirations d’une jeune fille qui sait lire la philosophie et qui apprend à penser par elle-même avec les attentes d’une communauté traditionaliste ? C’est tout le propos de Rachel Kadish, et c’est ce qu’elle nous fait découvrir en même temps qu’un duo d’universitaires improbable, la spécialiste non juive de l’histoire juive, anglaise, célibataire et à quelques mois de la retraite, accompagnée d’un doctorant américain et juif qui croit qu’il fera son chemin dans la vie et qui balaie d’un geste de la main ses petits démons personnels.
Tout cela pourrait être très bien, et ça commence d’ailleurs très bien, mais le parallèle entre les deux époques, qui encore une fois fait un peu trop recette éculée d’un atelier de « creative writting » d’il y a quelques années, ralentit la lecture sans, à mon avis, lui apporter grand chose. On a même certaines scènes qui sont décrites deux fois, l’une lorsque la future retraitée comprend tout à coup quelque chose, puis quand le fougueux doctorant fait la même démarche, sans que cette redite n’apporte quoi que ce soit de nouveau, ou bien quand l’un des deux découvre quelque chose que le lecteur sait déjà, puisque lui a lu tout cela en détail dans les pages consacrées à Ester.
Au bout de cent ou deux cents pages, on a fait le tour du propos de Rachel Kadish, pas facile d’être une femme au XVIIème siècle, pas facile d’avoir des aspirations autres que faire la lessive ou élever des enfants. Non pas facile, impossible probablement, d’où les tourments d’Ester Velasquez. Mais Rachel Kadish n’avait donc pas besoin de continuer à délayer tout cela sur quatre autres centaines de pages, elle n’a pas l’écriture qui fait aimer lire de belles phrases, de belles descriptions et qui ferait accepter sans problème une histoire qui mettrait longtemps à se déployer. Non, Rachel Kadish a une écriture efficace (de celle que l’on enseigne dans ces fameux ateliers « creative writting », on y revient), et son tort a été d’utiliser cette écriture efficace pour une histoire qui ne l’est pas. Résultat, on se lasse, on est pressé que ce livre se finisse (parce qu’il est suffisamment bien quand même pour qu’on n’ait pas envie de l’abandonner). J’ai passé des matinées entières à lire pour en avoir fini plus vite, c’est un peu paradoxal je sais, mais c’est ainsi.
Et parce que c’est si dur, si impossible d’être une femme de lettres au XVIIème siècle en Europe, pourquoi cette espèce de « happy ending » complètement improbable ? Cela m’a gâché ma lecture et m’a fait un peu regretter les efforts que j’avais faits pour aller jusqu’au bout avant de me lasser.
Alors si on expurge ce livre d’au moins la moitié et si on enlève une fin qui me paraît beaucoup trop rocambolesque, je pourrais recommander ce livre et dire que c’est une bonne lecture, mais il faudrait que ces deux conditions soient scrupuleusement remplies. C’est un livre que je ne déconseille pas, mais une petite mise en garde me semble s’imposer pour les futurs lecteurs.
  raton-liseur | Nov 7, 2020 |
When her parents die, Ester and her brother are taken in by an elderly rabbi who was blinded during the Portuguese inquisition. Settling in London, where the Restoration has made it safer to live openly as a Jew, the rabbi uses Ester as his scribe, when no one else can be found to do the job. Freed from the relentless women's work, Ester is given a world of ideas and a freedom to think. But a plague menaces London.

Helen is just weeks away from retirement when a former student finds a cache of papers in the 17th century home he and his wife are renovating. With the aid of an American graduate student, she begins the task of finding out what the papers reveal, racing against a team of rival scholars and her own diminishing health.

This is one of the few historical novels using the framework of someone from the present day researching a past event that worked for me. Usually, one of the timelines, usually the one set in the present day, is an annoying distraction, but this novel managed to make both timelines equally compelling, despite the earlier one involving itself with much more dramatic stakes. The only criticism I have of this novel is that the plots are wrapped up very quickly and much too tidily, with unlikely happy endings bestowed with abandon. There's also a final twist that was ridiculous, but given how well-written and well-researched the rest of the novel is, these are minor quibbles. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Sep 28, 2020 |
I read this because someone, somewhere, had recommended it as an “if you liked Possession” read-alike and I really liked Possession. While this didn’t have the same lushness of voice as Byatt’s books (but then, what does), this hit the spot in every other way, and I absolutely see where the recommendation came from. It even follows much the same narrative structure of including letters alongside the past and present settings.

One of the big themes in this book is, unsurprisingly, history. What is it? Who writes it? Why? Who has the right to speak for minorities? What gets written down and what doesn’t? Personal histories affect who the characters are and how they interact with others. Cultural histories reverberate through communities and across centuries. Masada is a motif, for instance. The Inquisition shapes how everyone in the 1600s portion lives, even two generations later.

And naturally, being me, I found this compelling, because those are big and interesting questions for me. I was also very drawn into the 17th century world, not only through Kadish’s descriptions of London and depictions of the Jewish community there, but also through Ester, the scribe, herself. There’s a lot that’s compelling in her shyness and passion for learning and refusing to be untrue to herself, and in seeing her formulate and defend her beliefs. Maybe it’s not perfectly historical at times—she sometimes feels like a 21st-century woman out of time—but it still makes for interesting reading and a cool window into the past.

(There’s also a strong thread of feminism throughout: women fighting against the roles assigned them, women becoming hard in the face of the patriarchy, women who’ve been passed over and ignored and sidelined and forgotten.)

The modern-day sections are a little less described in terms of setting, for obvious reasons, but they’re equally rich in character and depth of mind. The two academics, Helen and Aaron, are complicated, their emotional journeys as the story goes on are interesting and nuanced, and the people they interact with are also deeper than they appear. (There’s a lot in this book about face value and true selves and the fact that people are people, neither good nor bad.) I might not have connected to them as much as I did with Ester, because she is so much like me, but I still got drawn into watching them discover who Ester was, and got honestly tense during some of the later scenes of cut-throat academia.

It’s beautiful and complicated and thought-provoking, with that bittersweet feel you get in good literary fiction. Kadish tells a great story, fleshes out Restoration London from the docks to the Jewish Quarter to the theatres, makes good points, and uses historical fiction to ask, “what if?” What if there had been someone like Ester? How many other voices, how many histories, have been lost? It certainly started my year off with a bang.

Read if you liked: Possession, complex historical fiction, women being quietly awesome, Jewish fiction, grey-academia.
8.5/10

Contains: Anti-Semitic attitudes directed at the characters, and characters dealing with traumas caused by such attitudes (such as the Inquisition). Main character with Parkinson’s. Alcoholic parental figure. Some men who don’t see women as equals. Character death. Adultery. ( )
1 rösta NinjaMuse | Jul 25, 2020 |
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June 8, 1691
II Sivan of the Hebrew year 5451
Richmond, Surrey

Let me begin afresh. Perhaps, this time, to tell the
truth. For in the biting hush of ink on paper, where truth ought
raise its head and speak without fear, I have long lied.
I have naught to defend my actions. Yet though my heart feels no
remorse, my deeds would confess themselves to paper now, as the least
of tributes to him whom I once betrayed.
In this silenced house, quill and ink do not resist the press of my
hand, and paper does not flinch. Let these pages compass, at last, the
truth, though none read them.
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
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November 2, 2000
London

She sat at her desk.
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"An intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A.S. Byatt's Possession and Geraldine Brooks's People of the Book Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, anemigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history. As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents' scribe, the elusive"Aleph."Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must makein order to reconcile the life of the heart and mind"--

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