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....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.
I found this book fascinating, especially learning more about the Haredi culture; I couldn't believe the strictures placed on women in this very narrow and pious community. It was pretty eye-opening, and also frustrating and a bit maddening. (And it made me very glad Esther's life isn't mine!) Still, to be able to visit not only Jerusalem, but also Paris in the early 1900s, made for an amazing bookish journey. Both places are always so interesting and fun to read about. As for Esther, her story is moving and poignant and ultimately bittersweet. I cheered for her, cried for her, and wished I could change her world for her...or that she would do something amazing and brave and change it herself. But not all books have happy endings. I can't say I loved this book, but it was an interesting read and Esther is one of those characters I won't soon forget. Probably because I felt so bad for her most of the time.
The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris
The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis