Title: The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem
Author: Sarit Yishai-Levi
Publication: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a dazzling novel of mothers and daughters, stories told and untold, and the binds that tie four generations of women.
Gabriela’s mother Luna is the most beautiful woman in all of Jerusalem, though her famed beauty and charm seem to be reserved for everyone but her daughter. Ever since Gabriela can remember, she and Luna have struggled to connect. But when tragedy strikes, Gabriela senses there’s more to her mother than painted nails and lips.
Desperate to understand their relationship, Gabriela pieces together the stories of her family’s previous generations—from Great-Grandmother Mercada the renowned healer, to Grandma Rosa who cleaned houses for the English, to Luna who had the nicest legs in Jerusalem. But as she uncovers shocking secrets, forbidden romances, and the family curse that links the women together, Gabriela must face a past and present far more complex than she ever imagined.
Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swingin’ ’70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change. With great humor and heart, Sarit Yishai-Levi has given us a powerful story of love and forgiveness—and the unexpected and enchanting places we find each.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**
“The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” by Sarit Yishai-Levi is completely outside of my normal wheelhouse of book choices. I don’t usually get into historical fiction and I lean towards things with higher suspense and a little bit more action. However, Yishai-Levi has a magical story-telling sense about her that made this novel appealing and pure artistry. It was like watching her paint a picture in words.
While the story is mainly about Gabriela and her perspective of her family, the story took on aspects of so many members of her family. We got to see generations of her family tree unfold before our very eyes. While I was not necessarily a super fan of the genre of the story, I have to openly admit that the writing style and talent Yishai-Levi demonstrates makes me a believer in her work. Gabriela’s struggle with acceptance from her mother as she feels like a constant outcast is one many people of all nationalities and cultures can relate to. This is a topic specific to this story, but could be taken and put into a story involving a family in the U.S., France, China, etc and you wouldn’t know any difference. Making a story so universal shows the talent by the author and the ability to connect with readers, which is not something I find all authors can do. I did love Gabriela’s character and the description of her surroundings and family members. The visuals allotted to myself as a reader really help with a story so detailed. I loved that.
So while I wouldn’t normally have picked this book for myself, I have to say I’m glad I got the chance to check it out. Sarin Yishai-Levi is a great author with an incredible amount of talent. I wish I could scrape some off and borrow it! Highly recommend for anyone who loves historical fiction or just a really well written book!
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