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The Weight of Ink

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  27,964 ratings  ·  3,632 reviews

"A gifted writer, astonishingly adept at nuance, narration, and the politics of passion."—Toni Morrison

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, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to
Paperback, 575 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Mariner Books (first published June 1st 2017)
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Sam "Clean" as in language or gratuitous violence or sex? Yes this book is clean.
In the concrete sense, I spilled a couple drops of coffee (not covfee) o…more
"Clean" as in language or gratuitous violence or sex? Yes this book is clean.
In the concrete sense, I spilled a couple drops of coffee (not covfee) on mine, but when I bought it it was spotless.(less)
Rachel hi! I just happened to see this... so glad your book club is getting into the spirit with food! There's a suggested menu on my website: www.rachelkadi…morehi! I just happened to see this... so glad your book club is getting into the spirit with food! There's a suggested menu on my website: Go to the book clubs page and scroll down. Hope you find something there!
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  27,964 ratings  ·  3,632 reviews

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Elyse  Walters

Manuscripts had laid undisturbed more than 300 years. A discovery had been made.

Helen Watt, British historian is 64 years of age with failing health. She used a cane to walk. She has Parkinson’s disease. Helen’s strength -knowledge & passion for history and Jewish studies stand out - her ruthless commitment to her work reflect who she is - but her illness is quietly just ‘being’. Helen operates much bigger than her disease.
She is not Jewish,
This book is a journey – through time (1600’s, mid-1900’s and early 2000) and space (Amsterdam, Israel, and London) whose only requirement is that we give ourselves over to the story being told and flow with it.

I loved this book. The writing is exceptional and although it deals with history and philosophy primarily, it is not in any way dull or boring. The characters are extraordinarily well developed and contain such a treasure trove of human thoughts and feelings on so many different levels, t
Unlimited stars!!! WOW. SWOON. Fanning self. Holy Mother of Books. Absolutely awestruck by the pure MAGNIFICENCE of this BRILLIANT mellifluous poetic historically rich masterpiece... Unadulterated GENIUS. Whoa. AAA! I'm sure I could not string enough accolades together to do justice to Kadish's work.

I had such a hard time thinking of where to begin this review because Weight of Ink is too incredible, really, to describe, at least by a non-poet like myself. Nothing I could say could ever do just
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Thank heavens for book club selections that force me to read books I’ve been meaning to read and keep skipping!

A dense historical fiction, The Weight of Ink tackles a female scribe for a rabbi in 17th century London. The Jews have just been allowed back after 400 years of banishment from England. The rabbi, a survivor of the Spanish Inquisition, has come from Amsterdam to help educate the English Jews. He is forced to use an unusually educated young woman as his scribe when her brother runs off
Violet wells
The Weight of Ink clones AS Byatt's Possession. Academics on the trail of a hidden narrative footprinted in a slow reveal of discovered manuscripts. Firstly, I ought to point out I wasn't a massive fan of Possession. I enjoyed its mischievous elaboration of standard romance fiction but found most of the characters flimsy. This too in many ways is standard romance fiction within an ambitious framework but with less, if any, mischief.

It begins with our two academics, Helen, a sour ageing spinster
Melissa Crytzer Fry
This is one of those books that, when you close its covers upon reading the final pages, you know you’ve read something special. It is also the kind of book that, days later, sinks even deeper into your subconscious and makes you realize just how impressive a literary accomplishment it is.

I was immediately intrigued by the dual-period style and the book jacket’s promise of a story about “two women of remarkable intellect.”

I should note, up front, that rarely in dual-period novels do I find both
June 8, 1691 11 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
I know Possession. I’ve read Possession. You, madam, are no Possession.

Do not name drop unless you know what you’re doing, book marketers. In this case, you set the bar far too high and honestly never convinced me I was at the right bar to begin with. Never mind the truly, madly, deeply overwritten metaphors that absolutely blossom from nearly every page. The historical part seemed interesting, but I can just as easily read, you know, an actual history on the topic, so you’ve gotta have somethin
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've really struggled with this book. Hidden in all the layers of words that I had to plough through lay a most beautiful story. It is for this story that I went on reading, it touched my heart.
It seems to me that the author couldn't choose between non-fiction and a novel which weakened both. I'm hesitating between 3 and 4 stars, but because I can see the enormous effort I choose 4.
RoseMary Achey
I had a very difficult time with this highly rated novel. The writing was very good at times, but other times I felt it would benefit from a strong edit. If you are looking for a light, quick read-this certainly is not the book. Unfortunately, I didn't love any of the characters in either the contemporary or the historical story. Lots of readers loved this one, I just was not one. ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh! Oh! Oh!

Do you love the written word? Are you a patsy for any historical site and love to read history books for fun? Are you part philosopher? Does your birth position within the era, family order, vocational direction and almost any other category you can define which could describe the intersection where aptitude and desire toward work or vocation cross- is it all wrong? If you answer yes to most of these questions, take on this one. It is super, super long. About 3 books length. And not a
Stephen P
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephen by: Proustitute (on hiatus)
I don’t need plot. Most of the time I choose books that don’t have such a thing or that I spend time performing rituals and rites in hope that one won’t appear. So what is it with this book that it is about plot, wonderfully plotted, yet I cannot leave it for long or if I do I can’t wait to return.

What I think, a hazy belief, is that Kadish has skimmed along the line where story abuts literature. A thin porous line it can be. Often, a work where story is so predominant it is just that; a nice or
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Weight of Ink
Rachel Kadish

MY RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
PUBLISHER Highbridge
PUBLISHED June 6, 2017
NARRATED Corrie James

An complex but emotionally rewarding story of two women centuries apart who sacrificed much by choosing a passion of the mind over the heart.

Two women of remarkable intellect are the subject of this monumental and award winning novel set in London in the 1660’s and early 21st-century. Helen Watt, is an ailing historian with the love of Jewish history, right on the verge of re
4.5 rounded up - In ‘The Weight of Ink,’ author Rachel Kadish explores themes that would be important to many readers. How do we live an authentic life while also exploring and paying homage to the life of the mind? What if the life of the mind is your passion? For two women in this book, Ester Velasques, and Helen Watt, such is the case. Ester comes of age in the late 1650s. She and her brother, Isaac, are orphans that Rabbi HaCoen Mendes take with him to London to set up a learning center for ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margaret by: My Goodreads friend Stephen P's review sealed the deal for me.

Rachel Kadish’s The Weight of Ink is simply my favorite read of 2017. Its basic structure consists of two alternating narratives. The first, taking place in London in the late seventeenth century, contain the writings of Ester Velasquez, a young Sephardic Jew who was born in Portugal, grew up Amsterdam, and finally is brought to London as a young girl, along with her brother Isaac, by a distinguished but blind rabbi, after their parents die. Rabbi HaCoen Mendes had hoped that Isaac would ser
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly brilliant. It is the kind of book that lingers in your mind - for days, weeks, maybe forever. I am not ready to begin another book because I am still a part of this fine piece of fiction. One reviewer wrote that the book borders on sentimental. Perhaps, but for me that doesn't detract from its brilliance.

There are many thoughts Kadish expresses beautifully, but the one that is the heart of this story is, in my opinion, the following." Yes. It was indeed all of our history. No people's thre
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-favorites
[4.5 stars]I am dazed, bleary eyed from reading this - today I could do nothing but read. I am partially in 17th century London, still. I wish there was more, but I am also satiated. The people in this novel came alive for me - Ester and Helen and Aaron. I will miss them. I love the importance placed on learning and thinking - and relationships. Unlike many novels that go back and forth between two time periods, this one flowed beautifully. Remarkable.
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read and reviewed this book over two years ago. I just reread it, something I rarely do but felt was necessary in order to adequately lead the discussion for a book club. My love of the book was increased the second time around, and I had been totally blown away by it two years ago. There were so many nuances I had forgotten or had missed on the first reading. It remains one of my all-time favorite books.

Dual storylines tell the stories of Ester in 17C London and Helen in the 20C, also in Lond
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2017 National Jewish Book Award. Kadish brings to life a community of Jewish refugees that escaped the Portugal Inquisitors, and settled in London after spending time in Amsterdam in the 17th century. She has done this through a discovery of historical documents in a London mansion undergoing renovations. The trove of documents introduces Helen Watt, an elderly British expert in Jewish history and her American research assistant, Aaron Levy.

In translating the documents written in Portuguese, Heb
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not that I'm one to talk, but this book could stand to lose a few pounds... ...more
Lewis Weinstein
This is an absolutely marvelous book, although not perfect.

Let's start with the marvelous. The two related story lines (1600's and modern day) are each fascinating and well conceived. The characters in each are always in a state of tense challenge, as they think through the problems they face. The reader is continually challenged as well, with philosophical and religious ideas that don't often grace the pages of fiction, including Spinoza's view of God and Nature.

But all of those good things t
Jan Rice
There's a book with the subtitle "What's the right thing to do" (Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel), and that, I'm thinking, is what The Weight of Ink is about. What is the right thing to do?

The story moves back and forth between the seventeenth century and the earlier 2000s. In the seventeenth, the focus is on Ester, a young Jewish woman of Sephardic descent who has fallen on hard times. Her circumstances in Amsterdam had allowed her to pursue her love of learning far bey
Jennifer Blankfein
The Weight Of Ink tells the story of Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who becomes a scribe for a blind rabbi in London in the 1600s right before the plague. At the same time we learn about Helen Watt, a close to retiring British historian who is working on translations of some 17th century documents signed by scribe “Aleph”. Even though these women lived-in different centuries, both were strong and determined to pursue their interests and fight to be heard, and choosing a life to sati ...more
Kathryn Langlois
I received this book as a free Goodreads giveaway and had no expectations. Fast-forward eight days and I feel as though the author reached into my soul and twisted until I believed I was living in the pages of her book. I don't know if that makes sense, but after the initial few chapters I found that I related to, empathized, and cared about the book's three main characters- Aaron, Helen and Ester so much more than is typical for me.

The unfolding of the story is captivating and the author does
Dale Harcombe
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half stars
Helen Watt has been summoned to view a cache of seventeenth century documents discovered under the staircase in a large old house during renovations. With the help of Aaron Levy, and American graduate student, Helen begins work to piece together the identity of the scribe of these precious historical documents and find out who the elusive Aleph is. Sadly for them they don’t have unlimited time to uncover all the documents secrets as others have also been called in. So it is
The Weight of Ink is a beautiful and intricate tale of two women living almost four hundred years apart. Ester Velasquez fled Portugal to Amsterdam at the time of the Inquisition and then emigrated to London in the mid-1660's when she is given the opportunity to scribe for a Jewish rabbi. Helen Watt is an aging historian and professor of Hebraic History at a university in London at the first part of the twenty-first century and close to retirement.

Professor Watt is summoned by a former student
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Nothing of the building’s exterior – not even the stone walls, with their once-giant wingspan – had prepared him for this. The staircase was opulence written in wood. The broad treads ascended between dark carved panels featuring roses and vines and abundant fruit baskets; gazing down from high walls, their faces full of sad, sweet equanimity, were more carved angels. And halfway up the stairs, two arched windows let in a white light so blinding and tremulous, Aaron could swear it had weight. W ...more

This long and complex novel was so much my kind of book; possibly one of the best novels I have ever read. It demands quite a bit of the reader as well as an interest in philosophy. It is one of those stories about intelligent women who just cannot stay in the roles expected of her by society and religion. Set in two time periods, it features a connection across centuries between two specific women. The setting is London in the early 21st century and in the 1600s.

Helen Watt is in her 60s, slow
Scott  Hitchcock

I'm really torn on the rating on this book. The historical look into the suffering of the Jewish people across decades and countries was well researched and very interesting. However the individual stories weren't always as compelling and in particular some of the love stories were pretty boring, IMO.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
This is a book that on the surface appears to be something I'd love: historians finding a trove of archival documents that suggest deep philosophical understanding by a Jewish female scribe in the 1660s (very rare for the time), then flipping back and forth between the life of the scribe and the historians' inquiry into the documents. My three-star rating reflects the disappointment of not enjoying this as much as I thought I would.

Two major quibbles. First, I felt I didn't know enough about th
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I often begin writing when something is bothering me. Years ago, I was thinking about Virginia Woolf’s question: what if Shakespeare had had an equally talented sister?
Woolf’s answer: She died without writing a word.
What, I wondered, would it take for a woman of that era, with that kind of capacious intelligence, not to die without writing a word?
For one thing, she’d have to be a genius at breaki

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