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Friday, May 8, 2015
This fascinating saga begins in Yemen in 1920. The Jewish
Community there, rarely spoken of, is on the cusp of dramatic change into the modern era. This small village of barely educated simple people live as quietly and traditionally as the Imam will allow them. This story is told through the voice of Adela, a young girl living on the edge of her own tragedy. An Orphan Decree has been made and if her father, who has been ill should meet his death, the Confiscator will have the right to take her away from her family. This haunts Adela day and night. Adela's mother is bitter and cruel, never a kind word to say, her father adores her but cannot protect her from her fate and older brothers taunt her constantly. Finally, it seems luck has changed. Her cousin moves nearby and she is full of confidence, wonder and beauty. Her and Aunt Rachel begin to teach Adela the art of Henna. And so begins Adela's journey to womanhood, to finally be the creator of her own destiny in the Henna House. As women celebrate friendship and sisterhood their futures are painted by this mystical tradition. Eventually, the family is led to their future in a dramatic escape to start new lives in Israel through Operation Magic Carpet. Although much of the first half of this novel is purely background, the writing is pleasant, the history is mesmerizing and ideas of traditional Henna remained with me long after the novel ended.