- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (April 5, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781250078162
- ISBN-13: 978-1250078162
- ASIN: 1250078164
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 91 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem: A Novel Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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"Highly recommended for those who are fascinated by the history of Jerusalem and the Jews that lived and stayed there, as well as for those looking to learn more about the Spaniol community." ―Booklist (starred review)
"Fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez will find much to love in The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem. The narrative is lush and rife with scandalous secrets of a passionately opinionated family..." ―Jewish Journal
"Moving back and forth through time and points of view, Yishai-Levi paints a sympathetic and compelling portrait of the complex relationship between mother and daughter. Add to this the fascinating backdrop of Jerusalem during the first half of the 20th century and readers are gifted with a meticulously researched history of the city’s Sephardic community." ―Romantic Times
"Exquisitely rich in history and detail.... [A] poignant and intriguing book." ―Historical Novel Society
"Yishai-Levi’s novel stands out, and fortunately her writing stands up to scrutiny, too: She’s a journalist whose nose for character makes Beauty Queen a winner." ―LitHub
"I’m not aware of another work of fiction that paints such a vivid picture of the traditions, folklore and language of Jerusalem’s very significant Sephardic community... The novel also offers a compelling history of Jerusalem in the 20th century as experienced by the people most affected by its twists and turns." ―Jewish Weekly
"Yishai-Levi provides a compelling and meticulously researched historical backdrop to her story.... This romantic and engaging novel has been an Israeli bestseller for more than two years. This English translation will make new readers enamored with these women and men of Jerusalem." ―Jewish Book Council
"Reads to an American like a Sephardi version of Fiddler on the Roof.... If Yishai-Levi intended her novel to depict how personal hurts can intertwine with history to divide distinctive groups, then she’s done a fine job. But her bigger triumph perhaps lies in showing Israel’s unique challenge: to assemble its balkanized communities into a coherent whole." ―Haaretz
“The language, flavours, superstitions and prejudices of the Ermosa family are as compelling as the spiced, nuanced aromas of their cooking…. [A] fascinating exploration of ... the human spirit.” ―Jewish Renaissance (UK)
"The experiences of Jews in the Holy Land―first under the Turkish Empire, then under the British Mandate, and finally living in their own country―are well-integrated into the plot. Readers will learn Ladino expressions and gain insight into Ladino culture. All in all, this excellent novel has many lessons to teach." ―San Diego Jewish World
"The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a wonderful read―full of fascinating characters and spanning four generations of Israeli women. As their country struggles through its birth pangs, they struggle through wars, economic and social upheavals, and many losses―both physical and emotional. Compelling and satisfying." ―B.A. Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of The Muralist and The Art Forger
“Passion and the grand sweep of history permeate this dazzling, you-cannot-put-it-down novel about four generations of astonishing women--and the men in their family who just might be cursed by love. So rich and vibrant that every page seems to virtually breathe.” ―Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
"A breathtaking saga, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem will haunt and uplift you all at once, staying in your heart long after you've turned the last page." ―Nicole Dweck, bestselling author of The Debt of Tamar
"Yishai-Levi has captured both the unbroken thread running through generations of a Sephardi family and the intricacies of everyday life unspooling against the backdrop of Jerusalem. As sensuously infused with sights, sounds and smells as a Jerusalem market, and as finely detailed and colorful as a Levantine tapestry, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a thrilling exploration of a daughter coming to terms with a mother." ―Talia Carner, author of Hotel Moscow and Jerusalem Maiden
"Engrossing and original... The Sephardi version of Amos Oz's A Tale of Love and Darkness." ―Nana 10 (Israel)
"The events are permeated with powerful emotion… Only someone with abundant and generous heart could write such a book." ―Marmelada (Israel)
About the Author
SARIT YISHAI-LEVI is a renowned Israeli journalist, notable for being the first Israeli to interview Yasser Arafat, and has also interviewed major political and cultural figures like Muhammad Ali, Ariel Sharon, Leah Rubin, Hugh Hefner, and more. She is the author of four non-fiction books and her debut novel, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, which was a #1 bestseller and won the Publishers Association’s Gold and Platinum Prizes and the Steimatzky Prize for bestselling book of the year in Israel. She lives in Tel Aviv.
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For those with knowledge of, or interest in, Israel or Jewish history, the more enjoyable the novel.
The plot of the book, however, is more like a soap opera (a good soap opera) and not in the 5 Star category. Nevertheless, it definitely held my interest and kept me reading to find out the next episode. I liked the mix of characters from despicable to admirable and their trials and tribulations.
It was a good reading experience...but certainly not great literature.
I love Jerusalem, so the title, which seems incongruous, intrigued me. The story is well written, although the protagonist—and it's a little hard to tell who that person is because of all the bouncing in the story—is an absolutely horrible, totally narcissistic human being. I kept reading in hopes that she'd eventually outgrow her character flaws. The family's love for each other borders on the dysfunctional and enabling. I enjoyed the historical aspect of the story, however, and that saved the book for me.
It's a very good read. I highly recommend it.