The Debt of Tamar, by Nicole Dweck, was a completely beautiful and emotional journey. I quickly became lost in the story and was taken through a gamut of emotions as I read this gorgeous novel. Set initially in the 16th Century, a Jewish family is taken under the wing of the family and harem of the Turkish Sultan. This sets the foundation for the novel, as the Jewish child and the son of the Sultan, a future Sultan, play and grow up together and eventually form a bond. This section read like a tale from the 1001 Arabian Nights, though it was rich with real history as well. It touched the five senses through words and left me enveloped and engaged, so much so that I couldn’t put the book down. I stayed up all night reading this book until I collapsed crying and spent from the emotional impact of the story.
Dweck’s novel is her debut, but she writes like a seasoned writer. Of course, she is a writer in degree and work as well. But it’s hard to cross over to fiction all the same and Dweck does it with amazing storytelling ability. As she intertwines the lives of the descendants of both lineages down through the decades, she writes with such purpose and with such seamless accuracy that I was never lost. Not only did I always feel connected to the story and the characters, no matter which religion or country the character was from of living in, but I also felt connected to a theory of fantastical nature that is our fates align with others and are destined, that people are put into our paths, that life takes on history’s mysteries and unresolved turmoils in order to be remembered or to fix.
And I love stories of the Middle East, the history, the intertwining of faiths. She shows us how the cultures, countries, and faiths changed with each century, decade, and major historical time markers like WWII to the modern age. I was especially grateful, as a Christian, in her showing how for those who are Jewish it’s a calling, a destiny to follow and yet how for Muslims in history have been humanitarians and hold a strong bond to their faith as well. In many ways this book shows that love, whether a mothers, a brothers, or a romantic interest, knows no bounds of faith, culture, time, position, or tradition.
I never give any spoilers, but Dweck’s gentle wordswomanship in relation to dying and death, to redemption and faith, to restoration of the soul is outstanding. This book is one that will be a lasting memory for me and I hope to read much more from Dweck in the future. It wasn’t just reading a book, it was an experience.
Devon House Press
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Author Nicole Dweck, Biography~
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.