Tuesday, March 18, 2014

G252 E-Reading Book Review of The Debt of Tamar by Nicole Dweck

Name of Book: The Debt of Tamar

Author: Nicole Dweck

ISBN: 9780615583617

Publisher: Devon House Press

Type of book: Judaism, hiding religion, Spain, Ottoman empire, reincarnation, parallels, 1940s-1950s, Israel, art, betrayal, discovery of religion, timeless love, Holocaust, 1500s, 1900s, Present Day

Year it was published: 2013


During the second half of the 16th century, a wealthy widow by the name of Doña Antonia Nissim is arrested and charged with being a secret Jew. The punishment? Death by burning. Enter Suleiman the Magnificent, an Ottoman "Schindler," and the most celebrated sultan in all of Turkish history. With the help of the Sultan, the widow and her children manage their escape to Istanbul. Life is seemingly idyllic for the family in their new home, that is, until the Sultan's son meets and falls in love with Tamar, Doña Antonia's beautiful and free-spirited granddaughter. A quiet love affair ensues until one day, the girl vanishes.

Over four centuries later, thirty-two year old Selim Osman, a playboy prince with a thriving real estate empire, is suddenly diagnosed with a life-theatening condition. Abandoning the mother of his unborn child, he vanishes from Istanbul without an explanation. In a Manhattan hospital, he meets Hannah, a talented artist and the daughter of a French Holocaust survivor. As their story intertwines with that of their ancestors, readers are taken back to Nazi-occupied Paris, and to a seaside village in the Holy Land where a world of secrets is illuminated.

Theirs is a love that has been dormant for centuries, spanning continents, generations, oceans, and religions. Bound by a debt that has lingered through time, they must right the wrongs of the past if they're ever to break the shackles of their future.


The important characters would include Jose, Tamar, Murat III, Suleiman, David and Hannah. Each one is different although there is a strong resemblance between those from 1500s to those in modern times. Jose is determined and is described as zealous once he goes to Ottoman Empire. He is also unforgiving and is someone who is angry towards life. Tamar is Jose's beautiful and charming daughter who also happens to be intelligent. Unlike her father, she doesn't care much for her roots. Murat III is Sultan's grandson and falls in love with Tamar and does whatever he can to try to be with her. If I may say so, he reminds me of Kaoru from The Tale of Genji. Suleiman is the last descendant who is carrying a heavy secret and who seems to resist trying to establish relationships. David is Hannah's father and due to unforeseen events he loses his adopted family. Hannah is his daughter, a giving person and a talented artist. Unfortunately I didn't get to know Hannah a great deal.


Love lasts forever.


The book is written in third person narrative primarily from Tamar's father, then Murat III, Hannah's father, Suleiman, Ayda and finally Hannah herself. The first few parts take place in 1500s, in Spain then the move to Ottoman Empire and afterwards to Turkey. I really liked learning about the wealthy community in modern day Turkey as well as being treated to fascinating mix of smells and sights. What I had trouble connecting with as well as understanding is Ayuda. Her character seemed inconsistent with what I was introduced to.

Author Information:
(From the given kit)

Nicole Dweck is a writer whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country.
As a descendant of Sephardic (Spanish) refugees who escaped the Inquisition and settled on Ottoman territory, Dweck has always been interested in Sephardic history and the plight of refugees during the Spanish Inquisition. The Debt of Tamar, her debut novel, was a two-time finalist in the UK’s Cinnamon Press Novel Award Competition. It has also received an honorable award mention in the category of Mainstream/Literary Fiction from Writers Digest and was the highest rated book for two weeks running on the Harper Collin’s “Authonomy” website. It has claimed a #1 Bestseller spot in the Amazon Kindle Middle East Fiction category, a #1 Bestseller spot in Amazon Kindle Jewish Fiction category, and has been included as one of the “Hot 100″ Kindle bestsellers in the category of Historical Fiction.
Dweck holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters Degree in Global Studies with a focus on Middle East Affairs (NYU) . Her non-fiction articles have appeared in several magazines and newspapers including The New York Observer and Haute Living Magazine.
She lives in New York City with her husband and son.
For more information visit Nicole’s website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.


Honestly speaking, if I could split the book apart, I'd give the 1500s part 5 stars, while the second part would get two stars from me. Personally I felt transported and amazed when I read the 1500s part. The world was very vivid as well as speechless and beautiful. There is a bit of a dreamy fantasy as well as gritty reality mix. I loved the characters and really felt torn when it came to Tamar's father and his decision, as well as the love that Tamar and Murat III had between them. I was really hooked. However, the second part, in particular after WWII when Hannah enters the picture was way too rushed in my opinion. I felt that the chemistry tended to lack between them and a lot of threads aren't tied up as neatly as I wished. I also felt frustrated that a certain element wasn't resolved how I wanted it to be. I kind of got an impression that the curse would be broken one way, but I had trouble understanding how it was broken. There is a parallel between the 1500s as well as 1900s and its a very obvious parallel.

Quick Notes: This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. 

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, February 24
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, February 25
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, February 26
Review at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, February 27
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Friday, February 28
Review at History Undressed
Monday, March 3
Review at The Written World
Review at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Tuesday, March 4
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, March 5
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Thursday, March 6
Review at Stephanie Thornton Website
Friday, March 7
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Tuesday, March 11
Review at One Book at a Time
Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader
Wednesday, March 12
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, March 13
Review at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Friday, March 14
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, March 17
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, March 18
Review at Chick With Books
Wednesday, March 19
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, March 20
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Friday, March 21
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Monday, March 24
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Tuesday, March 25
Review at The Novel Life
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, March 26
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Thursday, March 27
Review at Kincavel Korner
Friday, March 28
Review at The True Book Addict
Review & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Interview at Kincavel Korner

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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