“The Fruit of Her Hands” – Captivating Summer Read

If you’re looking for an interesting book that takes you away from the here and now, consider “The Fruit of Her Hands: The Story of Shira of Ashkenaz” by Michelle Cameron.

The story follows Shira, raised by her widowed father – a Rabbi – and a Christian nursemaid in 13th century Normandy.  Taking us through multiple generations and across a great swath of geography (great, that is, given travel difficulties at that time), this story is based on the life of Rabbi Meir ben Baruch.

Usually, I’d agree that you can’t tell a book by its cover.   In this case, I am drawn to look at the cover design again and again.  You can take a peek on the author’s website.

Of course, the cover alone wouldn’t have kept me glued to the story.

I was captivated by this first-person narrative that pieces together an intimate picture of one Jewish woman’s life in medieval France and Germany.  I even loved the chapter-intro quotes. In other books, they sometimes seem like placeholders.  Here, they truly resonate. And they’re culled from the Talmud, Psalms, Proverbs, and Chaucer.

 

Childbirth & Relationships

When Shira gave birth, I felt as though I were in the room with her, observing as she wrestled with the superstitions of that era.

How do relationships in the 21st century compare with Shira’s life? Consider this comment:

“Shira and Meir’s is a love story that is refreshingly real with its misunderstandings, hurts, passions, acts of kindness and loyalty.”

Plus  ça change, plus c’est la même chose?

 

Discussion Guide

If you’re thinking of bringing this to your book club, check out these questions to guide your discussion.  There’s something to appeal to many readers — history, interactions between parent and child, romance, and even a villain.

Please share with friends who are book lovers.

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