13 reviews

Jerusalem Maiden: A Novel
by Talia Carner

Published: 2011-05-31
Kindle Edition : 466 pages
52 members reading this now
17 clubs reading this now
11 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 13 of 13 members

“Talia Carner is a skillful and heartfelt storyteller who takes the reader on journey of the senses, into a world long forgotten.”
—Jennifer Lauck, author of Blackbird

“Exquisitely told, with details so vivid you can almost taste the food and hear the voices….A moving and utterly ...

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“Talia Carner is a skillful and heartfelt storyteller who takes the reader on journey of the senses, into a world long forgotten.”
—Jennifer Lauck, author of Blackbird

“Exquisitely told, with details so vivid you can almost taste the food and hear the voices….A moving and utterly captivating novel that I will be thinking about for a long, long time.”
—Tess Gerritsen, author of The Silent Girl

“Talia Carner’s story captivates at every level, heart and mind.”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

The poignant, colorful, and unforgettable story of a young woman in early 20th-century Jerusalem who must choose between her faith and her passion, Jerusalem Maiden heralds the arrival of a magnificent new literary voice, Talia Carner. In the bestselling vein of The Red Tent, The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns, Jerusalem Maiden brilliantly evokes the sights and sounds of the Middle East during the final days of the Ottoman Empire. Historical fiction and Bible lovers will be captivated by this thrilling tale of a young Jewish woman during a fascinating era, her inner struggle with breaking the Second Commandment, and her ultimate transcendence through self-discovery.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


Evil urge rules only over what the eyes behold.

-- Talmud, Sanhedrin

September 1911 / Tishrei 5672

Esther’s hand raced over the paper as if the colored pencils might be snatched from her, the quivering inside her wild, foreign, thrilling. All this time she hadn’t known that “blue” was actually seven distinct shades, each with its own name—azure, Prussian, cobalt, cerulean, sapphire, indigo, lapis. She pressed the waxy pencils on the paper, amazed by the emerging hues: the ornaments curving on the Armenian vase were lapis; the purplish contours of the Jerusalem mountains were shrouded by indigo evening clouds. In this stolen hour at Mademoiselle Thibaux’s dining-room table, she could draw without being scolded for committing the sin of idleness, God forbid. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

1. Esther does not desert her faith. She only rebels against the religious establishment. Have you experienced that gap?
2. Was Mlle. Thibaux an early feminist, or was she just a “back-street” mistress? Discuss her character and her life’s choices. Would she have been a different person had she been married?
3. Esther's sojourn in Paris is supposed to be a vacation. Discuss the point at which it turns to abandonment of her children. Also, is her settling in Paris a betrayal of the Holy Land?
4. Relationship between sisters can be complex. Discuss Esther and Hanna’s, starting in their childhood and how their different personalities and choices played a role.
5. Even in today’s open, free society, many women do not follow their hearts or their dreams to discover “The Primordial Light.” Why? Discuss what it takes for a woman to focus and to fully develop her talents.

Suggested by Members

Does attributing both the good and bad things that occur in life to G-d, remove accountability from the individual?
by meegan2000 (see profile) 05/17/12

The story behind the story: http://www.taliacarner.com/jerusalem_maiden_backstory.html
by AuthorTalia (see profile) 03/08/12

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from author Talia Carner:

JERUSALEM MAIDEN is a “what if" novel inspired by my grandmother’s untapped artistic genius. I invite you to join me on the journey with the feisty Esther, an extraordinary young woman as she challenges God. Question along with her whether it is ever possible to reconcile the yearning for individuality and self-fulfillment with society’s expectations or religious dictates.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Laurie S. (see profile) 07/06/18

by Mitzi B. (see profile) 04/26/18

by Elizabeth G. (see profile) 12/09/17

  "Love this author"by Betty T. (see profile) 01/03/16

This is the second book by Talia Carner we have read. (First was "Hotel Moscow" and Talia kindly Skyped in for it.) Everyone in our group loved the book. Good historical research. Good portrayal of how... (read more)

by Janet B. (see profile) 01/03/16

  "Jerusalem Maiden"by Laura G. (see profile) 12/07/12

It was an interesting love story, but slow moving in some parts

  "Loved the story!"by Martha F. (see profile) 07/27/12

Couldn't put it down, it was captivating !

  "Jerusalem Maiden: A Novel"by Angela F. (see profile) 07/21/12

An excellent book club read. Everyone enjoy the book and it provoke good discussion.

  "Great Story"by Laura B. (see profile) 07/21/12

Everyone in our group loved this book. We enjoyed the look inside another culture and another time. Led to some great discussions.

  "One of my favorite books ever"by Marti W. (see profile) 07/21/12

This is one of those books that I would find myself thinking about even when I wasn't reading it. The characters were very real and sympathetic. Although I was eager to finish it so I could find out what... (read more)

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