Rashi's Daughters: Joheved
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Rashi's Daughters: Joheved (Rashi’s Daughters #1)

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  2,148 ratings  ·  229 reviews
Rashi, one of the greatest Jewish scholars who ever lived, had no sons, only three daughters. Much has been written about Rashi and his grandsons, the Tosafot, but almost nothing of his daughters. Legend has it that they were learned in a time when women were forbidden to study the sacred texts. Rashi's Daughters tells the story of these forgotten women.
Paperback, 386 pages
Published June 15th 2005 by Banot Press
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Kara

I wanted to like this book, I really did.

Anton seeks to bring to life a place, time and people who have been overlooked. She obviously did a lot of research, and boy does it show! The book is crammed full of information on things like 11th century agriculture, French politics, and Jewish law, and tries to faithfully render to the most minute detail (moss used for toilet paper! how to prune grape vines! a demon for every cough and bad thought! ) what it would have been like to grow up the daught...more
Lewis Weinstein
A very sensitive story of a far from ordinary Jewish father and daughter. For those who want to understand why Jews study Talmud, this is a great place to begin.
Elizabeth
From a historical perspective, this book (as well as Anton's second book in this series) is fascinating. Anton has obviously done a great deal of research, and she has focused on making the world of medieval French Judaism come to life. However, there are two aspects that I want to focus on that detract significantly from this book, which had so much potential. One aspect is Anton's exposition, which is often very heavy-handed. I would have loved to have gotten lost in the world that Anton descr...more
Ann
This book about the eldest daughter of the great Talmudic sage Rashi had such great reviews, I expected more. It was enjoyable and had interesting, even fascinating, information on medieval Jewish life; but it was, I thought, clumsily written. And what was with the sex scenes? I mean, I like a good reasonably explicit sex scene as much as the next person, and I'm sure that medieval Jewish folks liked their sex, but those scenes felt really out of place, as though they were dropped in just for th...more
Julia
Didn't like this one as much as I thought I would. I thought the style of writing was kind of annoying. I can't quite put my finger on it. I'll probably read the rest of the series though. It was entertaining enough. Interesting to learn about Jewish traditions as well.

Okay so an update. I finished this one and I just don't think I'll read the other's in the series.

The summary of the plot on the back of the book makes you think it is going to be all about how Joheved is going to fight for her ri...more
Ellen
I'd say 3.5
I enjoyed the book but there was a bit too much graphic Talmudic sex. Also, I was constantly noticing the religious practices that are different from today's and wondering if they really were different in those days or if the author just isn't aware of normative Orthodox practice. For instance, mixed dancing at a wedding, men sitting around chatting with each other while waiting for their wives at the mikva and later discussing who was there, women attending weekday Shacharit services...more
Cheri
This was an odd book. The author clearly has researched the family and the era very well, but the end result isn't really a novel. There was no narrative arc – just lots of info about daily life (some things, like the making of parchment, appeared to be thrown in simply because the author had learned about it). Joheved didn’t seem like a real person (nor did Rashi, nor anyone else) and her motivation to study Torah like the men was never made clear – and the repercussions of her doing so seemed...more
Maayan K
I really liked the idea of this book. Unfortunately, it's deplorably excecuted and the narrative totaly fails.

For starters, each character has an identical personality - the same one as the ploddingly matter-of-fact narrator. Each incosequential conflict is promptly resolved with predicatble regularity. As for an actual plot to draw the story forward, there is none. The prose is brittle and earnest - it's just, eugh, awkward to read this. The only parts that actually work narratively are the se...more
Feathzzz
Wtf!?!? Jews like to drink? This book was sure an interesting surprise to me that way. Hmmmm I grew up with an alcoholic father but imagine growing up with a Jewish wine-making father in medieval France. That's Rashi's daughters for you. The central theme here seems to be education for women...

It was touchy subject at the time with many interpretations of what was appropriate and what was not. In the beginning of the book Joheved is already fluent in Hebrew and is able to read, study, and trans...more
Katie
This is as much a book about medieval Jewish scholarship as it is about Rashi's family; his family members seem to circle the Talmud, supporting characters to its central theme(s).

This is not to say that it wasn't incredibly fascinating to read regardless! I learned so much about Ashkenazi Jewry as well as general life in France during the High Middle Ages. Some of the rituals and tradtions presented I actually remembered from reading a more contemporary story (The Ritual Bath) - it's amazing th...more
Dana
Set in Medieval France in the 1000s, this book is a fiction love story about Rashi's eldest daughter, who the author calls Joheved. Salomen ben Isaac, known as Rashi, is the most famous Jewish commentator of the Bible and Talmud. I usually find romance novels rather dull because they tend to all tell the same story, but this book successfully combines wonderful historical fiction about Rashi and the Jewish religion in France in the middle ages and the lifestyle of the people along with the roman...more
Judy
Jewish history and traditions have always fascinated me; so this book was right up my alley. It is about Salomon Ben Isaac, now known as Rashi. He lived about 1068 in France. He was a scholar who left his studies to take over the family winemaking business. Rashi was the first scholar to write a commentary on the Talmud, and is the recognized authority on the Talmud. During the period when he lived the Jews and Christians were at peace, each community living mostly to themselves except for some...more
Rachel
Usually I'm not a huge historical fiction person. I often find my my purist tendencies get in the way of my enjoyment of historical fiction. Rashi's Daughters came highly recommended to me by a close friend from my synagogue. It shared a lot of similarities, at least in voice, to Anita Diamant's "The Red Tent". It had engaging relationships between the characters and even though it's from Joheved's perspective, for the most part, others in the story are well rounded.

One thing I feel that engagi...more
Jon-Erik
I don't read a lot of fiction books because they often fail to cast their spell on me. There are some books that are just impossible to read, and others that are pleasant reading but I can almost tell you exactly why the author did everything they did. This falls into the latter category. This book is more or less a formula copy of the Red Tent sent in a less heroic, darker, and more obscure era of Jewish history.

Diamant at least cast her spell. I felt like I knew Dinah. A quick check of the pr...more
Pmandell
Both of these books (Rashi's Daughters, Book I & Book II) are entertaining and thought provoking. Throughout both books are many quotations from the Torah and various comments on the quotations, including Rashi's. I found this helpful as I have often wondered about the source of those studied today. Another aspect of these books that I enjoyed was the explanation of many of the superstitions that we find in our current cultures. Although I had to stop sometimes to figure out which parts of t...more
Ilana
By far, it is one of the best historical novels I've read in a long time. Actually, it is the kind of story that I started in the morning and finished a couple of hours later in the night, due to the author's fascinating art of writing. As a reader, you are part not only of the life story of the oldest Rashi's daughter, Joheved, but also of the Medieval Jewish France and of the daily life of Rashi himself. The merit of the story is that you can go far beyond the circumstances of the reality and...more
Beth
This book was an amazing read. I learned so much, which is what I love about good historical fiction. There were so many times in this book that I thought to myself, so that's why we do that (in terms of Jewish traditions). I did find myself wondering as I was reading if a non-Jewish reader would have difficulty understanding it. The author is a female Talmud scholar herself, which I find so impressive, and it lends credence to the series. I can't wait to read the next book. In fact, I think I m...more
Tammy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stacey
I absolutely loved this book. So much so that I could not put it down and went straight into reading the next in the series. I will certainly read all 3. I have prior knowledge of orthodox Judaism and Torah/Talmud that made it easier for me to understand the lingo (however there is a glossary). The author does a fantastic job of developing the characters, so much so that I felt I could actually see them and understand their feelings. I greatly look forward to the next book, I am already several...more
Lucy

This is a tricky book to rate.

The writing is actually not bad, the problem is entirely with the plot and its consequences on the characters.

'Joheved' is a book about (extremely young) women having sex, getting pregnant, having abortions or dying in child birth, with a bit of Jewish wisdom in the middle.

A lot of what I read of the Jewish wisdom, was completely ridiculous. I wonder whether Jews really believe in all that stuff. If they do, I can only see three reactions when you read this book:

1....more
Autumn
3.5 stars. I enjoyed this book. I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough to run right out and find the next two books in the series, but I'll probably pick them up sometime. It's set in 11th century France, in a Jewish community. I liked how much I learned about the Jewish culture/faith. I certainly know more about Jewish marital intimacy than I did a few days ago! It's discussed rather a lot, but most of it is not explicit. Very interesting.
Erin Currie
I really liked this book. Compelling characters and a story that was familiar yet exotic. I enjoyed learning while reading (hurray for historical fiction!) about Judaism, everyday medieval life, and the role of Jews in medieval society.
I enjoyed that the heroine was a strong, independent female that found ways to be herself in a society and time where she had a prescribed life.
Dara
A book which somehow drifts from the bodice-ripping of historical romance to lofty excursions into the minutiae of Talmudic scholarship and back again with a great deal skill and grace. The characters are engaging and the world of medieval French Jewry that is revealed through the progress of their lives is fascinating and clearly well researched. An only slightly guilty pleasure.
Lee
First volume of a family saga trilogy -- story is well written. The thoroughly researched details about daily life in France during the Middle Ages and Torah/Talmud are fascinating. I wish I knew some of this detail about women's role in/rights to Jewish learning some time ago.
Lisaleh
Oct 17, 2008 Lisaleh rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who enjoy historical jewish fiction
Very interesting and enjoyable read. I liked reading about the superstitions and customs of the Jewish community during this period. Seemed well researched. Will read the rest of the series.
Hermien
I thoroughly enjoyed this historical novel set in a Jewish community in France between 1060-1080.
Sheryl Bronkesh
Sparked my interest in Rashi and Talmud. Engaging story coupled with historic detail.
Tzippy
2.5 stars, maybe? It wasn't bad, and I liked the characters of Joheved and Meir, but this book suffered from a common problem in historical fiction where the author has done so much research and doesn't know what to do with it, so they end up just adding in historical facts from left field. For example, the scene where Rashi randomly jumps into a river, and then there's a paragraph exposition about how Christians at that time didn't swim, but Jews did (because it's an obligation to teach your ch...more
Bunnyjadwiga
This is a spoiler: no pogroms occur on stage in this book.

This is another spoiler: there's a lot of discussion of Jewish (Talmudic) law.

Anton has re-created a time and a place methodically, and created women who could have existed in that time, in that place, and in those roles. Yes, they debate Talmud. Yes, they worry about folklore. They are brillant women, the daughters of a brilliant scholar; and the men they are interested in (who have other personal problems) are also brilliant. But they a...more
Cayleigh
This is the story about Joheved, a young Jewish girl living in France with her father, Rashi, who is a Jewish teacher/scholar. She is the oldest of three sisters and has a desire to learn from the Torah, which her dad obliges in, this in an age when women were not to be learned. I found this book interesting mainly because I've never read a book that was from a Jewish character's point of view and don't really know that much about the Jewish religion to begin with. They had to deal with some, in...more
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Maggie Anton was born Margaret Antonofsky in Los Angeles, California. Raised in a secular, socialist household, she reached adulthood with little knowledge of her Jewish religion. All that changed when David Parkhurst, who was to become her husband, entered her life, and they both discovered Judaism as adults. That was the start of a lifetime of Jewish education, synagogue involvement, and ritual...more
More about Maggie Anton...
Rashi's Daughters, Book II: Miriam: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France Rashi's Daughters, Book III: Rachel: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France Apprentice: A Novel of Love, the Talmud, and Sorcery (Rav Hisda's Daughter, #1) Rashi's Daughter, Secret Scholar Enchantress: A Novel of Rav Hisda's Daughter

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