By Maggie Anton
I was always taught in Hebrew, and Sunday school in traditional Jewish tradition, Jews don't rely on magic, we rely on prayers to help us. Apparently, it is not so, according to Maggie Anton's research.
I realize this is historical fiction. But, it appears we have been told wrong. It started when I started reading, Alice Hoffman's, Dove Keeper. When I learned there was magic, then. I talked to our local rabbi, and she told me yes, Jews did magic spells, and believed in spirits.
I had a hard time with this. But, then I did do my own research, as well perfect timing. Because that is when, Maggie Anton's novel, Rav Hisda's Daughter, which followed Enchantress.
Well, that is not necessarily true, after the falling of the temple in Jerusalem. Jews were exiled to Babylonia. We were taught talking to g-d by prayers, not magic. Well, I was dumbstruck after reading Rav Hisda's Daughter, and the continuation, Enchantress. I was amazed what I learned what was true, and not true.
I have read all of Rashi's Daughter, and learned about Jewish women during medieval times. I learned so much how women were treated, and how they reacted and lived in Jewish society. This is the same for Rav Hisda's Daughter, and Enchantress. I will tell you this is the best book she has written as far as I can see.
I always wanted to know how women lived during Babylonia Period, after the destruction of the first temple.What life was like during that period for us as Jews. I did not realize that magic, and witches, and sorcery, and magic spells were done during this period like I said.
The book kept me enthralled, and riveting to my seat at the end. I couldn't believe what happened. Maggie Anton is coming to our program in February, and I can't wait to hear what she has to say, about magic spells.. I have a hard time with this part because we were always taught Jews don't believe in magic. We shouldn't believe in Halloween, spirits, and demons, etc. So why were we taught not to. When it clearly was OK in Talmud. I wonder what happened to change that?So, I can't wait till Maggie comes to talk to us.
My thoughts on Enchantress, if you have not read book one. The most important piece is when Hisdadukh is asked who would she marry? That is explained in book one as well as book two. Enchantress is sprinkled with what happened in the first novel. Hisdadukh returns home alone. Rava, who is a torah scholar is explained. He comes back to her parent's home. They eventually marry, and have children.
Hisdadukh wants to continue learning about magic from Em, and her mother. She continues inscribing incantation bowls, to protect women at child birth, and protecting the home. But, then something happens.
There is a powerful witch that tries to destroy Hisdadukh and her family at every turn. The novel continues till Hisdadukh, and Rava grow old together. What I enjoyed was explained how Judaism flourished after this time period.
The book beside being fiction helps you feel, smell, taste, and experience Babylonia. What I mean to say, yes it is a novel. But, I always wondered what life was like as a women during that time. You feel like you are there. There is some fantastic elements that I wonder about, think Harry Potter( that is all I will say). The ending is fantastic, and how she wraps up the story to tell you what happened after the time period. Jews became " Wandering Jews, in Europe( what is known as Ashkenazi).
I have read all of Maggie Anton's novels, Rashi's Daughter( 3 books), and Rav Hisda's Daughter( 2 books). This has to be the best one she has written. I hope that movie rights are bought up. I am not talking about TV, Lifetime. I would love to see this become a motion picture in the movie theaters.
Enchantress makes a wonderful book club book, and a wonderful discussion for a Rosh Hodesh group, and for a Jewish book club. There is a glossary, for names, places and time period.
If you are in the Myrtle Beach area in the beginning of February, and would like to attend please contact me.