The convert

Stefan Hertmans

Book - 2019

"The Middle Ages have just begun when Vigdis Adelaïs, a young woman from a prosperous French family, falls in love with David Todros, a student at the city's yeshiva, and the son of a rabbi. To be together, they must flee their city, Vigdis renouncing a life of privilege and comfort. Pursued by her father's knights and in constant danger of betrayal, the lovers embark on a dangerous journey to the south of France, only to find their brief happiness destroyed by the vicious wave o...f anti-Semitism that sweeps Europe with the onset of the First Crusade. Stefan Hertmans meticulously retraces Vigdis's epic journey, first across France and then beyond, to Palermo and the Middle East. Blending fact and fiction, and with immense imagination and stylistic ingenuity, he painstakingly imagines her terrible trials, bringing the Middle Ages to life, and illuminating a chaotic world of passion, hate, love, and death"--

Saved in:

1st Floor Show me where

FICTION/Hertmans Stefan
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/Hertmans Stefan Checked In
Subjects
Genres
Love stories
Romance fiction
Published
New York : Pantheon Books [2019]
Edition
First American edition
Language
English
Dutch
Item Description
Color map on liner papers.
"A novel" -- Cover.
"Originally published in the Netherlands as De bekeerlinge by De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, in 2016. Copyright © 2016 by Stefan Hertman." -- Title page verso.
"This translation originally published in paperback in Great Britain by Harvill Secker, an imprint of Vintage Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House Ltd., London, in 2019." -- Title page verso.
Physical Description
292 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
ISBN
9781524747084
1524747084
Main Author
Stefan Hertmans (author)
Other Authors
David McKay, 1973- (translator)
  • Mount Jupiter
  • Rouen
  • Flight
  • Narbonne
  • Moniou
  • The crossing
  • Cairo
  • Nájera
  • Cambridge
  • The treasure of Monieux.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Reading award-winning Flemish author Hertmans' (War & Turpentine, 2016) literary latest is akin to engaging with a passionate conversationalist about his or her research into an engrossing topic. Mining a historical record that offered a basic outline of a medieval life, Hertmans conjures Vigdis Adelaïs, Christian daughter of a wealthy eleventh-century French family. She converted to Judaism for love of a prominent rabbi's son then absconded with him across dangerous terrain, pursued by her father's knights. The couple eventually settled in the small village where, centuries later, Hertmans would come to live. Hertmans has a unique voice, and his personal connection fosters a singular depth and engagement of author with subject. The novel is a storyteller's tapestry: Hertmans' vivid modern travelogue traces what remains of the historical Vigdis, which he skillfully weaves into his fictional imaginings of Vigdis' life. The horrors of anti-Semitism and the unintended consequences of the First Crusade are pitilessly portrayed, resulting in a story that is tragic and harrowing, yet beautifully told, with an ambience that is fully realized for both the eleventh century and our own. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This commanding historical novel from Flemish author Hertmans (War and Turpentine) follows a Jewish convert during an unstable moment in Medieval Europe. Vigdis Adelais, a 17-year-old Christian woman from a prominent Norman family in Rouen, France, falls in love with David Todros, a Jewish student at a local yeshiva, in 1088. Risking grave penalty and dodging knights sent by her family to find her, Vigdis flees with David to his family's home in Southern France. After converting, she struggles to learn Jewish customs. Her husband, who calls her Hamoutal, masks her Christian origins by telling a rabbi that her real name is Sarah. After a new pope preaches the first crusade in 1096, knights perpetuate a gruesome pogrom in their small mountain town, killing David and abducting two of their children. Hamoutal, broken by grief, embarks on a perilous quest to find her children that has tragic consequences. The vivid descriptions of the era and Hamoutal's deteriorating mental state mostly excuse Hertmans's distracting breaks in the fictional narrative with chapters of his own travelogue ("I drive out of Brussels in the afternoon"). The novel will satisfy readers willing to be swept away into a starkly different time. (Feb.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Abandoning her privileged life after falling in love with a Jewish man, a Medieval Christian noblewoman embarks on a dangerous journey to southern France, where their brief happiness is upended by the vicious anti-Semitism of the First Crusade.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"The Middle Ages have just begun when Vigdis Adelaèis, a young woman from a prosperous French family, falls in love with David Todros, a student at the city's yeshiva, and the son of a rabbi. To be together, they must flee their city, Vigdis renouncing alife of privilege and comfort. Pursued by her father's knights and in constant danger of betrayal, the lovers embark on a dangerous journey to the south of France, only to find their brief happiness destroyed by the vicious wave of anti-Semitism that sweeps Europe with the onset of the First Crusade. Stefan Hertmans meticulously retraces Vigdis's epic journey, first across France and then beyond, to Palermo and the Middle East. Blending fact and fiction, and with immense imagination and stylistic ingenuity, he painstakingly imagines her terrible trials, bringing the Middle Ages to life, and illuminating a chaotic world of passion, hate, love, and death"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Finalist for the 2020 National Jewish Book AwardsIn this dazzling work of historical fiction, the Man Booker International–long-listed author of War and Turpentine reconstructs the tragic story of a medieval noblewoman who leaves her home and family for the love of a Jewish boy.   In eleventh-century France, Vigdis Adelaïs, a young woman from a prosperous Christian family, falls in love with David Todros, a rabbi’s son and yeshiva student. To be together, the couple must flee their city, and Vigdis must renounce her life of privilege and comfort. Pursued by her father’s knights and in constant danger of betrayal, the lovers embark on a dangerous journey to the south of France, only to find their brief happiness destroyed by the vicious wave of anti-Semitism sweeping through Europe with the onset of the First Crusade.   What begins as a story of forbidden love evolves into a globe-trotting trek spanning continents, as Vigdis undertakes an epic journey to Cairo and back, enduring the unimaginable in hopes of finding her lost children.   Based on two fragments from the Cairo Genizah—a repository of more than three hundred thousand manuscripts and documents stored in the upper chamber of a synagogue in Old Cairo—Stefan Hertmans has pieced together a remarkable work of imagination, re-creating the tragic story of two star-crossed lovers whose steps he retraces almost a millennium later. Blending fact and fiction, and with immense imagination and stylistic ingenuity, Hertmans painstakingly depicts Vigdis’s terrible trials, bringing the Middle Ages to life and illuminating a chaotic world of love and hate.