The Third Daughter: A Novel Book Review

History seems to always have a way of teaching the current generation, that is if they are willing to listen.

Talia Carner‘s 2019 novel, The Third Daughter: A Novel, was published last fall. In 1889, Batya is a fourteen year old Jewish girl trying to escape Europe with her family. The many pogroms that have turned her world upside down. Along the way to hopeful freedom, a handsome and wealthy man presents himself. He wants to marry Batya and give her a new life in America.

It seems like a fairy tale ending to what has been a horrific experience. But like many fairy tales, it is nothing but a sham. Batya is sold into prostitution or “white slavery” along with thousands of other young immigrant women in Buenos Aires.

As the years pass, she adjusts to her forced circumstances, but still dreams of the day when she will be reunited with her family. When an opportunity appears to become a Tango dancer, Batya takes it. It is also an opportunity to get justice for herself and the other women forced to earn their living on their backs.

Previous to reading this book, I thought white slavery was a story told to young girls to keep them chained to the patriarchy. To say that I was educated by the novel is an understatement. I thought that I knew almost everything there was to know about Jewish immigration around the turn of the 20th century. I was wrong.

I loved this book. It was well written, entertaining and educational without hitting the reader over the head.

I recommend it.


RIP Jane Austen

203 years ago yesterday, Jane Austen took her last breath.

No one in her time could have predicted that two centuries later, she would be celebrated as a groundbreaking author, an early feminist and an astute observer of humanity.

On the surface, her books follow the predictable path to marriage. But a deeper dive reveals how smart Austen was. Her books are about politics, the foibles of being human, and complications that come with being with others. Her characters (for the most part) are not Lords and Ladies, Generals or Kings/Queens. Her stories are not about war or the adventures of one who is far from home. They are about ordinary people, living ordinary lives.

That I believe, is the reason why she continues to speak to readers. In writing about John and Jane Doe’s of the world, her characters and narratives become timeless and universal.

Wherever she is, I hope she knows how much she is adored and respected.


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