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Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan
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April 2019: History > Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan

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message 1: by Roz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Roz K (irasobrietate) This book made me ache. It's a glimpse into the Jewish community of Ireland throughout the twentieth century, told through three different characters in different times. Ruth is a Lithuanian immigrant at the turn of the century, accidentally calling Cork, rather than New York, her home. Shem is a mid-century teenager who has lost his voice and is locked away in one of Ireland's multitude of homes for the mentally ill. And finally, Aisling, a twenty-first century London resident dating a Jewish man who eventually tells her he can't imagine marrying a gentile woman. Gradually, their stories are woven together, an intricate tapestry weaving the past, present, and future of Irish Jews into a single narrative. This book was deeply moving and I highly recommend it.

Definite trigger warning for antisemtism, antisemetic slurs, ableism, and Ireland's frankly horrifying mental health institutions in the 20th century. Shem's story line bears the brunt of these problems; a mute Jewish boy in a Catholic institution that still views mental illness as bedevilment is never going to be a pleasant reading experience.


message 2: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy | 8146 comments Gosh, it’s on my TBR, but I admit it doesn’t sound pleasant. The author, Ruth Gilligan is a professor where I did my masters. I encountered her a great deal, and have read other works by her. So it stayed on my list. Starting to feel like a bygone era. I will have to see if I get called to it. Nice review!


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Good review. I have not heard of this book. Amy, that you have encountered her and have read other words by her has me contemplating putting this on my TBR.


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