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Publisher's Summary

Set in the London of the 1660s and of the early 21st century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi just before the plague hits the city, and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of 17th-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents' scribe, the elusive "Aleph".

Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order reconcile the life of the heart and mind.

©2017 Rachel Kadish (P)2017 HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story, well written

Well researched, beautifully written historical novel with a twist. Characters and locations spring to life from the first pages. Difficult to put down.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Deanna
  • United States
  • 08-15-17

gorgeous!

beautiful, gorgeous, stirring, lovely!

Imaginative, beautiful storytelling, connecting complex human stories across centuries. Engaging, inspiringly flawed characters living lives of desparation, ambition, and hope. Loved it, hope for more of the same from this author.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent story, writing, characters-everything you want in a big novel

Rachel Kaddish has fulfilled an experienced reader's highest wishes for a very satisfying novel. She has done a remarkable lot of research about life in London in the 1600,, the fate of some Jewish families and rabbis and philosophical writings, and English academic life in the 21st century. Also, she has imagined characters that hold interest in themselves. We go between these different times like a good mystery. But this is a full- bodied novel. Every time I had to put it down, I wanted to go back to it. I first saw this book in a bookstore. I was attracted to the title and to the cover. I hadn't heard of the author nor of the book, but I knew I wanted to read it. I am so very glad I did. Among much else it does, it shines light on the importance of our need to continue to make the world a free, safe place for all women to have equality.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

immaculate

Beautifully written, skillfully narrated, just fascinating. I can't wait to hear more from Rachel Kadish

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling characters question life choices, ethics, religious rules, love and desire

I have listened to this book twice, and will probably listen to it again because I am still learning about the characters. There are three main subjects: an aging professor of 17th century Jewish history, a PHD student starting a dissertation about Shakespeare and his Jewish characters, and a 17th century Portuguese scribe who is the focus of their study. The history scholars discover a cache of documents that provide new insights into the lives of Jews in the last half of turbulent 17th century London. Each of the protagonists faces personal turning points, and has to navigate family history, gender expectations, self doubt, and cultural prejudice and must construct a way forward. I found the 17th century and 21st century history fascinating, ranging from Portugal to Amsterdam to London, and from Israel to London. The writing is dense and rewards rereading. The author gives several examples of strong women and good men, enhancing the novel with characters who add perspective and nuance to the histories. These include a Portuguese servant, real philosophers, a kind and learned rabbi, hide bound rabbis, a Christian playboy and actor, a gay man forced into naval service by his father, young and old librarians, and rival academics, among others.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patricia
  • Oak Harbor, WA, United States
  • 09-10-17

A WOW Book

I love books that capture my mind and heart. I fell in love with Esther - a woman of my own spirit but in 17th century England as a brilliant exiled Sephardic Jewish woman. learned a lot about that time in history and enjoyed the ohilosiohical- theological musings.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Powerful, Riveting, Well-Researched Story!

What did you like best about this story?

The book zig-zags backwards and forwards between the late 17th century and the first years of the present century, carrying with it the stories of its separate well-drawn and empathetic characters who draw the reader in and present a panorama of life, love, God, desire, personal expectation, struggle and fulfillment. The narrative technique which relies heavily on letters works further to bring the story and characters to life.

Any additional comments?

Excellent Narration by Corrie James!

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The narrator mispronounced many of the Hebrew words which spoiled the narration. The story was dragged out

Many Hebrew words were mispronounced. The story was too dragged out. I thought some of the side plots were forced and a bit silly.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Narration intolerable

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I'm only a few chapters in, but I'm returning this. The book itself is wonderful--well-written and intriguing, especially if you enjoy Jewish history. But the British narrator's complete inability to voice the American character is just too hard to listen to. I'll read it on paper instead.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

So slow!

What disappointed you about The Weight of Ink?

The premise and story are interesting, but the storyline evolves very slowly. It is a long book, I am halfway through and I am going to return it because it is slightly torturous.

Would you recommend The Weight of Ink to your friends? Why or why not?

Probably not, because it's so slow.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The reader does a horrible job with the "Jewish" accent of the young, male, American protagonist. She devolved into stereotypes, and he sounds like an 80 year old Jewish man from New York City. That accent doesn't exist outside that aforementioned demographic, and so to hear it from this character was grating.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The idea is great, and it was well-researched. I certainly enjoyed the historical aspect and the juxtaposition of Amsterdam and London in the 17th century.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful