"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.
Ultimately it was a beautifully written story with characters and visions that will stay with me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.