Tag Archives: antisemitism

Review: Goliath’s Head

goliaths2 Goliath’s Head, by Alan Fleishman, is a novel that depicts the oppressing life of being Jewish in Russia during the late 19th century and early 20th century, specifically the pogroms of 1905.

Those pogroms were the precursor to the 1917 revolutions, which ended in CommunistBolshevik control of the country. That the Revolution of 1905 became a defining force in the pogroms, and over 3,000 Jews were killed. They were not necessarily killed by government forces, but by individuals who banded together against them.

Avi Schneider is the main character, and at nine-years of age becomes a hated boy, hated by Viktor Askinov. Viktor’s father is influential, and as the son, he constantly lets Avi know that there will not be repercussions for his tormenting and brutal behavior against Avi. He feels he can do, and get away with, anything he chooses to undertake regarding Avi or any Jew. His father will take care of any situation for him, in his line of thinking.

Avi’s family and all Jews are constantly under repressed circumstances, and forced to live in the Pale of Settlement. They are able to work, but unable to live within city/town limits. Their daily borders are within the Pale. Life and living is restricted, and to survive through the hardships is a struggle. And, if that isn’t enough, the riots against the Jews were a part of daily life, the struggles, hardships and fear ever present every minute of every hour.

Avi matures, marries, has family. Within that realm, he becomes part of a group who try to stop the stronghold of inhumane Antisemitism that is trying to overtake the village he lives in. A plan unfolds. Avi must decide what to do. He is left with two choices, save himself and his family, or fight for his beliefs, his people, his Jewish community.

Goliath’s Head is a compelling and powerful read, and this reader read it straight through. Once I began it, I couldn’t put it down. The story is much more than historical fiction, history that Alan Fleishman brings to life, masterfully. I highly recommend Goliath’s Head to everyone.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Novels

Jewaicious Review – The Welsh Girl

the welsh girl The Welsh Girl, by Peter Ho Davies is an exceptional novel that takes place during World War II. It is both poignant and a love story, yet it has its mystery and intrigue, also.

The setting takes place in a village in the mountains of Wales, where Esther Evans and her farmer father live. The story explores the relationship between land and sheep, shepherd, farmer and sheep, and the intuitive and innate qualities of man and animal, not only to each other, but to the environment.

Esther falls in love with a young German Corporal by the name of Karsten Simmering. Think about the definition of the word “simmering“, because the meaning of his surname is a vital part of his character. I won’t say more, as I will end up divulging too much.

One thing I like about The Welsh Girl is Davies‘ use of analogy and symbolism. Starting with the word “Welsh”, which is in the title, it doesn’t only describe or suggest a location, language or the country of Wales. The word also means “to cheat someone or not pay a debt“, and it can mean “to renege or to break one’s word“. Language is an important aspect within the book.

The novel leads one to ponder many things. What is one’s word, promise or oath? During war people say and do things that they might not ordinarily do. War breeds love and loss, and breeds so many other things within its circumstances and environments. From sheep farming, Rudolph Hess, a German Jew, Welsh pubs, a German POW camp, a German Corporal, and so much more, The “Welsh Girl” pulls it all within its pages.

Davies handles all of this in a well-articulated novel of war and love, loss, redemption and identity. He brings factual elements of history into The Welsh Girl, and brings a sensitivity to the characters, whether they deserve it or not. His brilliance in sweeping out the good and evil within people is insightful.

Davies brings us a sweeping saga of love, loss and redemption under the harsh events of World War II. Bravo to Peter Ho Davies for an excellent story that is filled with detailed word imagery filling all of our senses!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Novels