Nancy McKibben's Reviews > A Guide for the Perplexed

A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn
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really liked it
bookshelves: suspense, literary-fiction
Recommended for: readers who like suspense and moral questions

A Guide for the Perplexed
By Dara Horn

Great title, and not what I expected. Judith feels dull and ordinary next to her spectacular younger sister Josie Ashkenazi, a beautiful, vibrant over-the-top genius who has invented a computer program for keeping memories that has made her beloved as well as wealthy. Josie is married to a fellow genius and has a child - has everything, as far as her sister can tell. Judith craves Josie’s life and when her sister is abducted in Egypt, Judith is presented with the opportunity to commandeer it.

Interwoven with Josie and Judith’s story is that of professor Solomon Schlecter, who in 1894 is searching for ancient manuscripts in Egypt, especially those of Moses Maimonides, a medieval physician, writer, and philosopher, whose story we also learn.

This is, surprisingly, is a suspense novel, albeit it an unusual one, so I won’t give away any plot points. But the reader can find a lot to enjoy besides the suspense, mainly the ideas: moral responsibility; the power of words; brother and sister relationships; spirituality, particularly Jewish spirituality; the power and the obligation of forgiveness; the persistence and the deception of memory. It’s also fun to find the parallels between and within the three narratives.

The author creates flawed characters who keep our sympathies even when they are behaving badly - and Judith behaves very badly. But she surprises us, as does each character, and that is one of the pleasures of reading this novel - the surprises are real, but believable. I quite liked this book.

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Reading Progress

February 16, 2014 – Started Reading
February 17, 2014 – Finished Reading
April 22, 2014 – Shelved
April 22, 2014 – Shelved as: suspense
April 22, 2014 – Shelved as: literary-fiction

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