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The Turquoise Ring Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 3, 2005


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, May 3, 2005
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425202488
  • ASIN: B000C4SJL6
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,723,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Grace Tiffany is a professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama at Western Michigan University. She has taught Shakespeare at Fordham University, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Notre Dame, where she obtained her doctorate. She is also the author of My Father Had a Daughter and Will.

More About the Author

Grace Tiffany is a Shakespeare scholar who writes smart, entertaining fiction. Her newest novel, PAINT (Bagwyn, 2013), is based on the life of Emilia Lanier, a scandalous seventeenth-century poet thought by some to have been the mysterious Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets. PAINT is the third of a network of novels in which Tiffany explores Shakespeare's fraught relations with women, both at home and in the busy London theater world. The first of this group, MY FATHER HAD A DAUGHTER, won Booksense 76 listing from the independent booksellers of America. Tiffany's sole novel for teenagers, ARIEL, appeared on the 2006 American Library Association list of best novels for young adults. She has also written two nonfiction books about English Renaissance culture. Visit her "Shakespeare in Fiction and Fact" blog at: http://www.shakespearefiction.blogspot.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Author Grace Tiffany is a Renaissance scholar who in recent years has written a few excellent historical novels involving William Shakespeare, his life and work. She is a professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama at Western Michigan University and has taught Shakespeare at Fordham University, the University of New Orleans and the University of Notre Dame, where she obtained her doctorate. "The Turquoise Ring" is a retelling of Shakespeare's controversial play, "The Merchant of Venice, from the point of view of five women - most of them characters in the great Bard's original work. Given Dr. Tiffany's background and literary talents, I cannot think of a better person to tell this intriguing tale.

A young Spanish Jew from Toledo, Shiloh ben Gozan, flees Spain and the Inquisition in 1568, carrying his infant daughter, Jessica, with him. His beloved wife Leah was brutally tortured and murdered because she refused to renounce her Jewish faith before the Holy Brotherhood. The only possession Shiloh carries with him, besides some food and goat's milk for the baby, is a turquoise ring his wife had given him upon their betrothal. He travels to Venice to live openly as a Jew and to raise Jessica. However, conditions aren't much better for his people in this new home. They are forced to live in a small ghetto, and wear badges and other identifying symbols of their religion when they leave the restricted area. Although, Venice's economy and trade flourish with the influx of Jewish refugees from Spain, they are still forbidden to own land, and the only work available to them is through usury. In Venice Shiloh's precious turquoise ring is stolen and passes through many hands, effecting all who own it.

The narrative begins with Elizabeta Santa Leocadia de la Cerda's story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. W. Gortner VINE VOICE on June 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
(This review was first published in The Historical Novels Review, Issue 33, August 2005 ISSN: 1471-7492)

"The Merchant Of Venice" is arguably Shakespeare's most controversial and lyrical work. The 16th century tale of vengeance and religious intolerance in Venice among rival merchants was recently made into a film, and now comes to us reinvented as a novel titled The Turquoise Ring by Shakespearean scholar and author, Grace Tiffany ("My Father had a Daughter" and "Will.")

Told from the viewpoint of five women - three of whom are featured in the original play - this entertaining, and at times transcendent, novel employs the symbol of a turquoise ring made in Toledo to weave together the stories of the brave and doomed Rachel, her foolish daughter Jessica, the clever courtesan Nerrisa, the eccentric heiress Portia, and her clairvoyant Moorish servant, Xanthe. The middle three women will be familiar to Shakespeare aficionados, though such knowledge is not necessary in order to enjoy Tiffany's feminist construction of the Renaissance woman's plight, as well as her ode to the revered master playwright's talent for finely honed characterization and rambunctious dialogue. Though the novel does offer up the now-infamous revenge of the Jewish money lender Shylock (here, recast as Shiloh, who flees the Spanish Inquisition and martyrdom of his beloved wife, only to find himself captive to Venetian hypocrisy and the betrayal of his own daughter) it does not overshadow the plot - a refreshing and intelligent choice, which allows Tiffany to frame her overall narrative instead with a haunting tale of lost love and discerning exile. While Jessica, Nerrisa, and Portia give us a diverse, sometimes amusing, but always sympathetic depiction of how women sought survival in an often callous age, it is Rachel's poetic start and Xanthe's sage ending that truly elevate this daring, if uneven, interpretation of a classic stage tragedy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By book lover on May 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is amazing--surely the best of Grace Tiffany's three wonderful novels. She retells The Merchant of Venice in a way that is completely true to Shakespeare, yet also a new story with a new perspective--that of five women from the play, all connected in some way with a mysterious turquoise ring. The characters are rich and complex, and the dialogue is fluid; Tiffany's compassion and wit shine through, at times making me laugh out loud. The story is at once tragic and hopeful, and one that is very hard to put down once you've begun reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer L. Schillig on July 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
(Warning: there may be some spoilers in this review.)

It is a terrible pity that this book doesn't even seem to be in print any more. This deserves to be up there with the best of contemporary historical fiction.

Grace Tiffany is an English lit professor who's written several books of Shakespeare-themed fiction: My Father Had A Daughter, which features Shakespeare's daughter Judith as a main character, Will, a biographical novel on the Master himself, Ariel, a young adult re-imagining of The Tempest, and this, a reinterpretation of The Merchant of Venice, and my particular favorite of her books.

Professor Tiffany takes the smallest of moments from the original play and transforms them into whole backstories. The novel itself is inspired by Shylock's line in the play, "It was my turquoise (ring), I had it of Leah (Shylock's late wife) when I was a bachelor."

The novel is presented from the point of view of four women. First, there is Leah, Shylock's wife (in this version, Shylock's real name is Shiloh Ben Gozan). Leah was born Elizabeta de la Cerda in Spain at the time of the Inquisition; her mother was a converted Jew herself who, repenting her conversion and her marriage to a dissolute man, gave her daughter the secret Jewish name of Leah. Leah re-discovers her Jewish faith and renounces her old life to marry Shiloh ben Gozan, only to fall victim to the Inquisition. Unlike her mother, she will not betray herself even in the face of horrific torture, and dies in torture-induced childbirth.

Shiloh's daughter Jessica comes of age in Venice, where her father fled to in escaping the Inquisition.
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