Rebecca of Salerno: A Novel of Rogue Crusaders, a Jewish Female Physician, and a Murder
She Writes Press. August 2, 2022
This book was inspired by and is a sequel to Sir Walter Scott’s 1820 novel Ivanhoe.
Broken-hearted after fleeing England and her ill-fated love for the Christian knight Ivanhoe, Rebecca discovers the medical school in Salerno, where Jews, Christians, and Moslems—men and women—can study together. (This school actually existed for centuries.) Still in thrall to Ivanhoe, she resists traditional and societal demands on women to wed and bear children, instead building her life as a physician. But the dawn of the thirteenth century brings political changes that threaten the security of Jewish life in the Kingdom of Sicily. When a rabbi is falsely accused of murdering a crusader, Rebecca and Rafael, the man who loves her, throw themselves into pursuing justice and protecting their community.
…a lively classic romance with a modern twist… A life-affirming narrative with deep cultural roots.
– Emily Klenin, Professor Emerita, Dept. of Slavic, East European & Eurasian Languages & Cultures, University of Southern California
A Grandmother’s Love Story
Like so many others, I am horrified by the war in Ukraine. When She Writes Press publisher Brooke Warner announced Stephanie Raffelock’s project to create an anthology to raise money for Ukraine, I immediately decided I had to contribute. Seeing innocent people under attack—losing their homes and possibly their loved ones and even their lives—feels like a nightmare I can’t wake up from.
That’s why I have welcomed the opportunity to do what I can do—write. What came to mind was another story from another war, another innocent faced with persecution who made the decisions she thought best. My essay, a meditation on my maternal grandmother’s life, informs how I feel about the war in Ukraine. How I wish that everyone faced with a difficult choice makes the one that she’ll be able to look back on and not regret. And that, in the future, people will not be forced to make such life-or-death decisions.