Incantation by Alice Hoffman

This is a short, luminous novel about a young Spanish girl, Estrella, living in a small town in the late 1500’s. Her family lights candles on Friday nights and will not eat pork and they each have a secret name. As Estrella’s relationship with her best friend begins to disintegrate due mostly to a boy—an issue with teenagers of every century—the shocking persecutions of the Jews nearby escalates in a subtly menacing interlacing of events large and intimate. Hoffman’s prose is, as always, rich and layered—-her mastery of imagery and the magic of the everyday lives of women is superb. This short, heartbreaking novel provides a perfect preview of the power of The Dovekeepers. Although the two books are not directly related they both tell stories of Jewish women in crucial times for their people. Incantation once again demonstrates Hoffman’s talents as an incredibly moving writer.

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