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Books that Inspire


​The Debt of Tamar is a work of historical fiction,  inspired by real people and real events. 


Browse through the books below to learn more about the men and women who inspired the book.


The Journal of Helene Berr


* The published journal of this beautiful young woman was of tremendous help and inspiration to me while writing the portions of my book that took place in France.  It gave me an in-depth understanding of what life was like for a well-to-do, young Jewish person during the Nazi-occupation of France. Several of my characters, including Jacob and Haya, would have been living in a very similar neighborhood and frequenting many of the same  places.


I learned about popular hang-outs, busy boulevards, music shops, coffee houses  and gardens that really existed and were frequented by young people of the day.  The particulars of Haya and Jacob's "outting" were inspired by many of the same activities Helene would engage in, including walks through Luxembourg Gardens and a visit to the Record shop.  Included in the published journal of Helene Berr was a map of the area, which was particularly useful in plotting my characters' day-to-day moves. I also learned about many important historical events,  restrictions that were placed on Jews, and the bombing of The Synagogue de la Victoire in 1941.


I came to know the doubts, the fears, and the hopes of this very courageous, very extraordiary young woman.  It was particularly painful to read this journal, knowing all too well what the end held in store.


The Journal of Helene Berr


By  :  Helene Berr


From the Cover:

Not since The Diary of Anne Frank has there been such a book as this: The joyful but ultimately heartbreaking journal of a young Jewish woman in occupied Paris, now being published for the first time, 63 years after her death in a Nazi concentration camp.On April 7, 1942, Hélène Berr, a 21-year-old Jewish student of English literature at the Sorbonne, took up her pen and started to keep a journal, writing with verve and style about her everyday life in Paris — about her studies, her friends, her growing affection for the “boy with the grey eyes,” about the sun in the dewdrops, and about the effect of the growing restrictions imposed by France’s Nazi occupiers. Berr brought a keen literary sensibility to her writing, a talent that renders the story it relates all the more rich, all the more heartbreaking.The first day Berr has to wear the yellow star on her coat, she writes, “I held my head high and looked people so straight in the eye they turned away. But it’s hard.” More, many more, humiliations were to follow, which she records, now with a view to posterity. She wants the journal to go to her fiancé, who has enrolled with the Free French Forces, as she knows she may not live much longer. She was right. The final entry is dated February 15, 1944, and ends with the chilling words: “Horror! Horror! Horror!” Berr and her family were arrested three weeks later. She went — as was discovered later — on the death march from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen, where she died of typhus in April 1945, within a month of Anne Frank and just days before the liberation of the camp.The journal did eventually reach her fiancé, and for over fifty years it was kept private. In 2002, it was donated to the Memorial of the Shoah in Paris. Before it was first published in France in January 2008, translation rights had already been sold for twelve languages.

The Woman Who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Dona Gracia Nasi

Author: Andree Aelion Brooks

The Woman Who Defied Kings is the first modern, comprehensive biography of Dona Gracia Nasi, an outstanding Jewish international banker during the Renaissance. A courageous leader, she used her wealth and connections to operate an underground railroad that saved hundreds of her fellow Spanish and Portuguese conversos (Jews who had been forced to convert to Catholicism) from the horrors of the Inquisition. Born in Lisbon in 1510, she later moved onto Antwerp, Venice, and Ferrara where she was constantly negotiating with kings and emperors for better conditions for her people. Dona Gracia Nasi helped lead a boycott of the Italian port of Ancona in retaliation for the burning of 23 of her people by the Inquisition - an outrageous act in an era when Jews were more accustomed to appeasement. Finally settling in Constantinople, she persuaded Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to grant her a long-term lease on the Tiberias region of Palestine, where she spearheaded one of the earliest attempts to start an independent state for Jews in Isr'l. Dona Gracia Nasi is equally important to history because she shatters the stereotype of how women, especially Jewish women, conducted their lives during the Renaissance period. Some historians have called her the most important Jewish woman since Biblical times.

Dona Gracia of the House of Nasi:

Author: Cecil Roth

Here is the story of Dona Gracia, one of the most remarkable women in Jewish history. The pride of sixteenth century Jewry, she is acknowledged today for her courageous defense of her people and the promotion of their culture. This JPS classic presents the first full-length biography of Dona Gracia in English. It is an epic drama featuring extraordinary characters who risked their lives for freedom of conscience, playing for high stakes among the palaces and political courts of Renaissance Europe.

Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire

Author: Caroline Finkel

The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest and most influential empires in world history. Its reach extended to three continents and it survived for more than six centuries, but its history is too often colored by the memory of its bloody final throes on the battlefields of World War I. In this magisterial work-the first definitive account written for the general reader-renowned scholar and journalist Caroline Finkel lucidly recounts the epic story of the Ottoman Empire from its origins in the thirteenth century through its destruction in the twentieth.

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