Pyre to Fire

Pyre to Fire In Pyre to Fire, Genie Milgrom creates a partly true, partly fictional account of her life and the lives of her ancestors going back centuries The story begins in 1491 in Fermoselle, Spain, a medieval village, inhabited by a combination of Jewish and Catholic people Catalina and Rina Levi are mother and daughter The family is Jewish in a time when it has become dangerous to be Jewish The Spanish Inquisition had begun The king and queen of Spain were sending soldiers from place to place to force the Jewish people to either convert to Catholicism or leave the area The story goes back and forth from the Levis in the 1400s in Spain to Maria, a direct descendant, in Miami in current times Maria is a Catholic girl who begins to feel a pull toward the Jewish religion This feeling leads her to start a search through her family tree in order to discover the origins of the family religion As the story goes on, many sacrifices have to be made in the Levi family and in the village of Fermoselle as the Spanish Inquisitors arrive and force changes The lives of Catalina, her extended family, and her fellow villagers change forever They face many personal losses as they deal with the changes They must make heartbreaking decision and choices As I read the story, I found myself intrigued with what it must have been like to deal with the hostile takeover from one s government due strictly to religion Milgrom painted a vivid picture of the fear and uncertainty the Jewish people must have felt as they were forced to deny their basic beliefs, flee, or even die The author does an excellent job of showing the slow disintegration of the traditions of a religion when it is forced into hiding I am rating this book a 4 I really like the way the author wrote the story It was extremely descriptive She also does a very good job of introducing and explaining Jewish terms and traditions As a non Jewish person, I found myself finishing the book with a much better understanding of the Jewish religion and the Jewish people The book was also easy to read and held my interest the entire time The only negative thing I can say is that there were certain parts of the book that seemed underdeveloped A couple of characters seem to appear out of nowhere and could have used some fleshing out This did not detract from the story in anyway I just feel it would have been enhanced with a bitdetail As I was reading, I could see the personal investment the author had in the story Since it is based on parts of the story of her own family, it made sense that she was deeply invested That added a really personal touch to the story that certainly does not exist in most books If you like a story with a lot of drama and intrigue combined with historical fiction and a personal touch, you would definitely enjoy this novel. A Compelling Work Of Historical Fiction That Engages The Reader To Follow The Story Of A Family From The Burning Pyres Of The Spanish Inquisition To A Young Cuban Catholic Girl In Miami, Florida Whose Soul Was Ablaze With A Desire To Return To Its Rightful Place Among The Jewish People Pyre to Fire by Genie Milgrom The soul never forgets This story follows a soul that moves through 500 years It moves through the Spanish inquisition into little Maria Maria is a young Catholic girl who at first does not understand her feeling of incompleteness She seeks to go back to her Jewish faith Her soul desires to go back to its roots This fact leaves Maria a little unhinged and feeling out of placeGenie Milgrom gives the reader a pleasurable walk through history She does not overload the story with unnecessary and boring historical markers She sticks to her narration She achieves both of these in what can only be termed as a perfect balance to achieve the most appropriate amount of back story to support the events The story is sweet and heartwarming It gives the reader a one of a kind experience That of a soul travelling through time The plot is unusual but very enjoyable The paragraphs are short This is useful and of great value A book that is set in different point sin term needs to be easily digestible The author seems to understand this and has broken it up into short paragraphs that the reader can enjoy She does not go off in a narrating frenzy but rather remains sober throughout the book Her telling of this story is strong and sensible The sentences are not short However, they are very well crafted such that the reader does not lose direction midway It is evident that the thought process that bore this book was very well structured The characters in this look are well developed They are not exactly full dimensional However, the author has given the reader full access to their minds and hearts One is able to see right through each character One is able to understand each character s motivations and battles with their soul This lends the book a very unique quality You might not care much for the story but the character development in this book will keep you glued to it You will want to remain in contact with each character for as long as possible There is an expected change in the nature of dialogue It could be the vocabulary or the grammatical nuance Either way, it is expected that a book that travels through time will exhibit a difference in the way the character interact That is not seen here The author keeps the same nature all through the book The change in font, paragraph, and characters are perhaps the only indicators that the story has jumped time This can be quite disconcerting It might make no difference for some readers but it would be nice if there was even the slightest change in nature and structure of dialogue in the different periods The plot is fresh and interesting The characters are wonderful Pyre to Fire is an exciting literary experience Four stars out of five for this book. Pyre to Fire by Genie Milgram is a historical fiction book based on true events of the author s family history and her life The book begins in the 1400s telling the story of a Jewish village The author mainly spins the tale of Catalina and her family It is during this time the life of the Jewish people is threatened The book captures the turmoil of the Jewish people well The story time jumps to another young woman named Maria, who is a Catholic The reader sees how these two girls lives intersect and are the inverse of one another.The author tells this story amazingly It is captivating, and the pain of the Jewish people comes through and makes you ache for them It is a story that I think many can relate to, even if they are not Jewish because so many are persecuted for their born differences It fits well with the political climate today, and I think it would behoove anyone to read this never to forget the past tragedies that people have faced The Jewish people have again and again faced horrible persecution, and it is detailed to some extent in this novella Not only do we see the struggle of Catalina, her family, and the other Jewish people in this story, but we also see the struggle of Maria, the Cuban Spanish woman She struggles with her faith in Catholicism, it never feeling quite right with her We see her family as she works through pain in her life as well Maria s interest in another religion is an intriguing tidbit of the story as Milgram simultaneously tells the fight of Catalina and having to convert from Judaism to Catholicism It was an interesting comparison to see side by side.The book has some action in it, and it is a little gruesome, but not overly detailed with gore It showed a true strength in the person who inflicted the damage at that time, and it was not something I saw coming That is another aspect of the book I liked, very little of it was predictable What I was able to predict, it was not something that I could fully predict, which is a great part of any book is Milgram s novella is hauntingly beautiful While it is heartbreaking, it is a truth, and part of her family s truth that needs to be told It is thought provoking and has the reader reflect on not only history but some of the current events I am not usually one who likes historical fiction much, but I quite enjoyed this book and found it incredibly important Its relevancy, and the way in which its written enthralls the reader The book does leave you with some unanswered questions, but I think it adds to the book rather than leaving the reader disappointed I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, the study of people, and even psychology because it touches on key points of survival and loss. Pyre to Fire is a historical fiction novel that focuses on Spanish Inquisition that took place in Spain around the 1490s The author, Genie Milgrom, seeks to uncover the hidden history of the Jewish community that lived in the small village of Fermoselle during this time At this time Jews were being forced to either flee their homes and belongings in Spain or convert to Catholicism Inquisitors rode into Jewish communities and used force and violence to get entire villages to convert Anyone seen practicing the Jewish religion after converting to Catholicism was putting themselves and their family at risk of imprisonment, punishment, and even death Fermoselle was seemingly the last village to be taken by force, but knowing that their time was coming, the Levi Family made a plan to pretend to convert to Catholicism before the Inquisitors rode into town The plan was very detailed, and those that went along with it believed that it would allow the Jewish families of the village to keep practicing their religion and traditions in private, branding them as Crypto Jews The novel effectively illustrates the difficulty of this task, and the reader sees how the community of Fermoselle struggled to uphold its tradition in secret and just how that difficulty effected future generations of Jewish descendants.Milgrom s novel provides a unique perspective on the entire Jewish religion s history of persecution that I wasn t aware of before reading the novel It s not a surprise that the Jewish community has suffered persecution and abuse for centuries, and this story seeks to add another layer to their history The main family within the novel are the author s ancestors in real life, and it s clear that the author has put a lot of time, effort, love, and soul into digging up an almost hidden past and sharing it with her audience The fact that there are historical and biographical roots to this story gives it an authenticity that traditional fiction novels just don t have Not once did I find any piece of the story cheesy or unbelievable I saw it as a learning experience, and the story line kept my interest the entire length of the novel I especially enjoyed how the author alternated between the story of the struggle taking place in Fermoselle and the present day character of Maria s struggle with her Catholic faith a struggle that is a direct repercussion of the villagers pretending to convert to Catholicism and having issues with practicing their Jewish traditions Having the character of Maria present almost 500 years later to show how religion and traditions change or are forgotten added to the believability and effectiveness of the novel evenso I only wish that Maria s portion of the novel were lengthier because I enjoyed reading about her religious and personal journey Overall, I would give Pyre to Fire a rating of five out of five stars Milgrom does a fantastic job of going back in time and showing the reader that the soul never forgets. Catalina, a young Jewish woman in the village of Fermoselle in Spain, lives a life much different from the one she always envisioned for herself Hiding their customs from the inquisitors in Spain, she and the rest of her village secretly worship according to Jewish customs after having survived the Spanish Inquisition Forced into Catholicism, Catalina and her family make elaborate plans to keep their traditions in the sincere hope they will be passed from generation to generation despite the best efforts of the brutal inquisitors Unfortunately, time is not on their side and many of the Jewish customs they cherish begin disappearing soon after the Spanish Inquisition of 1492 Maria, a descendant of Catalina and her children, is one of the lucky ones her soul, centuries later is touched by the truth Pyre to Fire, by Genie Milgrom, features dual narratives with characters from the same family separated by many generations Maria, raised in a Catholic home, never feels completely settled into her family s religious practices For her, there were always unanswered questions Her curiosity leads her to investigate her roots, and it is during her travels to Spain that she finds the truth about her Jewish heritage and the pain endured by her ancestors Maria is a highly relatable character Her decision to renounce her own Catholic upbringing and practice Judaism divides her from her family and creates a rift with which many a reader may be able to relate Milgrom has created wonderful parallels between the two storylines As the reader learns of each of Catalina s hardships, Maria s narrative reveals a similar experience from her own life This unique aspect of Milgrom s storytelling keeps readers engaged and emotionally involved in the two women s stories Leon, son of the ill fated inquisitor, is introduced rather late in the book I would like to have seenof his storyline He is a character born of tragedy and the wickedness of history I feel that by tracing his involvement in the lives of Catalina, her family, and their escape across the countryside, the author could have further emphasized the tragedy and long lasting impact of the Inquisition Milgrom s work is rich in its explanations of Jewish traditions The details and the lengths to which Catalina and her village go to maintain the practices of their faith are astounding Milgrom s book has opened my eyes to the Jewish culture and helped me better understand exactly what it means to be devout No matter one s faith, Pyre to Fire will resonate with readers who feel a strong connection to their own beliefs and wish to pass those traditions on to their children and grandchildren.I am giving Pyre to Fire 4 out of 5 stars Readers looking to enrich their knowledge of Judaism and Spanish history will find Milgrom s book a quick read that is not short on history and is explicit in its details of the very real tragedy that shaped the lives of generations of Jewish families.

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  • Paperback
  • Pyre to Fire
  • Genie Milgrom
  • 01 April 2019
  • 9781976594519

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