The Book of Splendor
A historical novel about the most unlikely of lovers, interwoven with the mysticism of the Jewish occult.
Frances Sherwood brings to life the experience of the Jewish community during a period of oppression and rebirth. Set in seventeenth-century Prague, The Book of Splendor is an adventure-filled romance stocked with court intrigue and political tension, including the machinations of the rival Ottoman Empire, the religious controversies of Protestantism, and the constant threat of violence to the Jewish community. At the heart of the novel is Rochel, a bastard seamstress who escapes poverty through an arranged marriage to the tailor Zev, but falls in love with Yossel, the Golem created by Rabbi Loew to protect the Jewish community. Meanwhile, Emperor Rudolph II puts the safety of all Prague at risk in his mad bid for an elixir of immortality. The Book of Splendor is an epic tale reminiscent of Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, and a love story as unlikely as Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring. Reading group guide included.
- July 2003
- 5.5 × 8.3 in
/ 368 pages
- Territory Rights: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.
Endorsements & Reviews
“Starred Review. A provocative, gripping novel.” — Booklist
“A many-splendored book indeed: Frances Sherwood's historical savvy and narrative chutzpah bring to life the Prague of 1600, from its Golems and Wonder-Rabbis to the last of the Holy Roman Emperors and his court—all woven into a love story as altogether convincing and affecting as it is improbable.” — John Barth
“There is no end to the superlatives to apply to this mesmerizing novel....A truly remarkable achievement.” — Scott Turow
“The Book of Splendor is not just a title but truth in labeling...stunning.... [Sherwood] is the rare writer whose work goes far beyond what we think of as historical novels.” — New York Times
“This is a book with splendor to spare.” — Carolyn See, Washington Post
“Richly textured.” — Los Angeles Times
“Starred Review. Sherwood's supple prose and her ability to integrate historical background into a timely and resonant narrative should give this eloquent literary effort popular appeal.” — Publishers Weekly
“This exuberant book surprised, stunned, and captivated me. 'Historical novel' doesn't begin to describe what it is; Sherwood's contemplations and manipulations of history (and of the novel, for that matter) are wholly original. She seesaws between the sacred and the profane, the fanciful and the earthbound, but she always maintains her balance. The Book of Splendor is deeply satisfying.” — Valerie Sayers, author of Brain Fever
“Frances Sherwood has called to life a remarkable ensemble in The Book of Splendor, from the struggling citizens of the Judenstadt to the alchemists intent on securing immortality for a mad emperor. This is a wonderful book about the meaning of life: what it means to create and what it means to live honorably in the world.” — Sheri Holman, author of The Dress Lodger
“In glorious color, Frances Sherwood brings to life a splendid cast of characters from the Habsburg empire at the dawn of the seventeenth century. She also, miraculously, fully brings to life a man made of mud; Rabbi Loew's golem of Prague is depicted here with a piercing love. The Book of Splendor is thrilling and terrifying and very beautiful.” — Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of Hester Among the Ruins
Also by Frances Sherwood