I originally picked my most recent book choice because I thought it was a historical fiction about an educated, forward-thinking feminist from the middle ages who was a catalyst for historical happenings. What I got from The Fruit of Her Hands: The Story of Shira of Ashkenaz was something a little different, something good, but not quite what I expected. The book, written by Michelle Cameron, is more a story or a devoted, educated, albeit conservative wife and mother to whom historical events happen. The major difference being that it takes better writing to keep me interested in the latter type of story. I’m happy to report that I was interested. Granted, there were a few slow spots, but those patches didn’t last too long, and there were enough big historical events to keep the plot moving at a good clip.
The other thing I didn’t expect from the book was a wonderful love story. I loved reading about the love between Shira and her husband Meir. Cameron uses the Hebrew “b’shert*” frequently to describe their destined love, how they were made for one another and suited each other to a T. It’s adorable! I so much enjoyed reading about a marriage instead of reading about a courtship. All too often a novel is all romance with the struggle for the couple to get together then it’s happily ever after. This book, however, was the after, and it was charming.
Actually, their relationship reminded me very much of my parents. The words and phrases Cameron uses to describe how the two characters act toward and think about one another is nearly identical to how my parents act toward one another, and some of the language they use, as well. (And they are about to have their 31st anniversary, too!) Even though it may seem fantastical to some, I believe Cameron may have hit the nail on the head when it comes to this b’shert business.
Something else worth noting: Cameron is actually the main characters’ ancestor. How cool is that?!
*”b’shert – A soul mate. According to the Talmud, it is predestined whom a man will marry before he is born” (Cameron, 430.)