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The Third Daughter: A Novel
by Talia Carner

Published: 2019-09-03
Paperback : 432 pages
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“In The Third Daughter, Talia Carner ably illuminates a little-known piece of history: the sex trafficking of young women from Russia to South America in the late 19th century. Thoroughly researched and vividly rendered, this is an important and unforgettable story of exploitation and ...

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Introduction

“In The Third Daughter, Talia Carner ably illuminates a little-known piece of history: the sex trafficking of young women from Russia to South America in the late 19th century. Thoroughly researched and vividly rendered, this is an important and unforgettable story of exploitation and empowerment that will leave you both shaken and inspired.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

From the author of Jerusalem Maiden comes a remarkable story, inspired by little-known true events, about the thousands of young Jewish women who were trafficked into prostitution at the turn of the 20th century, and whose subjugation helped build Buenos Aires.

The turn of the 20th century finds fourteen-year-old Batya in the Russian countryside, fleeing   with her family endless pogroms. Desperate, her father leaps at the opportunity to marry Batya to a worldly, wealthy stranger who can guarantee his daughter an easy life and passage to America.

Feeling like a princess in a fairytale, Batya leaves her old life behind as she is whisked away to a new world. But soon she discovers that she’s entered a waking nightmare. Her new “husband” does indeed bring her to America: Buenos Aires, a vibrant, growing city in which prostitution is not only legal but deeply embedded in the culture. And now Batya is one of thousands of women tricked and sold into a brothel.

As the years pass, Batya forms deep bonds with her “sisters” in the house as well as some men who are both kind and cruel. Through it all, she holds onto one dream: to bring her family to America, where they will be safe from the anti-Semitism that plagues Russia. Just as Batya is becoming a known tango dancer,  she gets an unexpected but dangerous opportunity—to help bring down the criminal network that has enslaved so many young women and has been instrumental in developing Buenos Aires into   a major metropolis.

A powerful story of finding courage in the face of danger, and hope in the face of despair, The Third Daughter brings to life a dark period of Jewish history and gives a voice to victims whose truth deserves to finally be told.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

Prologue

Russia, 1889

Blood pounded in Batya’s temples with the effort of pushing the cart. On the rutted road, the mud-crusted wooden wheels clanked with each turn, and the axles screeched in protest of the heavy load. The late autumn world was silent, indifferent, the fields drained of color, and Batya breathed in rhythm with the axles: Turn, clank, screech—gasp in. Turn, clank, screech—sigh out. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Discuss the role faith plays in the book for each group: Batya and her “sisters,” Batya’s family in Russia, the pimps and patrons of Zwi Migdal, the Jewish population of Buenos Aires. To what practices does each group adhere? What are limitations and/or hypocrisies of each group?

2. Nettie and Rochel, two of Batya's closest friends, go through dramatic transformations—in very different ways. Discuss life in the brothel, each of these women’s background, character and options. Why did each make the choices she made?

3. Batya's mother is constantly in Batya’s mind. How does Batya's perception of her mother change as she grows older? How does it change after her mother’s death? How did her mother’s presence influence Batya's decisions

4. In part 3 of the book, Batya finds herself choosing between Ulmann and Sergio. What are the risks and rewards of each? Whom did you think Batya should choose? Did you find yourself changing your mind at different points in the story?

5. In her hours of despair, Batya thinks—and attempts—suicide. What prevents or pulls her back? At what points do you think she would say the life she is living is worth the trauma she has suffered? At what points would she not? At the end, having reached the goal of saving her family, was it all worth it?

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