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 last 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.
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Praise for By Light of Hidden Candles
“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
“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… 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
“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.”
– D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“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.”
– Lisa Jordan, Library Journal
“Entertaining, culturally rich, and fearless in speaking of complex theological questions.”
– Sarah Johnson, Historical Novels Review
“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
“[By Light of Hidden Candles] succeeds in making the history of 15th-century Iberian Jewish history both real and completely relatable… an altogether pleasant read that deftly avoids the heaviness of some historical fiction.”
– Rivkah Lambert Adler, The Jerusalem Post
“By Light of Hidden Candles, a novel that spans continents and cultures, is a most enjoyable read. It makes the reader cry and laugh and gives the reader a great deal of food for thought. I wish I had read it as a teenager.”
– Ruth Fogelman, award-winning poet, creative writing teacher, and author of several poetry collections
“Daniella Levy has woven together a love story set against genuine faith, the rigors and mystery of academic research, and the long-term effects of the Inquisition on families… it elevates romance, gives dignity to religious faith, and makes for absorbing and enjoyable reading. Lori Felipe-Barkin’s narration… is excellent… [The characters] have distinct accents and tones and Felipe-Barkin easily switches between them. She captures well the emotions of the characters and the many humorous parts of the story. This made for a lively and credible listening experience.”
– Brenda Daniels, Readers’ Favorite, 5 Stars (Audiobook Review)