Melissa Crytzer Fry's Reviews > The Weight of Ink

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
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it was amazing

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 stories equally compelling. I generally feel one is stronger and often favor the historical storyline, but in this novel, they both carried tremendous weight and were done so well!

I suppose the beautiful cover drew me to this book as well, and the title with the word “ink” in it was part of the attraction – as I was an avid letter writer when I was younger (with pen-pals from across the world). I assumed – and was correct – that there would be epistolary elements to the book as well … another thing I love. But once wrapped inside the pages of this book, I was gripped by the incredible characters, full of depth and flaws, wants and desires, facing obstacles and celebrating triumphs.

And did I mention the writing? The writing is gorgeous, poetic, lyrical and so adept at reaching inside the characters' heads and hearts! As my friend Jaline’s review
said better than I have, here: "The characters are extraordinarily well developed and contain such a treasure trove of human thoughts and feelings on so many different levels, that their very integrity led me to a deeper understanding of each one’s inner nature."

It is a long book (560 pages with some very small print in some parts) and also includes a great deal of historical background, period language, and religious + philosophical themes. BUT these elements happen to be the VERY reasons I loved this book so much.

1) Length – With the publishing industry’s typical 320-page standards, I often feel that many books feel rushed and underdeveloped emotionally. (Admittedly, some slim books still portray that emotional authenticity, but many do not). This book takes its time with a slow unspooling of history and character and flashback. And it’s all the richer for it. At the end, you will feel you know Helen Watt, Aaron Levy and Ester Velasquez.
2) Historical background/period language/– The book jacket reveals that this book focuses on Jewish documents (and, therefore one can assume, Jewish faith). I grew up in an Evangelical protestant area of rural Pennsylvania, so I came to this book with very little understanding of Judaism, Jewish history, or culture. I knew not a single person of Jewish faith growing up, and when I attended a Methodist college, still lacked exposure to this religion. That was NOT a detraction to reading this story; it was quite the opposite. This book taught me just how deep my ignorance was regarding the historic and continued persecution of those of Jewish faith (not just during WWII). I am humbled for the learning opportunity.
3) Religion – If you are at all interested in religion, and maybe even if you’re not – how and why people have faith and why others do not, or why others have an alternative kind of faith – this is an excellent book that poses so many fabulous questions.
4) Philosophy – I will be honest. I absolutely abhorred the philosophy classes I took as part of a liberal arts curriculum in undergrad. And yet, I truly enjoyed the philosophical components of this book (of which there are many, and they are – as you might expect - written in realistic, stilted philosophical language). But they were so integral to this story, they fascinated me.

I was hooked by this book immediately, so when I saw an incredible e-book deal, I bought it in addition to the hardcopy my husband bought me for Christmas. That means I am able to share some of the highlights from my Kindle on my Goodreads review. I hope you’ll enjoy them. And if you can’t see them, let me know and I will paste some into the body here.

This really is a story of intellect in so many ways: the literary way in which it’s written; the exposure to current academia (which includes some fun being poked at the rigors of academic research); and the intellect of the characters, themselves.

It is not a ‘light’ read. But it is satisfying and sustaining. It’s the kind of story you want to commit to – and by that, I mean, don’t rush it. Take your time. Savor the incredible literary language and metaphors, get to know the characters and their secrets, enjoy the slow unraveling of an interesting mystery rooted in historically accurate details, enjoy the new historical insight you may gain.

If you enjoy dual past-present storylines, literary fiction, Shakespearean references, unapologetic women, and a mystery hidden within, read this book! If you love the written word and others who love the written word, read this book! I am still awed by the author’s ability to create prickly and, by many standards, unlikeable characters that, by the end of the book, you literally will be crying with/for.
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Reading Progress

April 7, 2017 – Shelved
April 7, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
February 19, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-47 of 47 (47 new)

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message 1: by Barbara (new)

Barbara can't wait to read your review!!


Jaline So glad you loved this, Melissa! I look forward to your review, too! 😊


Arlene Kay Such a wonderful in depth review Melissa. I am now commited to reading this book. Thank-you.


Melissa Crytzer Fry Arlene wrote: "Such a wonderful in depth review Melissa. I am now commited to reading this book. Thank-you." Thank you, Arlene. I look forward to hearing what you think! I don't generally write such long reviews, but this book was so exceptional to me, I felt it merited a bit more depth and conversation! I hope you LOVE it.


Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader Beautiful review, Melissa, of what sounds like an absolute must-read!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader wrote: "Beautiful review, Melissa, of what sounds like an absolute must-read!" Thank you, Jennifer. I can't wait to hear what you think if you read it!


Elyse Walters Melissa --I was hanging onto every word you wrote with excitement -envy- (lol) - and admiration.
1- I love your review! (thank you for not telling me too many details either)...and many thanks for the private message letting me know you had read it. Like you --I have the physical book --and then I bought the $1.99 Kindle special. (I was shocked when I saw that) ---
but unlike you-- I still haven't read it--'even though' it was my top 'wish' book when it first came out.
Not sure how life & reading other things got
in the way....but I admit -its not the first time I'm guilty.
I also pre-paid for "The Tattooist of Auschwitz....(the Audiobook in that case) --'months' ago --many many months agon --before Netgalley had the book to request....
I decided to stay with my choice -and never requested a copy from Netgalley---
my mistake --because --I was sent 2 delays in the release of the book....
which it finally came to me yesterday! And now of course I have a ton of books to read by the end of March--with surgery in April ....

2-but............I will read this book THIS year--and like you said--its not a book to rush--
I don't want to rush it.............I want to take it all in as you did ---when very relaxed and no other book-due date pulling at me.....

THANKS again...........I'm hesitate to read any other reviews. I'll read Jaline's---but then 'no more' until 'after' I've read it.
Thanks for your wonderful review.
You've set me up great to have my turn at it!!!!!!!!!
xoxoxo


Melissa Crytzer Fry Elyse - thank you for your kinds words! I cannot wait to hear your thoughts on this book (and, as an aside, I REALLY want to read The Tattooist of Auschwitz also). I know you WILL get to this book this year, and I'm happy that you'll consciously do it when you have time to focus on it and savor it!

I rarely put much of any description of the plot in my book reviews for the VERY reason you mention -- I don't want to ruin ANY part of the story for future readers! This one you want to go into with surprise, I think!

PS I'm still not sure how you manage to read/juggle SO MANY books! I'm in awe. And GOOD LUCK with surgery.


message 9: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike I savoured all the elements of this review, Melissa. Wonderfully concocted. I shall look forward to tracking this one down.


Melissa Crytzer Fry Mike -Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you'll give this a whirl. I see, from your profile, it may not be your standard fare, but I love that you're willing to try new books/genres!!!


message 11: by Tammy (new) - added it

Tammy Thanks, Melissa! This has been on my shelf for a long time. Remarkable review!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Thank you Tammy. I cannot wait to hear what you think! Why am I not surprised it's been on your shelf :-)?


message 13: by Tammy (new) - added it

Tammy Melissa wrote: "Thank you Tammy. I cannot wait to hear what you think! Why am I not surprised it's been on your shelf :-)?"

Lol!


Elyse Walters I read too many hours during the night... like from 2am to 5 or 5am...
Then ... another 2 hours when I get up while doing cardio and stay offline. Lol.
Plus ... I have to be home most days because we run our Airbnb so I’m reading in between cleaning the guestroom. And that’s how I read so much
Walks & pool soaks and sauna are Audiobooks ... lol
This review is an inspiration to me ...
And now I know I can ALWAYS read your review before hand.
Thanks. Xo


message 15: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen Wonderful review Melissa! Adding!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Karen❄️ wrote: "Wonderful review Melissa! Adding!" Yay! (Lovely new avatar, by the way -- didn't recognize you at first!)


Melissa Crytzer Fry Elyse wrote: "I read too many hours during the night... like from 2am to 5 or 5am...
Then ... another 2 hours when I get up while doing cardio and stay offline. Lol.
Plus ... I have to be home most days because..."
I'm still allowed to be impressed, right? Ha ha. That is a TON of reading no matter how you slice it! You go, girl!


Jaline Beautifully written review, Melissa! I love how you broke out some of the keynotes that stood out for you. Excellent job - and I loved reading it! 😊


Melissa Crytzer Fry Jaline- Hope you don't mind I quoted you. Your explanation was fabulous!!!


Jaline Melissa wrote: "Jaline- Hope you don't mind I quoted you. Your explanation was fabulous!!!"

I am honoured that you quoted me, Melissa! - and your entire review is fabulous!!! 😊


message 21: by Christina (new)

Christina Carson I don't think I can resist this one, after that resounding review. Thank you for taking the time and effort.


message 22: by Jacquelin (new)

Jacquelin Another fantastic review, Melissa! Your reviews are often as interesting as the book. :) Thank you for being so loving and detailed with your comments. I've come to rely on them to select my next read.


Melissa Crytzer Fry Thanks, Christina. Your words mean so much; when an author creates something like this, I feel compelled to share!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Jackie- You're too kind. That's what I love about Goodreads -- relying on others to help us with our next picks!


message 25: by Cheri (new) - added it

Cheri Fabulous review, Melissa, I've wondered about this one since I first saw it. I'd added it, but since then have questioned that, so glad to read your review and know you loved it!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Thanks, Cheri. If you do decide to read it, I can't wait to hear your thoughts. Curious -- were you able to see the passages I highlighted? That will give you a sense for the literary style of the book. I am still thinking about this one (and am in awe of the amount of research the author must have done).


message 27: by Cheri (new) - added it

Cheri Melissa, I can't see the passages you highlighted! Having a sense of the literary style of this would help, I must admit.


Melissa Crytzer Fry Thanks, Cheri. Hmm - on my page, there is a clickable icon under my star-rating that says "Highlights" and I see that, sometimes, it is also available under the "comments" section. If you still can't find it, I may paste some quotes into the review! Thanks, again!


message 29: by Angela M (new) - added it

Angela M Fabulous review , Melissa. I have to read this soon .


Elyse Walters Melissa... it’s soooooo GOOD!!!!!
I love Aaron & Helen’s relationship..
I even like when Aaron writes Marisa at the Kibbutz in Israel and shares the history of the Jews in England - Amsterdam- the Rabbi - his hope that maybe this project might help inspire his dissertation.

I do know ‘some’ of this history ( the Jewish theology I know about- the sacredness with the documents) ...

It’s so easy to imagine this story - and although I still have tons more to read I totally agree with you already about equally enjoying both timelines.

I even like the little Navy blue Volkswagen. I use to have one. Lol.
xoxo


message 31: by Nancy from NJ (new)

Katz Nancy from NJ I am going to be reading this book shortly for one of my book groups. I look forward to it as much as Melissa and Elyse did.


Melissa Crytzer Fry Elyse - oh YAY. I'm so glad you're loving this book! I knew you would. I am STILL thinking about it. When you're done, we'll have to go offline for a chat, because I want to DISCUSS this book with someone else!!! :-)

PS This will make you laugh. This morning, I was like, "Who, on Goodreads, with her magical powers, liked my review recently?" -- because I got a lot MORE likes. And that only happens when you, Angela, Cheri or Jaline like my reviews. I consider each of you the "Oprahs" of book reviews. You comment, and suddenly I get lots of traffic and visibility to my reviews. Ha ha. Thanks, lady!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Nancy - I cannot wait to hear what you think! I hope your book group loves it as much as I did (MY book group likes fluffy fiction, so I read this one on my own. I seem to be the only literary fiction lover out here in the AZ boonies)!


Elyse Walters Melissa wrote: "Elyse - oh YAY. I'm so glad you're loving this book! I knew you would. I am STILL thinking about it. When you're done, we'll have to go offline for a chat, because I want to DISCUSS this book with ..."

You are making me laugh............. love it! love you! ---
ok-- the writing (which is sooooooooooo great) --spins in circles a little -- which is fine --but did you think so too? -- I'm not sure if I'm saying it right -- because its not as if I think its repetitive --I like the going over topics (it sinks in better) -- its just it doesn't move straight forward in either stories....
which I like. so--Ms. writing expert?? explain? lol
That Aaron is a kick!!! --his letters to Marisa (and hers 'back') --so so mean about the Ice Queen -- lol --
under all of it --I LOVE them ALL --
By the Way -- the author has the culture of Kibbutz life down solid!!!! I know --I lived on one for a year.

Well--my break is over --we WILL chat -- I have to be on a conference call -work related with my husband later --so I have a little more time to read now --so I am going off line again -- I just came back to 'check in'............
and thrilled Nancy will join our chat group on this book too!!!
xoxoxo
LOVE IT...................best book I've read all year!!!


Elyse Walters My gosh... I’m needing to talk about this ‘while’ reading it. Lol

The rage at times -didn’t you feel it? deeply? The frustration of all our main characters? Between Aaron & Helen? And each with their own self?

My own desire to visit Israel again is bubbling inside me.
It’s been years since cutting my cucumbers & tomatoes on my breakfast plate..
and to climb the Masada again - walk the caves in Jerusalem- etc. and see the all the many changes since I’ve been - this book has raised my desires.

Aaron - Helen - Ester : so many layers to these 3 main characters ...I love reading about them.
But even others are interesting....
... Mary & her mother Catherine - Constantina-

I can imagine that some of the Jewish laws - with the Torah - the holiness & appropriate we handle it -was new for you?


Elyse Walters Well thanks for letting me chatter away -
Wonderful book - so glad I had read your review and push this book in ‘now’. 💕


message 37: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa I am reading, actual listening this one now as well! It’s like Helen an Aaron are sitting at my dining room table. OMG! Loving it! Not often that a new literary book like this one comes along. Melissa, your review was perfect.


Elyse Walters Amazing right? I’m at the gym
doing cardio -/ and geeeee things changed FAST at the start of part 3. I feel sad. :(


Elyse Walters Glad we have some buddy readers here Lisa. Xo


Melissa Crytzer Fry Elyse wrote: "Amazing right? I’m at the gym
doing cardio -/ and geeeee things changed FAST at the start of part 3. I feel sad. :("
Yes, Elyse. This one is a roller coaster. So glad you pushed it ahead of others. I sent you a message with all kinds of thoughts/comments.


Melissa Crytzer Fry Lisa wrote: "I am reading, actual listening this one now as well! It’s like Helen an Aaron are sitting at my dining room table. OMG! Loving it! Not often that a new literary book like this one comes along. Meli..."
How nice to know, Lisa, that the audio is every bit as enticing. Yes, it was like I KNEW These people. Thanks for the kind comments about my review!


Jo-Ann Breitstein Melissa, I loved this book and totally agree that both the historical and current sections were equally terrific. Your review is wonderful!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Jo-Ann -- Thank you. This book is going down as one of my all-time favorites!


Elyse Walters WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG................ I'm drained!! I LOVED IT!!!!!!!! you must have been dying when I asked you "why did Marisa stop writing Aaron"? ways back? lol

and several surprises!!! -- but the ending -- I have so much to think about --its rocked my 'chi' comfort level.........
I've wanted to eat SUGAR! --my insides started shaking over 'regret' - but we can talk about that later --
Thanks............amazing book!!! xoxox


Melissa Crytzer Fry You're DONE? How is that "not rushing it"? Ha ha. I took a month, savoring this book, taking notes, etc. OK - more "offline" in a bit. LOTS to discuss!


Ms.pegasus Yes, I was really struck by how the author was able to integrate the two timelines in a way that made both of them equally dramatic. Even now, they cohere in my mind as a single story that pushes the gap of 300 years into the background.
As you say, this was not a "light" read; at the same time it was not arduous. The elements of a literary mystery, my empathy for the characters, and the trajectories of self-awareness held my interest. Nice review which expresses the emotional intensity that drove you as you read the book.


Melissa Crytzer Fry Ms.pegasus wrote: "Yes, I was really struck by how the author was able to integrate the two timelines in a way that made both of them equally dramatic. Even now, they cohere in my mind as a single story that pushes t..."
Yes, such a good point about the two timelines really cohering as one. I think that's incredibly difficult to do in a dual-period novel. I'm off to read your review!


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