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THE BOOKS OF RACHEL by [Gross, Joel]
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Length: 448 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Product Description

The Books of Rachel is a fictional microcosm of 500 years of Jewish history. Since the 15th century, in the Cuheno family, the first daughter born to the family is given the name Rachel and a heritage of faith and courage as precious as the family diamond. A saga sweeping from the Spanish Inquisition to the birth of a Jewish homeland.
"Highly recommended."
—Library Journal

About the Author

Gross is a playwright and screenwriter. He received his MA in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is a member of PEN, the Dramatists Guild, Authors Guild, and Writers Guild.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1049 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004ASN9L0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #332,038 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa10643d8) out of 5 stars 179 reviews
89 of 94 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa16cd114) out of 5 stars The Book of Rachels May 29 2006
By Rachel Elaine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Born with the same name, this title grabbed my attention years ago when I read the book at the time it had its original cover art. I love this book and claimed it as one of my favorites after recently re-reading it once again. The author, Joel Gross, spent over a year on the research to write this book, and it definitely shows in the knowledge of the Jewish traditions, persecutions and people of each era he writes about. With tremendous detail, it seems as if Mr. Gross actually lived the lives of each of his characters as well. The vivid prose is sometimes poetic, making the realistic feelings of each character come to life.

"The Books of Rachel" begins with a modern-day Rachel in the Prologue as she is about to marry. As is tradition, she is to be given her birthright, the 500-year old, 60-carat white Cuheno diamond, also known as the Rachel diamond, for it once belonged to her family's Rachels, generations before her.

"The Book of Rachel" is divided into five parts, each one a depiction of the life of a Rachel during her particular time and era. Like the diamond of her namesake, each Rachel is unique, fierce with the fire of conviction and proud of her heritage, possessing the dignity of royalty and the courage of a heroine.

Part One takes place in Spain during 1484 where Rachel Cuheno lives with her family in an esteemed and noble position under protection of the royal court of King Ferdinand, and where she dies during the reign of tortures of the Jewish people and others during the Spanish Inquisition. It is during this time that her brother cut the Cuheno diamond, meant to be hers before her death and later passed to another Rachel born to the male side of the Cuheno family after the prior Rachel had deceased.

Part Two is set in Venice in 1610 where Rachel lives in the Jewish ghetto but through her sister, living as a courtesan in a palace, Rachel fatefully meets a travelling cousin possessing her diamond and joins the wealthy diamond business in Amsterdam.

Part Three is the account of the enlightened, wealthy, admired, brilliant, renegade Rachel of Berlin in 1772 who gave up all privilege of the married lifestyle between the two famed diamond empires for the passionate love that matched her own in another man of unique genius,

In Part Four, set in 1852 Jerusalem, Rachel from France, gives up her privileged lifestyle to dedicate herself to the dreams of her people. Against the wishes of her parents, Rachel travels to Jerusalem and finds her life's purpose there, helping the Jewish settlers make a life for themselves by learning the craft of diamond cutting and becoming a part of her family's business.

Part Five - Kent, England, 1937 - tells of the outspoken, spontaneous Rachel, also born to wealth's privilege who regardless, finds herself a target of anit-Semitism as the Nazi's tentacles reach England. At age 19, Rachel goes to Germany to try to ransom out lives of as many Jewish people as she can with her family's money but is sent to a concentration camp and does not survive.

The Epilogue continues where the Prologue began - with the modern-day Rachel receiving the Cuheno diamond from her father - and as with all of the other parts of this outstanding book, I didn't want it to close.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa16cd360) out of 5 stars Captivating, riveting and proud to be Jewish stories. Oct. 8 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Reliving periods of history through a Jewish woman who stands up for beliefs she may not have known she has, each Rachel proves herself worthy of wearing the legacy of the diamond which is passed only to a "Rachel" through the centuries. From the Spanish Inquisition through modern times, we relive the Antisemitism of our forebearers.
74 of 84 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa16cd6f0) out of 5 stars inquisition too graphic for me March 6 2012
By dopey62 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for my Kindle Fire as I enjoy reading historical Jewish fiction. However, I only got through the first few chapters because I found that the description of the torture in the inquisition scenes too graphic - it stayed with me after putting the book down and not in a good way.
The author's writing style was easy to read and maybe I could have enjoyed the book; however, I have an aversion to reading for enjoyment details of people being tortured. If this doesn't bother you, you might enjoy the book.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa16cd6e4) out of 5 stars truly captivating. an adventure. June 18 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A family diamond is given to a young woman on her wedding day. The diamond has existed through the centuries and traces the women in this family who have possessed the diamond. All of whom are named Rachel.The book is powerful in dealing with the plight of the Jewish nation throughout the centuries and especially Jewish women. It will enlighten you and entertain you into the wee hours of the morning. It is an excellent book.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa16cd804) out of 5 stars A Great Saga March 11 2008
By Julie Merilatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been binging on Jewish history recently (see my review of Exodus by Leon Uris). The Books of Rachel is a saga spanning 500 years of Jewish heritage throughout Europe, tracing the lives of members of a wealthy Jewish family that has been in the diamond industry for centuries. The book opens on Rachel Kane's wedding day, as her father bestows upon her the Cuheno diamond, which has been passed down through the generations to the Rachels of the family. Following this brief prologue are 5 tales of Rachels who have possessed the legendary jewel. The original Rachel is terrorized by the Inquisition in 15th Century Spain. The second Rachel is a Venetian peasant who seeks to redeem sister's reputation and escape the life of the Jewish ghetto in the 1600's. The third Rachel lives an enlightened life in Berlin in the 18th Century until falling in love with a gifted Jewish scholar. The fourth Rachel leaves her home in Paris in 1852 and travels to Jerusalem to use her fortune and influence to help the Jews of the Holy Land. The fifth Rachel is a young noblewoman in pre-World War II England who falls in love with her tormented German cousin. Each story is unique, and each woman is headstrong and challenges convention in a world full of anti-Semitism. The Books of Rachel portray a great sense of what it was like to be Jewish (and a woman) throughout different periods of history and different parts of Europe.