What comes to mind when you hear Palestine and Jerusalem?
I think of conflict, danger and bleakness. Such was my ignorance on this region that these places immediately conjured an image of a dry, barren land punctured by bullets, bombs and sorrow, for all that I knew of Palestine and Jerusalem was through negative news stories. The gorgeous cover of Three Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baehr immediately caught my eye as I browsed through the historical fiction category on Audible but I had hesitated for several months before I bought it. Historical family sagas, especially those about mothers and daughters, appeal to me but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read a story set in rural Palestine and Jerusalem.
As Miriam’s story unfolded, I quickly changed my mind. The Palestine that Miriam inhabited was filled with warmth and vivid landscapes that ranged from brilliant deserts to lush mountain greenery, and the sparkling Dead Sea in Jericho. The Jerusalem she visited was cosmopolitan and dynamic. The effects of World War One changed and shaped her homeland in similar ways to the social transformations that took place in the West. Miriam’s story humanised Palestine and Jerusalem for me, making it much more meaningful than a conflict zone. This fact alone would have made Three Daughters memorable but this novel also moved me to tears, which is a rare occurrence, despite my love of reading.
In particular, Nijmeh’s tragic love incited pity and anger in equal measures as I read her story at a galloping pace. I desperately wanted Nijmeh to be with James. My fists clenched with trepidation as I watched her slip further and further into her cousin’s web of deceit. I wanted to shout, ‘Don’t be a fool, Nijmeh! Your cousin is plotting to destroy you and ensnare James.’ I finished reading Nijmeh’s story in two days, for my heart could not be at peace until I discovered her ultimate fate.
Which novels have swept you away?
Here is a blurb of Three Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baehr from Audible
From the fertile hills of a tiny village near Jerusalem to the elegant townhouses of Georgetown, Three Daughters is a historical saga that chronicles the lives, loves, and secrets of three generations of Palestinian Christian women.
Born in rural Palestine, just before the dawn of the 20th century, Miriam adores her father and is certain his love will protect her, but she soon finds that tradition overrides love. Uprooted by war, Miriam enters a world where the old constraints slip away with thrilling and disastrous results. Miriam’s rebellious daughter, Nadia, is thrilled with the opportunity for a modern life that her elite education provides. But when she falls in love with an outsider, the clan reins her back with a shocking finality. Nijmeh, Nadia’s daughter, is an only child and the path her father, the sheik, sets for her is fraught with difficulties, yet it prepares her for her ultimate journey to America, where she finds her future.
Each woman, in her own time and in her own way, experiences a world in transition through war and social change… and each must stretch the bounds of her loyalty, her courage, and her heart.