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on August 28, 2012
In this tribute to the Jewish immigrant experience, Jane Isenberg weaves a mystery spanning generations and the cities of New York, Seattle and Skagway, Alaska. With humor and delightful dialogue the story unfolds and the tension builds as the mystery of immigrant Aliza Rudinsk's life and death are revealed. The history of Seattle - the fire, the plague, its streets and neighborhoods, and its Jewish population is a fascinating read. After finishing this book I feel like I want to continue to read more of the history of this place and time.
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on August 20, 2012
What a unique and compelling prologue that drew me right in. Then, I was equally pulled in to the poignant portrait of a 19th century young Jewish woman immigrating to a new life in America and the very believable portrait - one many can identify with - of the contemporary Jewish American woman who sets out to solve her murder. Both women are set in the fascinating historical context of the Seattle of their respective times. Each is a strong and different personality; each has her own hopes and goals; each has a unique voice. One is deeply moving, almost poetic; the other is modern, alternating between warm and, at times, almost harsh. Nevertheless, the two women who can never meet are bound with ties of commonality. This is a wonderful read, the kind you curl up on a sofa and get lost in. I'm looking for more from Isenberg.
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on October 6, 2012
It is 1965, and newly widowed Rachel Mazursky hears of the discovery of human bones unearthed in the Seattle Underground by the same earthquake that dislodged the concrete block that fell on her husband's head and killed him. If it hadn't been for the well preserved diary dated from the 1880s found with the bones Rachel would not have paid attention. But the diary is reported to be in Yiddish, and this is a language Rachel, a Jew, knows well. She volunteers to translate it. And so, the reader, with the skillful assistance of Ms. Isenberg, time travels not only back to 1965 with the issues, prejudices, and quirkiness some of us remember well, but to the Ukraine in the late 1880s, then to New York, Seattle and Alaska via young Aliza Rudinsk's telling of the perils and trials of a journey that will ultimately end in her murder. The hope and heartbreak of each woman is penned lovingly and unflinchingly by Ms. Isenberg and captured this reader from the very start. The Bones and the Book is one of those beautifully written novels that will haunt you long after you put it down. It will make you think, break your heart, too, and finally give you hope. Awards should seek this book out. Buy it, read it, tell your friends.
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on November 7, 2012
In THE BONES AND THE BOOK, Jane Isenberg moves in a very different direction from her entertaining and clever Bel Barett Menopausal Detective Series to write a riveting, intelligent historical-mystery standalone.

Isenberg's protagonist, Rachel Mazursky, finds herself both grieving and at loose ends when her husband is killed in the big 1965 Seattle earthquake, after her only child has gone off to college on the east coast. After the quake, when the bones of a young woman are found in the Seattle Underground, along with a diary written in Yiddish, Rachel volunteers to translate the book.

The contents are startling and disturbing - the story of a young Jewish woman who had emigrated from Europe a half-century before, only to find that life away from her family, in the rough, Gold-Rush Era Pacific Northwest, made some terrible demands on unprotected women. Rachel gets hooked on the notes, and decides to try to find out who had murdered the young immigrant and disposed of her body and diary under the streets of Seattle.

The stories of the two Jewish women in Seattle, so many years apart, each needing to deal with major societal stresses, move right along, step by step. The author carries her readers through an impressive ability to maintain separate and consistent voices for the two women throughout the narrative, all the way to a conclusion both realistic and satisfying. Eschewing didacticism and without disturbing the flow of the story, Isenberg focuses her lens through women's issues to leave readers with a great deal of historical information about Seattle and Jewish life in Europe and America. Highly recommended!
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on February 3, 2013
An enjoyable/interesting/learning book even if you don't understand Yiddish (I don't). The solving of a puzzle (finding bones and a book) and figuring out who the individual was, and the piecing all the clues was fascinating. The background story just added a bit to this .... once again letting us know how important human nature is.
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on July 12, 2014
I have had the pleasure of reading many of Jane Isenberg's cosy's and enjoying them. This was a cut above and thoroughly enjoyable. Not only to it provide insight into the immigration and settlement of Jews in Washington, but gave a clear picture of the further settlement of Alaska via Washington. Since the basic novel was set in the 1960's, I was also reminded just how much life has changed for women since them. Further, the struggle of immigrants today reflects many of the struggles of the mass immigration of the 1890-1920s. I highly recommend this book.
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on April 2, 2013
I tried to stay with it and finish this book but it is one of a very few that I finally lost interest in and set aside, then promptly forgot. Someone else might find it interesting but I found myself not relating to or caring about the characters or the plot.
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on October 21, 2012
Jane Isenberg creates two worlds to enter, one of which is the consciousness of a brave but struggling Jewish immigrant woman 100 years ago, whose adventures range from New York through Seattle to the Alaska gold rush. I won't give away the plot. Enough to say that for two nights after I started The Bones and the Book, I had to force myself to go to bed. On the third night I gave up and kept reading until I finished it, feeling satisfied both emotionally and intellectually.
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on August 19, 2013
Having lived in Seattle for many years, I liked reading about the familiar settings as well as the history - some I knew, some I didn't. I liked how Ms Isenberg suggests the more things change the more they stay the same - example: the importance of "seamstresses" in Seattle.

The mystery of the Bones is somewhat "gentle", in spite of the macabre circumstances surrounding many of the characters. That said, I found it somewhat hard to put down which is really all that matters at the end of the day.
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on January 19, 2013
I must admit, for full disclosure, the I was slightly biased in reviewing this book as I have lived for my entire life in Seattle, the locale of most of this book. My grandparents emigrated from "the old country" as did the heroine of the book and lived through many of the events described in some portions of the plot. In fact I was amazed when I read the author's acknowledgements, that I knew a few of those mentioned as sources although I had never before heard of the author,Jane Isenberg. .
I did not give the book five stars because I thought some of the actions of the main character Aliza, as well as the plotting, were forced to fit the author's purposes. From what I know of the Jewish culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not ony in Seattle but elsewhere, it is hard to align Aliza's actions with her upbringing and community. But the part of the story that takes place in the contemporary period rings true and I could defintely believe this part. I had a special interest in the subject as I am involved in Washington State Jewish history but I believe the appeal of the book goes far beyond that narrow field.
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