Genre: Historical Fiction
On-sale: August 28, 2012
Formats: Paperback | ebook
✡ 2013 Gold Medalist in IPPY Awards for Historical Fiction
✡ 2013 Gold Medalist in Midwest Book Awards for Historical Fiction
✡ Nominated for the 2013 ALA Sophie Brody Award
The year is 854. Rahel, a 17-year-old Jewish girl, is preparing to meet her fiancé for the first time. She cannot know that even as she stands observing herself in the mirror, an enemy of her father is making his way to her house. In mere minutes, she will have to flee, leaving behind her fiancé, her home, her possessions, and her identity.
Set in the Golden Age of Islam, Rahel’s journey takes her into the lives of wealthy merchants, Islamic theologians, Christian monks, illicit lovers, and shrewd innkeepers. But when she finds herself drawn, against all convention, to a traveler from the Far West, Rahel must confront the difference between what she once was and who she has become.
ISBN: 9781592871018; On Sale: 8/28/2012; Format: Paperback; Trim size: 6 x 9; Pages: 328; $14.95; BISAC1: FIC014000; BISAC2: FIC046000; BISAC3: FIC000000
Janice Weizman was born in Toronto and moved to Israel at the age of nineteen. She holds a degree in Social Work from Hebrew University as well as a Masters in Creative Writing from Bar-Ilan University, where she founded and continues to act as managing editor of The Ilanot Review, a literary journal affiliated with the program. An interest in the history of the Islamic Empire combined with a desire to explore the untold dramas of women’s lives inspired her to writeThe Wayward Moon. Janice’s short fiction has appeared in various literary journals, including Scribblers on the Roof, Jewish Fiction, and Lilith. She lives in Rehovot, where she is currently at work on a new historical novel. Visit her website at www.janiceweizman.com.
“Weizman brings 9th-Century Babylonia to life so vividly that you can almost smell the jasmine and taste the date cakes.”
Author of the Rashi’s Daughters trilogy and Rav Hisda’s Daughter
“The Wayward Moon is a magnificent piece of historical fiction and a startlingly beautiful portrayal of a strong woman in an era when women were expected to be only a man’s wife and mother to his children.
In a mesmerizing voice, Janice Weizman tells the story of Rahel, a seventeen-year-old Jewish woman living in a city outside Baghdad, circa 851. Rahel grew up without a mother and was raised by her father, a kind physician who is preparing his only daughter for marriage. As Rahel readies to meet her groom for the first time, her father is killed; in a fit of revenge and self-defense, Rahel kills her father’s murderer, a member of a prominent Muslim family. As a Jewish woman wanted for the murder of a Muslim, Rahel knows she can never return to the land of her birth, so with the assistance of her housemaid she runs away.
Disguising herself as a man, Rahel begins a lonely adventure through the deserts of Iraq. She is captured in a slave market and sent to live with a Muslim family as kitchen help. After escaping, Rahel eventually finds refuge in various other places, including a monastery, a remote tavern, and as a housemaid. Suicidal thoughts pervade her mind throughout her travels, but something keeps propelling her forward, including solving the riddle of why her father wanted her to read Antigone, the tragedy written by the Greek philosopher Sophocles. Rahel also realizes that she has strayed far from Judaism and wonders if she can ever return to the traditional life that had been in store for her.
Rahel is a flawed but likeable character. She defies convention over and over again, a testament to her strength as a woman. Having prospered in a sheltered and privileged life as the Jewish daughter of a physician, she is forced to live among strangers while in disguise, and what began as an escape gradually becomes a journey of self-discovery. A constant theme in the book is whether we have the power to alter our destinies.
Weizman’s writing is stellar, and the book is a must-read for fans of historical fiction. A Toronto native, the author lives in Israel and is cofounder of the literary journal Ilanot Review. The Wayward Moon is her first full-length novel.”
Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch, August 30, 2012
“Janice Weizman takes readers back to ninth-century Babylonia in this interesting debut novel. Rahel Bat Yair is the seventeen-year-old daughter of a Jewish physician in Sura, a city south of Baghdad. Her mother died giving birth to her and her father raised and educated her. When he accepts a position as an advisor to the governor, an anti-Semitic member of the governor’s entourage murders him and Rahel is forced to defend herself. After killing the murderer, Rahel flees, leading to many adventures throughout the Islamic, Jewish, and Christian communities between the Tigris and the Euphrates. She spends time in a monastery, has an ill-fated love affair, and eventually finds her way back to the Jewish community in the Galilee. Rahel is a strong, learned woman, determined to survive despite the adversity in her life. The author’s attention to historical detail adds color to an action-packed story that will keep readers turning the pages. Book clubs will enjoy this book. The role of women in ancient societies, arranged marriages, religion, and slavery provide many issues for discussion.”
Jewish Book Council
Review by Barbara M. Bibel
“In her debut novel, Toronto-born Weizman, who now lives in Israel and is founder and editor of the Ilanot Review, explores Islamic history through crises confronted by women. The action in the story—and there’s lots of it— takes place in the ninth century, mostly in what is now Iraq. The first-person narrator, 17-year-old Rahel Bat Yair, is the daughter of a Jewish physician in Sura, south of Baghdad. Her mother died giving birth to Rahel, and her father raised and educated her. He arranges her marriage and accepts a position as advisor to the governor; the latter action enrages an anti-Semitic member of the governor’s entourage, leading to a bloody confrontation in which the doctor is killed and Rahel slays the murderer. She flees and her subsequent exciting adventures, from a stint in a monastery to an ill-fated love affair, occupy the rest of the book. She eventually finds her way back to the Jewish community in the Galilee area and writes her story. This melodrama holds the reader’s interest as the strong-willed Rahel weathers this series of disasters.”
Reviewed on 06/04/2012
“Janice Weizman’s The Wayward Moon introduces readers to a strong, memorable female character who manages to outwit the cruel turns of fate in her life in the 9th century in Iraq. This is a welcome departure from the many novels about European Jewish life. Rahel, the main character, takes the reader on a journey into the lives of Moslems, Christians, and Jews who lived in the area around Baghdad and the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The novel is filled with details about the people who made up the population of this part of the world and the place of Jews and women in general in it.”
Past president, Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL)
Owner, Off the Shelf Library Services
“By blending skillful historical research with excellent storytelling, and psychological insight with adventure, Janice Weizman has fashioned a compelling tale of hope lost and regained. The Wayward Moon is a remarkable debut.”
Dean, School of Creative and Performing Arts
Humber College, Toronto, Ontario
Author of Gratitude, winner of the Canadian National Jewish Book Award and the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Fiction
“Janice Weizman takes us on a captivating journey of a young woman’s self-discovery. Rahel becomes the reluctant master of her own fate with the opportunity to determine her life’s path. And yet we are left to wonder whether anyone really has the freedom to choose one’s destiny. With Weizman’s meticulous attention to mood and language, we are transported to an ancient time and place that is both fascinating and vivid. This is a beautiful adventure that unravels with delicate precision.”
Award-winning author of Restitution: A Family’s Fight for Their Heritage Lost in the Holocaust