The Third Daughter a novel

by Talia Carner

Book, 2019



Call number




New York : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019


"In The Third Daughter, Talia Carner ably illuminates a little-known piece of history: the sex trafficking of young women from Russia to South America in the late 19th century. Thoroughly researched and vividly rendered, this is an important and unforgettable story of exploitation and empowerment that will leave you both shaken and inspired." --Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris The turn of the 20th century finds fourteen-year-old Batya in the Russian countryside, fleeing with her family endless pogroms. Desperate, her father leaps at the opportunity to marry Batya to a worldly, wealthy stranger who can guarantee his daughter an easy life and passage to America. Feeling like a princess in a fairytale, Batya leaves her old life behind as she is whisked away to a new world. But soon she discovers that she's entered a waking nightmare. Her new "husband" does indeed bring her to America: Buenos Aires, a vibrant, growing city in which prostitution is not only legal but deeply embedded in the culture. And now Batya is one of thousands of women tricked and sold into a brothel. As the years pass, Batya forms deep bonds with her "sisters" in the house as well as some men who are both kind and cruel. Through it all, she holds onto one dream: to bring her family to America, where they will be safe from the anti-Semitism that plagues Russia. Just as Batya is becoming a known tango dancer,  she gets an unexpected but dangerous opportunity--to help bring down the criminal network that has enslaved so many young women and has been instrumental in developing Buenos Aires into   a major metropolis. A powerful story of finding courage in the face of danger, and hope in the face of despair, The Third Daughter brings to life a dark period of Jewish history and gives a voice to victims whose truth deserves to finally be told.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member mel927
I loved this book! I predict it will be a bestseller. Wonderfully written historical fiction about a period in time unknown to me before I read this book. Rio de Janero in the 1890's was a hotbed for sex slavery. Most of the girls were Jewish and stolen from Eastern Europe. Just as these people
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were being ripped from their homes by pogroms, insidious men were promising these young women marriage and wealth in the America's only to enslave them into a life of prostitution. This is the story of Batya and her fight to free herself from this life.
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LibraryThing member Kathyk22
I loved this book. It is the compelling story of Batya, a young jewish girl sold into slavery in the late 1800s . After the pogroms in Russia forced Batya and her family from their home, her parents, in desperation, allowed her to leave with a wealthy stranger, who promised her marriage and a life
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of luxury in America. Instead, she was repeatedly raped and beaten, and sent to Argentina, where she was to become a sex slave. Her love for her family and the hope of giving them a better life gave her the courage to survive. This story was based on true events, in fact 150.000 girls were lured to Argentina by the pimp's union, Zwi Migdal, and sold into prostitution. This unconscionable situation was allowed to continue for 70 years in Argentina, where prostitution was legal. The book also credits Baron Maurice de Hirsch for his generous philanthropy, which funded the Jewish Colonization Association, for the repatriation and education of Russian Jews. Thank you, Talia Carner, for bringing to life these stories which should not be forgotten.
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LibraryThing member MomMom46
With thanks to LibraryThing for being able to read and review this horrifying story of sexual slavery in 1889 in Argentina. It is a heartbreaking story based on the real events involving over 150,000 very young Jewish women who were deceived and lured from the shtetl’s of Eastern Europe.
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author notes” that Yiddish storyteller Sholem Aleichem hinted about this outrage in his short story The Man From Buenos Aires,which was published in the same collection featuring Tevye,the Dairyman from Fiddler on the Roof.The father in The Third Daughter is also a dairyman fleeing a pogrom in rural Russia.One daughter has married a young man sent to a Gulag work camp and she follows him to Siberia. The next daughter marries a Christian man and is exiled from her family.When the mother is faced with sending Batya,her third daughter away she must first dream of her deceased grandmother for an answer. A tribute to Sholem Aleichem or a bad idea? A little of both I feel.
Ultimately it was a beautifully written story with characters and visions that will stay with me.
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LibraryThing member pdebolt
This is a horrifying fictionalized look into the history of Buenos Aires when a legal union of pimps lured over 200,000 girls mainly from eastern Europe into a life of prostitution under the guise of taking them to America for purposes of marriage in the late 19th century. Unbelievably, it went on
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for 70 years.

Batya's family is struggling to survive when the pogroms begin against the Jews in Russia, and they are forced to leave their home with virtually nothing. Their struggles intensify until they meet a wealthy man who declares he wants to marry a virtuous Jewish girl like Batya and take her to America despite the fact that she is only 14 years old. Her family reluctantly agrees, and thus her hellish existence in a brothel begins. The nod to Fiddler on the Roof is incidental and perhaps unnecessary to this story.

My thanks to LibraryThing and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book.
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LibraryThing member Gingersnap000
The Third Daughter is a powerful Historical Fiction novel about an era in Argentina's history which should never be forgotten. A group of Jewish pimps, Zwi Migdal, kidnap young Jewish Eastern European girls to work as prostitutes in the brothels of Buenos Aires where prostitution is legal. These
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men and some women make money off the backs of these innocent girls who are now forced into a life of slavery.

The story's protagonist, Batya, has been taken from her life of poverty in Russia to be married to a wealthy man who promises her parents she will enjoy the riches of America. The reader's heart will be broken and angry will be forthcoming. You will be unable to put this book down to see if Batya will be rescued and reunited with her family. The book is an intense read but well worth the information of this era.
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LibraryThing member JGoto
This novel about the human trafficking of Eastern European Jewish girls to brothels in Argentina is an engaging read. I would have given it a higher rating but for the very weak beginning chapters. As the author states in her notes at the beginning of the book, she was influenced by writer Sholem
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Aleichem. Even knowing that, I was quite surprised that she lifted characters and their situations directly from the movie Fiddler on the Roof. The protagonist's (Batya) father is a Jewish dairyman living in shtetl in Russia. A dreamer, married to a grumbling, practical woman, has a favorite saying "As the good book says..." As if this is not familiar enough for movie fans, one of Batya's older sisters marries an activist university student and follows him into exile in Siberia, while her other sister marries a non-Jew and is considered "dead" by her father. Even the scene in which the family is banished from the village and the "dead" daughter looks tearfully on is copied from the movie. Frankly, if I hadn't felt obligated to review the book, I would have stopped reading at a very early point because it seemed as if the author was too lazy to write her own plot.
The book, however, improves once Batya leaves home. The story follows the fourteen year old as she is tricked into believing that she will marry a wealthy man who will bring her to America, when he is really bringing her to a brothel and a life of prostitution in Buenos Aires. The plot is fast moving, and the characters believable. The story is based on a horrifying part of history that I was unfamiliar with and it was interesting to me.
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LibraryThing member HandelmanLibraryTINR
“In The Third Daughter, Talia Carner ably illuminates a little-known piece of history: the sex trafficking of young women from Russia to South America in the late 19th century. Thoroughly researched and vividly rendered, this is an important and unforgettable story of exploitation and empowerment
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that will leave you both shaken and inspired.”
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LibraryThing member Mishker
Batya and her family flee their hometown in the Russian countryside, the only survivors of another pogrom. After pushing their belongings through the countryside and living off the kindness of others, a wealthy foreign Jewish man, Reb Moskowitz enters the family's life and takes an interest in 14
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year-old Batya. Moskowitz offers Batya's father money for her betrothal to him and promises her plenty of food, a nice home and a fortune in America. However, Batya quickly learns that Moskowitz is not the good man he portrays. Batya is sold into prostitution in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After being abused, locked up, tortured and starved, Batya comes to terms with her predicament and focuses on survival. She becomes a sought out girl in her brothel and is trusted by Moskowitz. Batya's hopes are focused on bringing her family over from Russia and a mysterious new client may help Batya escape slavery and saver her family.
I absolutely adore historical fiction that is able to open my eyes to a period of history that I knew nothing about. I was certainly not aware of the very long time span that prostitution was legal in Argentina and fueled by the Zwi Migdal, a ring of Jewish men and women who kidnapped young girls and widows for their own profit. The writing deftly portrays the horror as well as the hope in Batya's story. It was obvious that the author delved into the research of this hidden history, from the way Batya was lured away from her family, to the conditions on her journey to Argentina and how she was treated in the brothel to the rhythms, dances and food in Buenos Aires, everything was reflective of the experience of the women and the time period. I was very interested in how involved the Zwi Migdal was in Argentinian politics and culture and just how hard it was to bring them down. I was amazed at Batya's bravery helping to provide evidence against Moskowitz in kidnapping women and especially the real woman, Raquel Liberman who risked it all to save other women from her fate.
This book was received for free in return for and honest review.
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LibraryThing member beckyhaase
Batya, the third daughter in a family of Jews forced out of their home in one of Russia’s endless pogroms, is married off to an apparently wealthy and kind American businessman. Unfortunately, his “America” is Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Batya is forced
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into a life as a prostitute. Many young, innocent European girls fleeing hard times found themselves suffering Batya’s plight in lawless Argentina of the early 1900’s.
Carner’s well researched and well written book follows Batya as she is betrayed and then sold into a form of slavery. Carner tells the stories and lives of Batya and the other residents of the brothel with great feeling, empathy and realism.
When Batya is offered the possibility of helping to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, it is at great personal peril.
Carner tells the tale of a little know part of Jewish and Argentine history. Her research is impeccable and her storytelling is impactful. This will be a good book for groups to discuss.
5 of 5 stars
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LibraryThing member sunqueen
Excellent read about a very unknown piece of history. Well written and intense drama.
LibraryThing member jhoaglin
I learned something I knew nothing about in reading this novel. Set first in Russia in 1889, the story tells of the young Jewish women who were taken, under very false promises, from their families in Russia, and then forced into the sex slave/prostitute role in brothels in South America, in this
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book, Buenos Aires. Batya is only 14 years old when the seemingly wealthy Moskowitz approached her father about wanting to marry Batya, when she turned 16 or course. Batya's family had been fleeing the czar's pogroms, and were seeking a safe place to settle, often going with little food, and working in humiliating and demeaning ways to try to earn a pittance. They became convinced that Moskowitz offers a way to find a better life for Batya, and possibly for them to follow, once she is settled in Buenos Aires. They agree to send Batya with Moscowitz, with the understanding that they will wait to marry until Batya turns 16; in the meantime she will be under the guardianship of his sister in Buenos Aires. What transpires for Batya afterward is one horror after another.
Several years in Batya's life in Buenos Aires pass, and even with the shame and loneliness that are her constant companions, there are some good things in her life. She lives with a house of other young girls who are in the same circumstances, and forms some close friendships; she has enough food to eat, and pretty dresses to wear; she is kept somewhat safe from the poverty and starvation she sees elsewhere in the city; and she has a few favorites among the men who become her regular customers.
As the author tells Batya's story, she also sheds light on other aspects of life in Buenos Aires during this time, especially among the Jewish community. And in her notes both before and after the book, the author states that over 150,000 young girls from Eastern Europe were forced into prostitution in South America, during the late 19th and early 20th century. She also recounts some of the in-depth research she undertook in writing this book. I am adding this one to my list of favorites for this year.
I want to thank LibraryThing, the author, and William Morrow Publishers for the copy of this book I was given.
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Original publication date



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