Rashi's Daughters - Book I: Joheved

by Maggie Anton

Book, 2005



Call number




New York, NY Plume 2005


The first novel in a dramatic trilogy set in eleventh-century France about the lives and loves of three daughters of the great Talmud scholar In 1068, the scholar Salomon ben Isaac returns home to Troyes, France, to take over the family winemaking business and embark on a path that will indelibly influence the Jewish world, writing the first Talmud commentary, and secretly teaching Talmud to his daughters. Joheved, the eldest of his three girls, finds her mind and spirit awakened by religious study, but, knowing the risk, she must keep her passion for learning and prayer hidden. When she becomes betrothed to Meir ben Samuel, she is forced to choose between marital happiness and being true to her love of the Talmud. Rich in period detail and drama, Joheved is a must read for fans of Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member JanaRose1
Joheved, the daughter of a Jewish scholar finds herself caught between her parents when she desires to learn Talmud. While her father is ecstatic to teach her, his mother believes that a learned woman will never make an appropriate marriage match. Despite her mother's objections, Joheved and her
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sister Miriam begins learning Torah. When local merchants help her father set up a Yeshiva (school), Joheved becomes betrothed to Meir ben Samuel.

I thought this was a very interesting and exciting book. Let me say that I am an atheist. I did not think the book was preachy. I really saw it more as a cultural book rather than a religious book. I have already purchased the other 2 books in the series and am looking forward to reading them.
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LibraryThing member maggieanton
This is the first novel in the historical trilogy imagining the lives of the daughters of legendary Talmudic scholar Salomon ben Isaac, otherwise known as Rashi. The story opens shortly after the young scholar has left his studies at the academy in Mayence and returned to Troyes to run the family
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winemaking business. This novel focuses on Joheved, his eldest, who learns the art and business of winemaking, and secretly (with her mother’s disapproval) studies Talmud with her father as he starts his own yeshiva. Dozens of Talmud discussions, about everything from the Sabbath to sex, skillfully engage the reader and expose a thousand years of Jewish thinking in the process. Readers experience the rhythm of these Jewish women’s lives in this extensively researched novel as Joheved begins leading the women’s services at synagogue, negotiates with government officials and merchants on behalf of the family business, is betrothed to and then marries a promising young yeshiva student. "Rashi’s Daughters" brings to life an intimate portrait of medieval French Jewish family life, superstitions, traditions and scholarship, as well as a compelling romance that challenges all the learning and love that Joheved can muster. All is resolved, however, in an ending that satisfies.
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LibraryThing member melissavenable
This was a great find on a "free-take one" table at work. The first time I picked it up I couldn't get into it, but a few months later I tried again and was hooked. French history through the lives of smart, strong women (sisters) - making wine and studying the Talmud with their father. Through
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this catalog I found out there is another in the series focused on Rashi's sister, Miriam... will add to list.
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LibraryThing member franoscar
This was a nice readable account of life of Jews in France in the 11th century, especially the women. I don't know if it is very realistic, in terms of the interpersonal relationships (one might feel those are a bit modernized).
LibraryThing member sgamzon
The best historical fiction can offer: great story line, accuracy of facts and great midrash.
LibraryThing member lindawwilson
Rings false, because of the "modern context" in medieval times. Might engage a younger audience, but I could not finish the book. I like historical fiction to feel real, as with Zoe Oldenbourg's or Sharon Kay Penman's works
LibraryThing member LaBibliophille
This is the first book in the trilogy Rashi’s Daughters, by Maggie Anton. The second book is Miriam, and the third, Rachel, is yet to be published. Rashi was an 11th Century French Talmud scholar. He wrote the first Talmud commentary, and is still studied and quoted today. Having no sons, he
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taught Talmud to his daughters. This was then, and in some circles now, considered a revolutionary idea.

Joheved was the eldest of three daughters of Rashi (an acronym for his real name, Rabbi Salomon ben Isaac) and his wife Rivka. They lived in Troyes, France. With the help of the Jewish community of Troyes, Rashi established a yeshiva in Troyes. Students, all boys, came from towns near and far to study with Rashi. Meir ben Samuel is the son of a local, wealthy landowner. He is a student at the same yeshiva in Mayence at which Rashi had studied. He and Joheved become betrothed, and Meir comes to study at Rashi’s yeshiva.

The place and the time where these events happen are thoroughly researched. It is interesting to read about Jewish life in medieval France. However, the story itself lacks any real interest for me. There is no real conflict or surprise here. The characters are dull and lack dimension.

I had higher hopes for Joheved. And I’m still looking for a great book to read!
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LibraryThing member drinkingtea
I am looking forward to the next book in this series.
LibraryThing member crazeedi73
I learned so much Jewish tradition that I never knew from this book.
LibraryThing member JanicsEblen
This is such a good book! Well written, compelling story. I learned a good deal about life for the Jewish population in France at the time of the story. I heartily recommend this book
LibraryThing member talenoree
Fascinating glimpse into the eleventh century both in France and in the Judaic quarter. Highly recommend this series!
LibraryThing member Rdra1962
Historical fiction based on research of the daughter of an 11th century Jewish scholar. Very interesting, and to my surprise, full of sex!
LibraryThing member shazjhb
Interesting. Always wanted to read about Rashi and so much of what is said from Talmud is recognizable. Against the background of 1070 this makes interesting reading.
LibraryThing member fglass
Superb picture of the middle ages in Troyes, France and of Judaism under Rashi and within his family!

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