Book Review: South of Sepharad: The 1492 Jewish Expulsion from Spain by Eric Z. Wientraub

January 18, 2024

About:

South of Sepharad: The 1492 Jewish Expulsion from Spain by Eric Z. Wientraub is a historical fiction story about a Jewish family being forced to leave Granda after the conquest of Ferdinand and Isabella. Mr. Wientraub is an award-winning writer, this is his first novel.

Book Review: South of Sepharad: The 1492 Jewish Expulsion from Spain by Eric Z. Wientraub
My rating for South of Sepharad4
Buy South of Sepharad from Amazon.com*
More Books by Eric Z. Wientraub *

Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, following the protagonist and his family through the voyage, which I’m sure they didn’t. I thought the book captured well the struggles of both the Jews being expelled, as well as those of the conversos (Jews who chose to convert to Christianity) who were always looked on with suspicion and never accepted.

The characters are well written, three-dimensional with their own internal and external struggles. South of Sepharad by Eric Z. Wientraub places the reader in the middle of the 1492 explosion, and much of what it entailed. Mass migration, refugees, and anti-Semitism are all addressed to give the reader a sense of what is happening.

The book also captures Jewish life and culture in Spain. These Jews were living in the area for generations before the Edict of Expulsion (Alhambra Decree) uprooted their lives and families. This is something that happened to Jews for generations before, and generations after, and can still happen today.

This is an easy read, the concepts explored and the history are easy to understand. Ironically, as the Jews were expelled, the royal couple ushered in Spain’s golden age with the Reconquista, Columbus’ voyages, and the Inquisition. All of which are addressed, or at least mentioned, in the book.

I thought this book was very well researched, the author stayed within the rigid historical timeline while telling a fictional story. He managed to put a lot in a relatively short book and somehow got away with it.

Synopsis:

Vidal ha-Rofeh, a Jewish doctor, finds himself and his family without a home or land after Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand conquered Granda. Not wanting to convert to Catholicism, Vidal and 200 other Jews start a caravan to Fez, across the sea. Along the way, Vidal struggles with his family relationships, as well as worries about his daughter, who converted to Catholicism and stayed behind.

My rating for South of Sepharad – 4
Buy South of Sepharad from Amazon.com*
More Books by Eric Z. Wientraub *

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I got this book for free from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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Summary
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South of Sepharad: The 1492 Jewish Expulsion from Spain by Eric Z. Wientraub
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Wrap Up

South of Sepharad: The 1492 Jewish Expulsion from Spain by Eric Z. Wientraub

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