THE LIVES OF RACHEL by Joel Gross

THE LIVES OF RACHEL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another parade of billboard-sized Jewish heroines from the author of The Books of Rachel (1979)--with plenty of gruesome tortures and executions, jolts of orgy sex, settings juicy with C. B. de Mille atmosphere, and towering heroics. In 168 B.C. Judea, when mad King Antiochus IV marches in to crush Judaism and profane the Temple, the first Rachel, married to scribe/scholar Saul, refuses to betray her husband (who has killed the murderous general Phillip the Phrygian); holding to sacred truths, she dies. One of her descendants, Rachel of 63 B.C. Rome, is carried off as a slave in one of Pompey's sweeps, becoming a sex object for General Manilius--and a favored pawn in the political/marital battle between the general and his wife (who's studying Hebrew scripture); so, while her brother David awaits execution for an attempt to kill Manilius, Rachel kills the general during one of his sexual extravaganzas. . . with a silver tray. Then: on to 488 A.D. Britain, where another Rachel descendant/namesake is deeply uneasy about the rash of conversions to Christianity sweeping the land; but the man who loves her, the great warrior Artorius, couldn't care less about religion--until his Fate declares for commitment and he and Rachel must part. (He sadly rides off, waving. . . yes, folks. . . Excalibur!) Next: in a settlement near 756 A.D. Constantinople, the black plague strikes--and Rachel the healer teaches her fiancÉ, a great doctor called in by a double-dealing bishop, that one must treat patients with ""senses open to the spirit that moves all creatures."" And finally, when the Crusades come to Mainz in 1096, with its murdering hordes bent on robbing and killing the Jews, the spiritual stamina of Rachel V--who refuses conversion--moves a gentile aristocrat/lover to aid her in escaping. Framed by the device of a pregnant modern Rachel at the Wailing Wall, slipping out-of-body to mingle with her ancestral namesakes: operatic and corny, with message in tuba brass--but showy enough to please a built-in audience.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1984
ISBN: 0595345271
Publisher: New American Library