$10.14 instead of $14.99 


Reviews of Jerusalem Maiden




(HarperCollins, June 2011)





& Exquisitely told, with details so vivid you can almost taste the food and hear the voices, Jerusalem Maiden is a coming-of-age story set in a time and place that few of us know.  Talia Carner has written a moving and utterly captivating novel that I will be thinking about for a long, long time.”

                   -- Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Girl


& "As bold and fragile as its main character, JERUSALEM MAIDEN is at heart a story of revolution. Esther Kaminsky risks everything to ask questions about womanhood and faith that even in the asking constitute sin for an obedient girl. In Esther’s time, risking ‘everything’ was literal. Debut author Talia Carner’s story captivates at every level, heart and mind.”


                    -- Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Second Nature


& “Esther Kaminsky is a true heroine -- talented, passionate, opinionated -- and I wanted her to succeed on every page of this novel.  But for me the truly marvellous thing about Jerusalem Maiden is how deeply Talia Carner is able to evoke Esther’s faith and the complexity of the choices she faces.  A beautiful and timely novel.”

                    -- Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street and Eva Moves the Furniture


& “Talia Carner’s Jerusalem Maiden is an exquisitely explosive journey back to the final days of the Ottoman Empire in Jerusalem. She creates a portrait of a brilliant young artist trapped in the body and soul of an Orthodox Jewish girl. Carner’s descriptions of life in Palestine and Paris convey the bleakness of thwarted ambition, the narrow mindset of fundamentalism, and the struggle between self-fulfillment and community expectation. It immerses us in a provocative and astonishingly realized world filled with evil spirits, arranged marriages, prayer, poverty, and the pain of breaking free.”


                    -- Michelle Cameron, author of The Fruit of Her Hands


&  “Jerusalem Maiden is a page-turning and thought-provoking novel. Extraordinary sensory detail vividly conjures another time and place; heroine Esther Kaminsky’s poignant struggle transcends time and place. The ultimate revelation here: for many women, if not most, 2011 is no different than 1911, but triumph is nonetheless possible.”

                    -- Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of The Scenic Route


& “Jerusalem Maiden is a novel but the reader feels that she has entered living, lost history.  Once engaged, you cannot put this book down. Suddenly, you are in Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Paris in the years spanning 1911-1924. The details are so real, in terms of crowded living conditions, the harshness of Jewish life under the Ottoman Empire, the rising tide of Zionist politics--but the book also tells us how people dressed, what they ate, and about Sabbath joys and Torah discussions . . . Will Talia Carner’s heroine, Esther, a preternaturally talented young artist born into an impoverished but ultra-religious Jewish family, dare to choose her own destiny: a life of art, passion, and personal happiness or will she instead fulfill her obligations both to God and to the family that forced her into an arranged marriage?   Will Esther allow herself the right to love, something women today take for granted, but a hard-won right for religious women of previous generations? Will she honor her talent—she is on the threshold of fame in Paris-- or give it up, submit to the demands of family? . . . Carner renders these issues heartbreakingly real.”

                    -- Phyllis Chesler, author of  Women and Madness and Women of the Wall


&  "Talia Carner is a skillful and heartfelt storyteller who takes the reader on journey of the senses, into a world long forgotten.  Her story of a woman who struggles and seeks the light is universal and inspiring.  Read this book and savor.”


                   -- Jennifer Lauck, author of the New York Times bestseller Blackbird and Found: A Memoir


&  “Jerusalem Maiden won me over from the first moment I began reading it . . .The novel literally forced me to identify with the protagonist, and relive the tribulations of the young woman, torn between her commitment to the religious precepts of the ultraorthodox community in which she is raised, and her passion for self-fulfillment through art . . . The exceptionally gifted author, Talia Carner, crafted a novel rich with poetic yet authentic descriptions. It is meticulously researched, and steeped in thorough knowledge, no less than deep understanding, of both this community and of the world of art in Paris, at the beginning of the twentieth century. . . The detailed, talented, descriptions make you feel as if you were actually there, seeing the sights, hearing the sounds and smelling the scents of these settings . . . Its plot, too, is utterly enthralling. As soon as I opened Jerusalem Maiden, the pages seemed to turn of their own accord and I could not put it down until I reached its dramatic, surprising, yet totally convincing end.”

                 —Eva Etzioni-Halevy, author of The Triumph of Deborah, The Song of Hannah and The Garden of Ruth


&  "Despite the sweet title, "Jerusalem Maiden" is not a nostalgic, romantic look at ultra-orthodox life in Israel. This compelling novel vividly examines the grinding poverty and oppressive religious domination the heroine suffers in pre-World War I Mea Shearim, and then compares it with the seductive nonconformity she enjoys in the Parisian art world ten years later. Though this is the particular story of the author's grandmother, the battle between authoritarian faith and artistic or other freedom could just as easily be the story of my grandmother or anyone's grandmother. And the powerful ending makes us realize the devastating truth that, throughout history, when faced with sacrificing her own desires to care for the children who need her, a woman makes the sacrifice no matter what the personal cost.

                                            —Maggie Anton, author of Rashi’s Daughters


&  "JERUSALEM MAIDEN is a fascinating story of how a talented, artistic woman from a conservative faith must balance the responsibilities of her heritage against her passions for love and art.  Readers will be compelled by Esther’s search to find herself amid the expectations of the people most important to her, and her expectations for herself.  This is a story that brings an elusive time and place to life and makes you question the strengths of your own beliefs."  

                    —Vanitha Sankaran, author of Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages




&  Publishers' Weekly (May 2011 review)


     "Carner's engaging new novel opens in 1911 in an impoverished Jerusalem.... Carner renders Esther's world with great authority and detail, revealing intimate familial rituals within the larger political and socioeconomic context.... an earnest story of an introspective girl struggling to interpret God's will ....The setting, concerns... will make this particularly appealing to Jewish readers"



& Publishers' Weekly (early review, during the  2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award):


     "The author draws upon meticulous research to paint a picture of a cloistered community that is both immersive and accessible to outsiders. With an exceptional handle on both place and time, the author lets readers into a foreign world through the eyes of a marvelously human heroine..."



& Jerusalem Post

(A full page in the print edition)


Maiden voyage


     "Seeing beauty everywhere, the Haredi protagonist is frightened by her desire to paint 'graven image.' ...Jerusalem Maiden is enriched by the lush, descriptive writing with which Carner adorns Esther's story. Mentions of cerulean skies and staccato movements are not out of place; a "pillowed landscape" enticing Esther to "stroke a canvas with the softest gray and a touch of hidden blue" fits the mood of the story perfectly...Early on, an unsavory episode between Esther and an Arab merchant anticipates the depth of their representation throughout the book; ...[as] historical fiction's first responsibility is fidelity to established historical fact. The observations about the various communities are recorded dutifully... Jerusalem Maiden is an engaging meeting point between the observant world and creative urges...One way or another, something meaningful to Esther will be irrevocably lost as a result of her decision. It is a suitable ambiguity.... "



& Christianity Today


Letting Go- a novel in which self-realization rules


     "It's hard for most of us to understand life in another era...days without running water or electricity, television or laptops....trying to imagine the constant presence of death. It was once a common occurrence for women to die in childbirth, for children to lose more than one sibling before adolescence, for fathers and brothers to be killed in war or seemingly random acts of violence.... Esther, is convinced that each of her transgressions, no matter how small, is being punished directly and severely by God.... No one in Esther's community is well off, but the women have particularly hard lives... Is the choice between religiosity and modernity so impossible?" 



& Kirkus Reviews


     "A welcome glimpse into a little-understood world.

Will Esther manage to free herself of the prohibitions which she has internalized and achieve artistic expression and true love? Readers will fervently hope so." 



&  Star Tribune (Minneapolis/ St/ Paul)


By Patricia Hagen

     "...exotic stage and expressive of broad emotions.... a fascinating look at a little-known culture and time. Esther's struggles with faith and reason are compelling and sympathetically portrayed....

I happily devour the book in one sitting.

The bottom line: Tuck "Jerusalem Maiden" in your beach bag."


& Jewish Book World magazine


Fall 2011


     "Talia Carner uses beautiful language, exquisite storytelling, and detailed research to transport the reader into the world of old Jerusalem. The city’s sounds, smells, and sights are woven into the narrative. Readers of many generations and backgrounds will be able to recognize and relate to the customs, relationships, and families that form the fascinating setting for Esther’s life.
            Jerusalem Maiden is a saga, a history, and a dramatic and hopeful love story that also moves through the exciting art world of early 20th century Paris and modern day Israel. It deals with women’s roles and rights, loves, marriages, children, and the question of how to live a reconciled life within a community. This is a book to savor and discuss while contemplating Esther Kaminsky’s choices as a Jerusalem Maiden.



&  Jewish Woman Magazine


     ""Talia Carner’s novel, Jerusalem Maiden (Harper, $14.99) is set in the heavenly and earthly city, in the early years of the 20th century. Esther Kaminsky is a talented young woman, born into a poor ultra-orthodox family in Mea Shearim. As a young girl, she is torn between the heavy responsibilities she feels to marry and have children, and her own artistic yearnings; she is more interested in drawing than speculating about potential matches, like her school mates. For Esther, the openness of Paris, which she has secretly read about, seems preferable to the regulated life she faces in Jerusalem. Carner, formerly the editor of Savvy Woman magazine, has a sharp eye for historical detail, as she portrays Esther’s struggles with questions of faith, destiny, ritual, spiritual life and freedom."



& Huffington Post


By Carol Hoenig

     "...this novel is one of the few books that I can rave about and recommend without hesitation.

My heart ached for Esther as I watched her go through life suppressing her dream in order to do what she was told... Brava to Talia Carner for writing such a provocative novel, one that is bound to stir much discussion."


&      Huffington Post


by Dora Levy Mossanen
      "The main thread running through the story is Esther’s continued struggle with her deep-rooted guilt and with God — the story’s main [anta]gonist — and the ongoing clash between her sense of responsibility to her religious mores on one hand and to her passions and desires on the other. Esther’s tumultuous journey leads the reader to 1968 and back to Paris and to the gripping epilogue. We care for Esther. We pray that the older Esther has learned to make peace with her God.



&   Hadassah Magazine


Personal Tale

 "...a tale spun by a natural storyteller, [who's] done an astounding amount of research into the periods and places she re-creates and, yet, what is striking is the timelessness and dreamlike quality of her worlds. We are drawn into the saga of Esther Kaminsky, the Jerusalem maiden, and stay under her story’s spell until the ambiguously happy end.
But Jerusalem Maiden is more than a good read. It is a novel that is historical, psychological, sociological and feminist at the same time. Esther is born into the ultra-Orthodox world of Mea Shearim. We see the city under the yoke of a decaying Ottoman Empire and a girl imprisoned by the family and community she both loves and resents. Details bring the texture of this world alive: claustrophobic homes, serpentine streets, the prayers and domestic shackles; religious demands and political realities stifle Esther. Carner also takes us beyond the walls that hem in Esther to the surrounding hills and groves that hint at nothing less than the promises of freedom from her role as a Jewish woman, and the right to live a life of beauty through art."



&  The Jewish Journal of South Florida


by Morton I. Teicher


Strident clash between tradition and modernity

"This remarkable story begins in Jerusalem in 1911 where 12-year old Esther Kaminsky, the precocious Jerusalem Maiden, lives with her Orthodox family in Me’ah She’arim....

...Esther is forced to confront the essential conflict that has dogged her life for so long. The strident clash between tradition and modernity permeates the scene and the challenging choices that Esther has to make.
...This profoundly moving story grabs the reader’s attention from the very beginning and never lets go."



& Dish Magazine


By Rachel Gladstone Nemuth

     "...a heartbreakingly beautiful novel...

The rich prose Carner delivers on every page will transport you to a time and place so filled with mystique and magic that it will overwhelm your senses. Well-researched and beautifully written, this novel is like a painting; colorful and enticing, drawing you in from word one and never deigning to let you go."



&    Heeb


by Shmarya Rosenberg
      “Few books capture Jerusalem life in the early years of the 1900s like “Jerusalem Maiden” …Carner weaves her story masterfully in part because Esther Kaminsky … fulfilled what her grandmother’s could have become.
Jerusalem Maiden tells the story of a Jew trapped in a community that smothers her but that she also loves dearly. Where Esther finally ends up…is a story told with beauty and grace, and with respect for both the traditional life of Jerusalem’s Old Yishuv and for those who with tears in their eyes sought to leave it.”


&  Read any good Jewish book lately?

 Elana Sztokman

(Executive Director of The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance --JOFA)
“loved this book, about a haredi young woman in the early 20th century Jerusalem who is torn between art and religion, beautiful writing, captivating story about women learning to set their passions free, a story that still resonates today for a lot of women, not only religious women.”



&  Bookhampton


      "...this Summer's break-out Bestseller is JERUSALEM MAIDEN....

It isn't every day that a book about a Jewish young woman's spiritual conflict, becomes a major Hampton-read. This novel, which has blended both fiction and historical fact, has introduced an entirely new community to the history of Jews in the Ottoman Empire, and most importantly to the roles and cultural challenges which faced our 'grandmothers.'"



&  Intermountain Jewish News


By Temima Shulman


Art and Torah

     "The urge to paint is G-d’s hand leading her, yet she believes her art is His creation, thus giving her permission to draw. ... [The conflict] is a struggle and a worthwhile issue to explore. Carner ’s description of Jerusalem’s landscape is intoxicating and sensory; from the silky pink flowers of the almond orchard, to the Cyclamens peeking out from thousand-year old stones, to the uncorking of the linseed oil for paint and the description of the ancient buildings surrounding the rugged hills. Esther has a special relationship with her father, and loves that he considers her an intelligent person, worthy of conversations.... [yet] still hopes for her betrothal by thirteen."



& Long Island Woman


By Debbi Honorof

     "Talia Carner has written an exquisite tale that recreates a city and its people and beckons the reader to follow Esther through her adolescence in Jerusalem, married life in Jaffa, and a visit to Paris that transforms her."


Grab your blanket and sunscreen...for a book that makes great, engrossing reading."



& The Reporter

Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton


Rabbi Rachel Esserman

      "...Certain types of stories suit the discussion offered by [book] clubs--and Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner (Harper) is a great representative of the genre.


Carner writes in lush, sweeping prose. Descriptions of place are her strong suit and these help create the appropriate mood, whether she is describing Israel or France.... The author also does an excellent job creating a three-dimensional character in Esther....her circumstances accurately reflect the period in which she lives...."



&   Forward


By Daniella Wexler

      “Jerusalem Maiden” ...makes a salient distinction between religion and religious establishment. ...[the novel] sheds light on issues of communal pressure and female vulnerability that, unfortunately, still play out in religious communities today."



& Times Beacon Record


Human rights supporter Talia Carner

By Donna Newman

     In "Jerusalem Maiden" Carner re-imagines her grandmother's life, and creates a "what if" scenario that enables the talented Esther to pursue dreams she probably never actually imagined. ... to construct a narrative with historical authenticity, Carner needed to learn about the lives Jewish women led in her grandmother's day. There was little evidence to be found. Women were largely ignored by the historians of the time.

Doing research, she walked the streets of Jerusalem with a 1912 map. She found that many whole neighborhoods remained unchanged. While she found a few "preserved, hand-written journals and some barely legible Ph.D. dissertations typed on manual typewriters decades ago" in a library...at The Old Yishuv Court Museum she was able to spend time in a replica of the cramped kitchen "in which my protagonist and her mother had toiled..."



& Los Angeles Jewish Journal


by Dora Levy Mossanen
       "Let me begin by saying that when I finished reading the engrossing “Jerusalem Maiden” by Talia Carner (Harper Collins, $14.99), two thoughts flashed through my mind. First, that the inevitable ending was quite satisfying! And, second, that a number of the ancient cultural and religious rituals and practices among the ultra Orthodox Charedi Jews in Jerusalem at the onset of the twentieth century are still being followed, and not just by Charedim. ...

Jerusalem of 1911, at the end of the rule of the Ottoman Empire, was a mixture of isolated individuals—Arabs, Charedim, Zionists, Chassidim and even a few Parisians—with such conflicting religious and cultural beliefs you might think they lived on different planets. The animosity between Jews and Arabs is well documented, perhaps not so the resentment of Orthodox Jews toward the “brash” Zionists for fighting, for drying swamplands and for planning vineyards, instead of “waiting for the Messiah to bring salvation.” Zionist women were disliked for their slack ways, their lack of respect to men, for speaking up in mixed company....

The main thread running through the story is Esther’s continued struggle with her deep-rooted guilt and with God — the story’s main [anta]gonist — and the ongoing clash between her sense of responsibility to her religious mores on one hand and to her passions and desires on the other. Esther’s tumultuous journey leads the reader to 1968 and back to Paris and to the gripping epilogue. We care for Esther. We pray that the older Esther has learned to make peace with her God.

The Independent (Southampton & East Hampton, NY)


By Jessica Mackin

     "Jerusalem Maiden is a beautifully told story... [The] main character, Esther Kaminsky, is portrayed in such a light that the reader is brought back to the early 1900's...  You will not want to put the book down. You feel the character's dilemma as she fights to stall her arranged marriage, which is expected of her as a young teen. This captivating story is one everyone should read. Will Esther follow her heart and talent, or do what is expected of her in her community?

Author Talia Carner of Bridgehampton is a great story teller. She is the former publisher of Savvy Woman Magazine and a lecturer at international women's economic forums. She was inspired by her grandmother's untapped artistic genius that could never bloom in the confinement of her society."


The Jewish Standard (NJ)


By Rebecca Boroson

     "...if you liked Maggie Anton's "Rashi's Daughters" series and applauded Barbra Streisand's version of "Yentl," you will find much to appreciate in Talia Carner's "Jerusalem Maiden" (Harper).

I was caught — on the very first page....The story of the struggle for independence of a gifted young female artist in a rigid charedi community begins in Me'ah She'arim in 1911 and ends in Paris in 1968, but remains as relevant today as ever.
The story of the struggle for independence of a gifted young female artist in a rigid charedi community remains as relevant today as ever. The story is vividly told, with an abundance of literally colorful detail about a little-understood community."

& Rabbi Gerald L Zelizer, Congregation Neve Shalom, Metuchen, NJ

     "I could not put it down. It is so thoroughly researched and above all, so superbly written, its drama punctuating every page, enticing me page after page until I could learn the novel's resolution. I want to thank you so much for making this exception to my reading habits, an exception that became a major event in my reading regimen."


& The Examiner (FL)


Kimberly Bower

      "Carner's rich details subtly place the reader on the scene. Only when I stopped reading to contemplate Esther's choices or caught my breath at the next turn in the road did I realize how deeply I was immersed in this story. Jerusalem Maiden is breathtakingly beautiful and will provide many opportunities for personal reflection."



& Chutzpah Magazine

"With Meticulous and rich details, Talia Carner transports us back to early 20th century Jerusalem that few young American women today can imagine. Before there was the State of Israel, before there was the women's movement, Carner's heroine Esther Kaminsky dares to venture beyond her place--and her lot--in life, not just to dream, but to pursue the dream.... In JERUSALEM MAIDEN, Carner has written a compelling historical novel inspired by her own grandmother's untapped artistic genius which could never bloom in the confinement of her society...."


& JOFA Journal


By Roselyn Bell

"The author is somewhat of a painter, applying vivid color descriptions to the scenes of Jerusalem and its surroundings. ... many historical and geographical details are faithfully executed....The plot takes many extraordinary turns....

This novel is a good read, both for its depiction of life in the old Yishuv under Ottoman and British rule and for its portrayal of the inner struggles of a young woman truly seeking what Hashem wants of her while flying in the the face of gender-based role expectations. Modern Jewish feminists can both enjoy and identify with this heroine."





&    La Bibliofille


By Alice McNamara
     "Jerusalem Maiden is a lovely book. It is well-researched, and Carner understands what life is like for the Haredi community. They are truly learned in the Torah and the Talmud, yet are otherwise beset by poverty and ignorance. They subsist on the charity of the Jews of the world, yet condemn them for their lack of righteousness and adherence to God’s word (as the Haredi interpret it!). This dichotomy continues today.

    "I highly recommend Jerusalem Maiden. Many thanks again to the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program for sending me this book".



& ReadersWell


By Emily Hiesl

     "The sense of urgency in the story, leading up to Esther's climactic decision, is breathless…. Esther's "impertinent" character and her reactions are believable through all the twists and turns she takes…. Her confusion and desperation amidst so many trials and betrayals are immediate and heartrending to read about - I was completely absorbed in this story, which happens to be based on author Carner's grandmother but veers in a what-if direction … this novel is a great exploration of faith in the face of changing times and places… great character development and language as rich and expressive as any of Esther's beautiful paintings.  A terrific read, well worth a look in June 2011."



&  BookViews


By Alan Caruba

     "History is the backdrop for an excellent novel by Talia Carner... This is a gripping piece of fiction that many will find has reverberations in modern times as well."



& LibraryThing


By Rayna Eliana 

     "...the book for you. The tapestry of destiny is woven within the pages as Esther struggles to find relief and contentment within the Ultra-Orthodox world...[Esther] is a multifaceted character.... as she struggles to find relief and contentment within the Ultra-Orthodox world... I enjoyed Jerusalem Maiden, by Talia Carner, and recommend it to everyone, no matter their religion."



& Great Thoughts


By Andrea Peskind Katz
"If you are a fan of the fabulous book The Red Tent, you will like Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner.... it is a great historical story ...Carner does a masterful job of describing the poverty in Meah Shearim, where Esther and her family live. You literally feel their hunger and the abject poverty.... you feel her anguish vividly as she decides to go down a path she doesn’t want.

The book is cleverly written ... and is really at its best at the end when Esther is old and her granddaughter comes into the story.

This is a very powerful book with amazing descriptive writing. Carner does an outstanding job of conjuring the time and setting of the book. Any fan of historical fiction will adore this book!"



& TinyLibrary


     "Carner is a talented writer and her descriptions of the locations in the book (Jerusalem, Jaffa, Paris) were very vivid....   As I find religion fascinating, I loved the parts dealing with her childhood and community and felt that it was done very well - informative but not over the top.  Carner had also obviously completed extensive research about her era and setting as everything just felt right, like being transported back in time.

     "Esther was a great main character in that she was easy to sympathize with.... The relationships in the book were well written. 

....well worth a read.  It reminded me of The Historian in that the setting was just as important as the characters and I was left with an urge to visit Jerusalem and go back in time to pre-WW2 Paris."


& GoodReads


By Holly Weiss

     "The book is an excellent mirror of Orthodox Jewish culture in the early twentieth century. Descriptive images abound: fried Shabbat challah sprinkled with sugar, squawking chickens hanging by their feet in the market, hair coated with olive oil then draped over the ears in a braid....  

The novel's message is universal for those repressed by society, religious order, or self-induced guilt."



& Best Damn Creative Writing Blog


By Jonathan Brett Kennedy

     "It’s rare to find a book where you want to find out how the story ends, but you hold yourself back because you don’t want to leave the world the author has created.  Jerusalem Maiden is just such story.

….This book’s central theme is about not denying who you truly are.  In many ways, it recalls the works of Sholom Aleichem, whose work is best known through the stage adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof.  The characters are simple people that the reader cannot help but love.  The traditions, even when they seem outdated in the 21st century, make us long for a simpler time."



& WriterFace


By Fran Lewis

     "As I read the book I hear Esther’s voice, understand her desires and feelings and the Jewish words...it was like taking a journey back in time…. Traditions brought to light. Discussions about the role of women, girls and how they differ from both men and boys added by Esther’s strong commentaries and opinions makes this book unique. …

… Fate plays a hand in Esther's destiny.  What will she ultimately do? What about her role as a Jewish Maiden? …A forbidden relationship and a hidden secret that remains concealed. An ending that will surprise the reader, help you understand her final fate and decision. Will she go and find her Primordial Light or will it be extinguished? … 


     Read this heartfelt, thought provoking and outstanding novel by author Talia Carner. Esther is so vividly portrayed. Outspoken, tenacious and definitely not your typical Jewish Maiden with thoughts and ideas of her own and a voice that is definitely heard by the reader. ...This is one book that everyone should read filled with so much history, tradition and Jewish expressions.... Thank you for the honor of reading and reviewing this outstanding novel."



& Stargazer


By Pujitha Krishnan Fernandes

     "This is a great story, very well-written with so many details of the daily lives of the people. Carner has made the story more than about a religion or even religion – it has a universality.... this story is an eye-opener.

     Jerusalem Maiden is clearly Esther’s story, but it is peopled with some very memorable characters. I loved going with Esther on this journey....I grew to care so much about Esther that throughout I was rooting for her to find peace.

     Verdict: Highly recommended. Even those who have no strong feelings about god/faith or religion will be pulled into Esther’s story."



& The Lost Entwife


By Lydia

“… a very approachable, easy to read story about a young Jewish girl pre-WWI.

… I’m familiar with some Jewish traditions and rituals, but this book took them all to a new level with the strictness Esther and her family lived by those rules.  Just being kosher wasn’t even – but being raised, as a female, to be the “salvation” of the Jewish race and having all that weight put on you – I can’t even imagine.


“…In a way, the story reminded me of another of my favorites, A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka, … I am glad I read this book just for the information I received about a time I really haven’t read that much about and a sect of the Jewish people I knew very little about.”



&  Life in Review 


by Michelle Vasquez

"Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner is a beautiful story that will take you away to another time and place. It’s a story that will touch you and will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.

I very highly recommend this book. It is very beautifully written and it’s an emotional roller coaster. … I understood [Esther's] struggles as a young girl and my heart went out to her…she is a powerful character that I won’t soon forget. I really enjoyed the era and the settings of the story! The author takes you away and makes you feel like you’re there. I was extremely impressed with Ms Carner’s writing and I will definitely be looking for more of her books.”



&  Unabridged Chick


By Audra Friend

“Having just finished this book, I'm still flailing (internally) and sort of waving my arms because I'm so caught up in the bittersweet ending and the story of the characters. This was a beautiful, moving novel.

The setting of this book was wholly alien to me and yet Carner's writing and brilliantly conceived characters plunged me into the story and Esther's world.  Esther might be one of the most moving and compelling heroines I've read in a long time: her complicated relationship with her faith, her God, her family, and her community was gripping.

…I found it beautifully written and easy to read. Despite Esther's life being so unlike mine, her emotions and responses were so authentic, I could appreciate and relate to her and I cared so very, very much about how things would turn out for her. I think this would a fantastic book for discussion groups and book clubs, and anyone interested in novels about unusual faith communities. Or, frankly, any reader who wants to be caught up in a beautifully told story.”



& BiblioSue


By Sue

“… being the Francophile that I am, I loved the part of the book set in Paris the best; but it wasn't only the setting that I loved reading.  It's probably a cliché but when she was in Paris, Esther - sheltered from the outside world essentially her whole life - was allowed to completely be herself, without any obligations to anyone but herself.  …and for that I have to admire her ability to develop such courage. 

I found Jerusalem Maiden to be enjoyable and an insightful look into Orthodox Jewish life in the early 1900s.”



&  Book Journey


By Sheila DeChantal

"In a word: passionate.
Talia Carner had me from the first pages of this well written, well thought out book. Even as I type now I find myself taking a deep breath as I recall turning the pages, at once fascinated and curious with where I would be taken on this particular book journey....seriously here – I am looking for the words to let you know this book amazed me.

It made me think about passions and talents in general and how our lives are shaped, much like Esther’s by choices and life happenings beyond our control. It made me think about how does one choose between right and right?

A page turner for sure, but know that while this book speaks of faith, it is not (not exactly anyway) Christian Fiction, nor is it marketed that way.... Overall, if you enjoy Historical Fiction this is a wonderful read. I was delighted to not find it to be a heavy read, but instead it was like taking a journey with Esther walking together through Jerusalem and through her life."


& Books Like Breathing


By Grace

"This is another book that I stayed up and read for hours when I should have been sleeping....

I must begin by saying that I am not Jewish and have very little knowledge of Orthodox Jewish culture. I did, however, identify with Esther’s story. She found her dreams and talents clashing with her beliefs and what was expected of her by her family and her community.

Jerusalem Maiden was an amazing coming of age story...this is one of the better ones that I have picked up. The writing was vivid and engaging. ...I’m not religious at all so I really can’t commiserate with that part of Esther’s story but I can with her desire to meet the expectations of her family as well as follow her dreams and live up to her talent."



&  Woman Around Town


By Charlene Giannetti

"Rarely does a novel come along that succeeds on so many levels. Talia Carner’s Jerusalem Maiden is indeed well written, her descriptions of Jerusalem in the early 1900s, so vivid we are transported to another place and time. Meticulously researched, we learn a great deal of history, how the Ottoman Empire’s final days affected those caught in the crossfire. And we also are brought inside the Orthodox Jewish society, learning what it was like for women growing up in such an ultra-religious community.

Yet behind the well-developed story line, Carner raises questions that have no easy answers. Does God punish us for our transgressions? Reward us for our good deeds? And who is qualified to interpret God’s plan?"


& Book Room Review


By Christina Zawadiwsky
Ms. Carner captures the true and universal essence of childhood (Esther’s favorite part of life) and the struggles in growing older and taking on familial and religious responsibilities, especially in the Haredi faith, in which there are hundreds of rules. Paris at the beginning of the century is also vividly portrayed. Jerusalem Maiden (which is how Esther signs her artworks) is rich and full and talks of longing and dreams and even, unexpectedly, fulfilled hopes – but always with a consequence. Reading Jerusalem Maiden has made me want to read Ms. Carver’s other two books, Puppet Child and China doll, and I high recommend Jerusalem Maiden itself as a very satisfying historical and cultural experience."

& Diary of a Stay-At-Home Mom


By Sandra

"I was intrigued, being that I'm an Historical Fiction AND Bible Lover, I knew this book would have me engaged from the get go......and that it did.

The way the characters are written is so engaging and so endearing, you find yourself loving every single one of them, wanting to help them and sit with them for a spell. I found myself turning the pages slowly, savoring every single word and as I neared the end of the book I had this overwhelming bitter sweet moment, I wanted to see where it ended but I didn't want to say goodbye to Esther OR to the author.

This book was brilliant. I think one of the biggest things I noticed too was the traditions and the simple way things were done, and you know me I'm all about Simpler Times and often wish I could just turn back the clock and go back to when things were easier, simpler, truer. ...Love this book and highly recommend it."



 & Reviewed by Mom


"I had saved the BEST for last. I thought this book was very well written, had interesting history, was heart-breaking and hopeful, all that you want in a good book!

I could not put his book down and was sorry when I finished it. As a matter of fact, when I read the last page I was booting up my pc so that I could look at Esther's art online. Wait a minute, Esther was a character in a book, there would be no art to look at ! When a writer can get you to believe that the character is a real person, they have written a great book. Do yourself a favor and read this book."



& Seaside Book Corner


By Susan Curtis

"Jerusalem Maiden held my interest and won't be forgotten for a long time. I wanted to keep reading and not stop. I am sorry the book ended. I loved the surprise ended.
...I think this is a good Jewish book read. I will most likely recommend this to our book club. It is a great jumping off point to talk about women (especially Orthodox vs. other Jewish women).

But, most of all I enjoyed reading about the character's, and the different people that lived in pre-Jerusalem. There is a love interest and there are explicit sexual scenes. But, I think this is necessary for the book."



& Diary of a Stay-At-Home Mom


By Sandra

"This book was brilliant.... the characters are so engaging and endearing, you find yourself loving every single one of them, wanting to sit with them for a spell. I found myself turning the pages slowly, savoring every single word... near the end I had this overwhelming bitter sweet moment, ...I didn't want to say goodbye to Esther OR to the author....
Love this book and highly recommend it."



& Rundpinne


By Jennifer

"When a book passes my way that makes me stop, think and utter “wow!”, I know it is a book I shall be sharing and Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner is just such a book. ...Carner creates an exceptional protagonist in Esther and through extremely vivid descriptions, the reader will easily be transported to another time and for this reader, to a religion very foreign to me.... Jerusalem Maiden is beautiful, and at times sad, yet always realistic look at life’s difficulties; the struggle for personal identity intermingles with community, faith, and family. ...I would recommend Jerusalem Maiden to all readers and especially to book discussion groups."



&  Peeking Between the Pages


By Darlene

"A beautifully told novel that had me feeling as though I was experiencing the sights and sounds of Jerusalem and later Paris through the words of the author. I love reading novels that take me away to another place, another culture, and another religion. I was somewhat familiar with some of the traditions of the Jewish religion but this novel took it to a whole other level ...It's a look into a life that most of us can never imagine living and for that very reason, it's a great book to read. The writing itself is beautiful and so vivid."


&  Reading Through Life


"What I found really fantastic, was the way that the author created these complex (and ultimately flawed) characters that really stuck with me. I wanted things to go differently for them, and it just didn’t always work out.

... Beautifully crafted characters and vivid situations. You’ll also learn a bit about the community, culture, and religion, and become engrossed in Esther’s journey to figure out what’s right for her. But in the end, it’s about putting yourself in the place of someone else, and feeling their pain and frustration at the lives they’ve been given."



& Good Girl Gone Redneck


"... this is not a book to be rushed through, but a story that needs to be fully enjoyed, revealed slowly through each chapter - or perhaps - honestly, through each and every page.

... I love the ways that the author tied together the information we were lacking before the end, and how the connections nearly exploded across the page for us, the reader, who then became somewhat surprised - but pleasantly so."



&       Bermuda Onion


"...I became fascinated with Esther and her struggles and also learned a lot about the religion....Carner’s writing is beautiful and her descriptions made me feel like I was there.... I enjoyed the glimpse of the Hasedi religion and World War I era Israel and Europe.

There was an event in the epilogue that took me totally by surprise and I found I wanted to know more at that point, so I didn’t want the book to end....I’m glad I read it.  Several days later, it’s still on my mind.  It made me think and reflect and taught me some new things. " 



& Bookworm's Dinner


By Wisteria

"Jerusalem Maiden is a sensitive and poignant novel... Talia Carner’s prose is expressive and flows with ease.  The setting is imaginatively realized with a photographer’s eye.  Esther will be remembered as a tangible heroine with an indomitable presence. Easily, a top pick for 2011.  Highly recommended."


&  Of Books and Reading


"...a fascinating story that highlights the internal conflict that Esther experiences... the novel never loses the focus on Esther’s conflict ...Carner has developed “Jerusalem Maiden’s” characters with rare skill. One finds they are drawn into the characters’ personal conflicts, caring deeply that the outcome will be favorable for a particular individual....
I recommend “Jerusalem Maiden” to any reader who is looking for a fascinating read. It is a well written, deeply personal portrait of a young woman struggling to follow her dreams without sacrificing her family or the principles by which she has been raised. You will find yourself hoping that she can do so."


& The Window Seat Reader


"This is a historical fiction novel that has the power to transport its readers into another time and place. I enjoyed exploring the city of Jerusalem through Esther's eyes getting a feel for the corruption that took place as the Ottoman Empire was in its decline... Historical fiction fans will largely appreciate this book.... This would be a great book club pick - lots of potential discussion topics."


 &  Life is Short--Read Fast

By Jennie

 "I vacillated between heart-breaking sadness for Esther and hard anger over the culture in which she lived. The writing was so well done I could feel the melting heat and oppressive religious intolerance bearing down on her. I cheered when she attempted to make her own destiny and gasped when things went drastically different than I anticipated. Throughout this story the presence of art and beauty was painted letter-by-letter. Beautiful descriptions of art and locations flowed throughout the pages weaving a magnificent tale of passion and duty."



& Spirituality Religion


By Cheryl A. Chatfield, Ph.D.

"I cried near the end. I don't do that too often with novels anymore, so that was a nice surprise. The story carries the reader through to the conclusion with no break in the action. I liked the main character....We watch her grow from a young rebellious woman in Israel to a married, mature rebellious adult in Paris. We smell the odors, see the sights, hear the sounds, taste the foods and touch the fabrics she so loves, as the novel becomes a sensory experience into her two worlds.
We sympathize with this young woman who questions her faith and its strict rules, wondering what God wants her to do and not accepting the rules that are imposed. We learn about the Jewish customs and traditions of this time when women were held hostage to a male-dominated culture. Esther tries doing the right thing and not following the heat of her passion; she tries to honor the religious beliefs that she loves, until it is too late to resist. There is joy, there is sorrow. "


& Bookworm With View


" In one word, I would describe this book as riveting.  I learned so much about a culture and time I knew nothing about... something I love to do while reading.

If you enjoyed The Red Tent, or The Diva and the Doctor you will love this book. I couldn't put it down, and the ending left me wanting more.  5 stars."



& Jade Keller


"'I just finished reading a book so enjoyable I felt annoyed watching a movie last night because it was taking me away from this precious book.... The story is emotional and gripping, heady and thoughtful, without the prose turning at all preachy, thick, or dull.
A definite recommended read."



& WindowSeat Reader


" This would be a great book club pick - lots of potential discussion topics. [In fact, I wish I had a book club because I have all these questions swirling around in my head right this minute!]

This is a historical fiction novel that has the power to transport its readers into another time and place. I enjoyed exploring the city of Jerusalem through Esther's eyes getting a feel for the corruption that took place as the Ottoman Empire was in its decline. It was also interesting to read about a faithful Jewish family and what their daily lifestyle would have looked like."



& A Thinker's Blog


"It’s rare to find a book where you want to find out how the story ends, but you hold yourself back because you don’t want to leave the world the author has created.  Jerusalem Maiden is just such story.

...this is a book that when finished, you will feel like you’ve lost your best friend and you’ll immediately want to start it all over again."



&   Recipe Girl



"Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner was the story of a young woman living in Jerusalem in the early 1900′s. Her family is of the most conservative Jewish sect and she is proud to be a part of that life. But, she is also a gifted artist and her religion forbids trying to copy/better what God has created. Throughout the story and her life she struggles with letting her talent flourish vs. honoring her God. It was a beautiful story spanning 60 years and eventually moving from Israel to Paris."



&   Book Sake


Jessica Badeaux

"...this story deserves praise.,,,the story of these people, the Haredi was really fascinating, and a side of Judaism that I have never really experienced.  Esther’s struggles were not only with what her family and culture expected, but her own personal beliefs in God, and how they could bring so much heartache as well as joy. ...the love story that spans decades, is unassuming... I liked this because it allowed for Esther’s story to be her own...  The sacrifices Esther makes over and over in the name of God and for her family are astonishing, and her character is so well written I wanted there to be more of her story.  The author also incorporated one of my other favorite settings: Paris, into Esther’s story, so really this novel was a hit with me." 



& Lady of the Arts


"I just finished this book last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.
It is an epic tale that spans from the end of the Ottoman rule in Jerusalem in 1911 and ends after WWII and the War of Independence in 1948.
Esther's battle with her upbringing and artistic talent is a major theme in this novel. The passion for creativity is a gift that she struggles to cultivate. Ultimately it is also a love story."



& Serendipitous Reading


"...I was intrigued by the title... When I finally started to read it, I was mesmerized by the tale of history, the wanting to do something that was out-of-bounds for women at the time.... Esther's love of art, family, history---and the eventual outcome of the book had me thinking. Would you give everything up that you have to gain independence, happiness?..."



& Chance Lucky

Marko Fong

     "...Talia Carner is a skilled novelist, but more importantly she had the courage as a writer to take the tougher route of being true to her characters and their world... Carner manages to recreate a convincing portrait of Jerusalem in the last days of Ottoman rule and the mindset of last generation of Jewish immigrants who came to the Holy Land before either the Holocaust and Israel. She documents the food, the clothing, and customs of the Haredi community so well that I lapsed a couple times into believing that Carner’s fictional Jerusalem was rooted in her experience rather than her projection of her grandmother’s life as a girl. Even more difficult, she catches the complex political history and the mindset that came with Haredi practices without making the reader feel the huge amount of research beneath."

Annie Mangino


     "Wow!....Talia Carner writes a literate, compelling story that reaches readers on so many levels.

Intimately following Esther’s life, from September 1911 as an 11-year-old girl until December 1924 as a 25-year-old woman, readers will immediately connect to Esther. The author’s writing is impeccable...that readers will live Esther’s life with her as if standing beside her.
From Palestine to Paris, the setting comes alive...pulls readers into a historically based story...one can readily identify with the confines the extremes of any religion place on individuals throughout time. It is the universal story of choices between adherence to rules and individual desires....an extraordinary story that readers will not quickly forget.

The highest rating of five stars is not adequately high enough this time."



& Gender Go Round Reviews


Harriet Klausner

     "This is a delightful historical tale of the life of a Jewish woman raised in Jerusalem during the last days of the Ottoman Empire as Jews “bloom the desert”. Esther is a terrific individual who believes her dreams and other actions led directly to the family tragedy as God punished her for failing to follow scripture. .....fans will relish this deep spotlight on being Jewish in the early twentieth century Holy Land."



& Breath of Life


Kim Justice

"This book was such a surprise of riveting, interesting, actual knowledge of history and story and character building that it had me from the get go.
.... The characters with in this book are very surprising to the fact that listening to, or praying to God and believing in God that things within their lives are there for a reason and author Talia Carner's way with writing the whole book has left me with such a desire to learn more, to listen more, to acknowledge more of God in my life."



& O2B Heavenly Minded


Kimberly Bower, librarian

Carner’s rich details subtly place the reader on the scene. Only when I stopped reading to contemplate Esther’s choices or caught my breath at the next turn in the road did I realize how deeply I was immersed in this story. JERUSALEM MAIDEN is breathtakingly beautiful and will provide many opportunities for personal reflection.


& The Second Book I Read Today blog


This was a good read. I'd recommend it to anyone curious about the time period, Haredi Judaism, or art in Paris during the time. I do think it does a good job of character development....The way in which specific terms are used and explained is rather well done....Carner's descriptions of art and the feelings that an artist has about them were very interesting and well done. Even as someone who does not know a lot about art, I was charmed by the lifestyle and the passion that it implies. Carner is good with passion.



& 3 Through Literature


Ronald Fischman

The Jewish Question: "...The poignancy of being free to be who you are, but choosing obligation over integrity, practically drenches the pages of this important literary novel with its tears and its blood. History, and the might-have-beens, will leave any perceptive reader moved."





(Within the over 120 Amazon rave reviews, there are the Amazon Vine™ Voice. Those are Amazon's most active reviewers who get access to pre-released products for the purpose of writing reviews.

 About two dozens of them have written reviews such as this one:)


& Teacher Mom

An exquisite story of being brought up as a Jerusalem maiden

 This is perhaps one of the most intriguing novels I have read in a long time…. Several times as I was reading, I had flashbacks of another novel, Angela's Ashes… The author has written this book in such an engaging manner that it is difficult to put down….many of the decrees that the community are expected to follow are explained, making it comprehensible to readers of virtually any religious or non-religious background.


Also, please check the Press page for articles about the book & the author





© Copyright 2014 Talia Carner