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****Shylock's Daughter

by Mirjam Pressler

translated and with an afterword by Brian Murdoch

Reviewed June 11, 2002.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2002 (#3, Young Adult Historical Fiction)
Phyllis Fogelman Books, 2001.  Available at Sembach Library (JF PRE).

When I read Daughter of Venice, by Donna Jo Napoli, I didn’t realize that we had another young adult novel set in Venice in the Middle Ages.  I enjoyed that book and found it a good, entertaining read, but this book is much more gripping and is much more powerful.  In Daughter of Venice, the setting takes center stage and you learn about Venice while you read a fun story.  In Shylock’s Daughter, you’ve got a powerful story, and happen to learn about Venice along the way.

Shylock’s Daughter is based on Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, (which I now simply must read) and tells the story from the perspective of his daughter Jessica.  Right from the start, we learn that Jessica, a Jewish girl, is in love with a Christian nobleman.  We know that this will definitely not please her father and read on to see what will happen.

Even if, unlike me, you have read Shakespeare’s play, I think that the perspective given by Mirjam Pressler will give you new insights and will draw you into the minds of the characters.  The story is somewhat melodramatic, but she helps us understand and think about the character’s motivations and leaves us thinking about how their lives will be affected forever after.  An excellent novel.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved. 
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