Book Review: Dona Gracia’s Gold Pendant

Title: Dona Gracia’s Gold Pendant
Author: Michal Aharoni Regev
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Imagine having to guard the secret of your family under the threat of mortal danger

This historical novel is a story of love, jealousy, intrigue, mortal terror – of family secrets, courage, and devotion. It depicts the wide-ranging journey of Doña Gracia Nasi, a wealthy young Jewish widow from a family of forced converts, exiled from Spain in the 16th Century. Doña Gracia’s turbulent history comes to life, from age 12, when she is first told the secret of her forcibly converted family, to her escape from the terrors of the Inquisition in Portugal finally to Constantinople, via London, Antwerp, Venice, Ferrara, Lyon and Saloniki.

The true story of Doña Gracia – forced convert, tycoon, charmer of kings, savior of her people!

A successful businesswoman and visionary in a world in which women had no rights, Doña Gracia risks her life and her immense fortune to save her persecuted people. She powerfully bends kings to her will in an era of flourishing culture and the religious battles between Christians, Jews, and Moslems. Heralded the “Queen of the Jews,” she succeeded in obtaining a royal decree from the Ottoman sultan to settle the city of Tiberias. Meanwhile, her heartbreaking feud with her sister, Brianda, nearly sparked a world war!

In Dona Gracia’s Gold Pendant, main character Dona Gracia Nasi, a wealthy young Jewish widow from a forcibly converted family, shares her life story with the reader. The book starts out with Dona Gracia being barely twelve years old and being told the terrible secrets haunting her family, and follows her as she grows up, flees the terrors of the inquisition in Portugal, and risks everything to save her persecuted people, even the wrath of kings.

This book was downright amazing. I had never heard of Dona Gracia before, but she’s such a charismatic, strong, determined woman that I couldn’t help but be inspired by her strength and courage. The setting was described in great detail, making the historical scenes come to life on the pages. The rich culture, the historical details, all of this gave the book an authentic, plausible feel.

Ideal for fans of historical fiction and strong female protagonists.

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