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The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel by Helene…
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The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel (edition 2013)

by Helene Wecker (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,9012742,212 (4.13)349
Chava, a golem brought to life by a disgraced rabbi, and Ahmad, a jinni made of fire, form an unlikely friendship on the streets of New York until a fateful choice changes everything.
Member:acappon
Title:The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel
Authors:Helene Wecker (Author)
Info:Harper (2013), Edition: 1st, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel by Helene Wecker

Recently added byBZSmith, Arina40, Athotep, agh19, Lilye, sarahlizjones, weylyn42, private library, Tzvia, GlenBland
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» See also 349 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 274 (next | show all)
Wexler has a very sure hand with character and the setting of Gilded Age NY. I was immediately drawn in by the fantasy elements, which in the context of the story were completely believable. The relationship between the Jinni and the Golem was good, but there was a disconnect -- why would they feel this magical bond, being such different creatures (fire and earth)? But I really like the way the story wove together with other characters and came to a satisfying (if a little stage-managed) conclusion. ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
I'm really quite amazed at the things this novel does right. It's a detailed and grand scaled historical romance as well as being a delightful hop in magical realism, but I couldn't help make direct connections to [b:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|14201|Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|Susanna Clarke|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1357027589s/14201.jpg|3921305].

But not because many of the ideas are the same. They aren't. What is the same is the length and the attention to historicism and the depth of the real history and especially the depth of the magic. The length of the novel and beautiful prose also has a lot to do with it, as well.

It's basically an immigrant story that becomes an empowerment story with a strong thread of very understated romance. The large set of characters never overwhelms the main two. The woman of Earth and the man of Fire are both magical creatures that find their way at the turn of the last century's New York City. It's really quite delightful.

She was created out of clay and designed with intelligence and curiosity, but she was also designed to be subservient and modest... with an evil strain built in to all golems that make them wish to utterly destroy their creators once they get a taste for blood. He was a wild spirit of fire before he was enslaved and was forced to live in stasis for a thousand years until luck would have him freed... and at loose ends in cold winters that he is unable to escape from.

How beautiful is that? It sounds like the setup for a grand romance. But it isn't. Not really. Theirs is a relationship based on trust and deep friendship, and even when that trust is broken, they forgive and return to each other.

There's even an evil wizard that returns through each life with not just a complicated background but also a complicated inner life. I can't quite call him irredeemable. He does good and and makes beauty. He made the golem, after all. But his nature leads him down very dark pathways, too.

So was this a character novel or a plot-driven one? Both. And wonderfully so. I got engrossed in everything. The journey was a pure delight. :)

I totally recommend for anyone who wants a classy and gorgeous historical romance full of deep magic and iconic archetypal characters that are beautifully drawn. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
This book joins my all time top fifteen with a bang. I'm strictly a fantasy and crime as well as historical non-fiction fan, but the fact that this book contained romance scarcely bothered me. The sheer skill of the writer at keeping you gripped is marvelous. Rabbi cum wizard Schaalman is the most frightening old-man villain I've seen in a long-time. ( )
  SVY | May 25, 2020 |
Really interesting historically, folklore-ly, actionly, and personally. ( )
  dogcopter | Apr 19, 2020 |
Otto Rotfeld wants a golem as a companion, and the kabbalist, Yehudah Schaalman, agrees to make hime one. On the ship to New York, Rotfeld wakes the golem, but shortly after dies on the journey. The golem alone and afraid jumps of the ship to escape attention and walks ashore in New York. As she stumbles around the city she is spotted by the a rabbi, who see her for what she is. He takes her in and explains to her what she is and names her Chava. He starts to show her around New York and teach her to survive in the city at the turn of the century.

Whilst repairing a flask a tinsmith releases a djinni, a creature of fire, who had been trapped there for a millennia. With no recollection of how he had been put there, he decides to stay with the craftsman and assist with his business. He has a natural talent for working metal, and starts to work alongside Arbeely as an apprentice.

As they start to find themselves and develop routines in the city they come across each other purely by chance late one night. They realise that they are unique beings in this mass of humanity, and they have totally different perspectives on the humans around them. They spend nights walking the city, and as their friendship grows they start to depend on each other and their relationship starts to have an effect on there separate circles of friends.

And yet they have a link that almost transcends time. The kabbalist who created Chava has come to New York seeking her, but there is no good intent in his motives, against these ancient creatures.

Wecker has written a fairly good debut novel here, carefully blending a historical novel with characters from the Jewish and Muslim folklores. The character development is good with the two main characters have a balance of flaws and traits, with the secondary characters having solid roles too. They are not only immigrants into this seething mass of humanity, but are part of a separate sub culture within this city, and that comes across very well. I felt that she was also trying to bring these two characters together as an allegory for cultural communication too.

The plot was reasonable, but I thought a touch predictable in some ways. Was tempted to give this four, as it is really nicely written but think 3.5 is the right score.

( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 274 (next | show all)
The title characters of “The Golem and the Jinni” are not the book’s only magic. The story is so inventive, so elegantly written and so well constructed that it’s hard to believe this is a first novel. Clearly, otherworldly forces were involved.
added by karenb | editStar-Tribune, Curt Schleier (Jun 15, 2013)
 
You think a relationship is complicated when a woman is from Venus and a man is from Mars? Trust me, that’s a piece of cake compared with the hurdles that a modest golem and a mercurial jinni face when they fall in love.
 
The sometimes slow pace picks up considerably as the disparate characters decipher the past and try to save the souls variously threatened by the golem and the jinni, as well as by the Jewish conjurer and (surprise) a Syrian wizard. The interplay of loyalties and the struggle to assert reason over emotion keep the pages flipping.
added by karenb | editNew York Times, Susan Cokal (May 16, 2013)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wecker, Heleneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beals, Jesse TarboxCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ljoenes, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruoto, WilliamDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Dedication
For Kareem
First words
The Golem's life began in the hold of a steamship.
Quotations
"A man might desire something for a moment, while a larger part of him rejects it. You'll need to learn to judge people by their actions, not their thoughts."
You must learn how to act according to what people say and do, not what they wish or fear.
These were the world's first people. Everything they did, every action and decision, was entirely new, without precedent. They had no larger society to turn to, no examples of how to behave. They only had the Almighty to tell them right from wrong. And like children, if His commands ran counter to their desires, sometimes they chose not to listen. And then they learned that there are consequences to one's actions.
As the daughter of one of the richest and most prominent families in New York--indeed, in the country--it had been made clear to her, in ways both subtle and overt, that she was expected to little more than simply exist, biding her time and minding her manners until she made a suitable match and continued the family line. Her future unrolled before her like a dreadful tapestry, its pattern set and immutable. There would be a wedding, and then a house somewhere nearby on the avenue, with a nursery for the children that were, of course, mandatory.
"Once a golem develops a taste for destruction," the old rabbi said, "little can stop it save the words that destroy it. Not all golems are as crude or stupid as this one, but all share the same essential nature. They are tools of man, and they are dangerous. Once they have disposed of their enemies they will turn on their masters. They are creatures of last resort. Remember that."
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Chava, a golem brought to life by a disgraced rabbi, and Ahmad, a jinni made of fire, form an unlikely friendship on the streets of New York until a fateful choice changes everything.

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Book description
Haiku summary
Magical beings
Seeking truth, learning goodness
Mud and fire endure

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