BY LIGHT OF HIDDEN CANDLES
MB Publishing is thrilled to announce that we will be releasing the audiobook version of By Light of Hidden Candles in spring 2020. This delightful novel is available in softcover and as an ebook for the Kindle (Kasva Press, October 2017).
In a mud hut in the Jewish Quarter of 16th-century Fez, a dying woman hands her granddaughter a heavy gold ring—and an even heavier secret.
Five hundred years later, Alma Ben-Ami journeys to Madrid to fulfill her ancestor’s dying wish. She has recruited an unlikely research partner: Manuel Aguilar, a young Catholic Spaniard whose beloved priest always warned him about getting too friendly with Jews. As their quest takes them from Greenwich Village to the windswept mountain fortresses of southern Spain, their friendship deepens and threatens to cross boundaries sacred to them both; and what they finally discover in the Spanish archives will force them to confront the truth about who they are and what their faiths mean to them.
At times humorous, at times deeply moving, this beautifully written and meticulously researched book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of Inquisition-era Spain, Sephardic Jews, or falling in love.
“Daniella Levy’s first historical novel, By Light of Hidden Candles, includes many attractive aspects: main characters who transcend our expectations, a mystery originating in Inquisition-era Spain and Morocco, a touch of chaste romance, and a whiff of magical realism. Alma Ben-Ami doesn’t quite fit the stereotype of the contemporary religious Jewish girl in New York: with a healthy dose of sass and spunk, she confidently claims her religious observance while taking risks to forge an independent path and fulfill a mission passed down through the centuries by the women in her family. She partners in this effort with a young Spanish student with his own family mysteries to solve; add to the mix the fact that he is a Catholic considering the priesthood, and the plot complications multiply. Moving back and forth in time throughout the novel, Levy respectfully navigates the sensitivities of religious boundaries, the delicacies of falling in love, the demands of family honor and loyalty, and the complicated history through which the generations of characters in the book travel. She evokes the rich legacy of Sephardic Jewish Spain, leading her young characters to meaningful, life-affirming answers. A well-researched and engaging debut, By Light of Hidden Candles is an enchanting read.”
—Barbara Stark-Nemon, author of multiple award winner Even in Darkness
“Engaging characters, a 500-year-old family mystery, and romance – what more could a reader want? I had a hard time putting it down!”
—Maggie Anton, award-winning author of the Rashi’s Daughters trilogy
“A shiny gem of a novel that seamlessly explores the harrowing history of the Spanish Inquisition with the very contemporary quest of two university students to resolve the mysteries of their families indelibly scarred across centuries by religious persecution. The unexpected twists, roadblocks and triumphs are an inspiration to all amateur genealogists who have sought to unravel their own family sagas.”
—Doreen Carvajal, author of The Forgetting River
“By Light of Hidden Candles . . . blends history, a purpose from the past, and the evolution of a modern relationship into its web of intrigue with a tale that is especially vivid… The blend of historical quest and modern-day confrontation is lively and well done . . . [especially recommended] for audiences who enjoy thought-provoking blends of spiritual examination, interpersonal interactions and growth, history’s effects on the present, and the experiences that bring ancestral history to rest in a compromise that follows two very different new adults in their strange and revealing journey.”
—Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“This debut from author Levy is part history lesson and part love story that spans from the Spanish Inquisition to present-day Manhattan. Levy provides plenty of detail for the history lover about being Jewish in today’s world and over the centuries as well as a sweet and poignant love story for romance fans. A story that is often funny, always intriguing, and at times suspenseful.”
“I’d recommend By Light of Hidden Candles to anyone who enjoys historical romances, gentle mysteries, and a realistic depiction of the challenges of conflicting religious beliefs . . . I sympathised with [Alma’s] conflict even while cheering for the young lovers. And really—who wouldn’t love five hundred years of star-crossed romance and a mystery to solve?”
—Barb Taub, member of the Rosie Amber review team: barbtaub.com
“Entertaining, culturally rich, and fearless in speaking of complex theological questions . . . Alma and Manuel’s in-depth discussions about her Jewish customs, his Catholicism, and where they overlap and differ all feel honest and real. Their humorous banter keeps the pacing brisk . . . The plotline relies on coincidence at times but has an enjoyably satisfying outcome.”
—Sarah Johnson, The Historical Novel Society
“Along with Jewish history and genealogy, lessons learned include the value of charting one’s own course in life, the importance of ethical consistency, and why one must keep a clear sense of values… there is much to like and much to learn in this historical novel.”
—Michal Hoschander Malen, Jewish Book Council
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