Virtual Book Club
Monday 7 September, 6.30 pm
The First Mrs Rothschild by Sara Aharoni
In this award-winning historical saga, passionate young lovers in a Jewish ghetto rise to become the foremost financial dynasty in the world.
It is the turn of the eighteenth century in Frankfurt, Germany, and young Gutle and Meir Amschel Rothschild struggle to establish themselves in the cramped and restricted Judengasse. But when Meir’s talents as a novice banker catch the attention of a German prince, Meir is suddenly afforded entrée into the European world of finance and nobility, and the Rothschilds’ lives are changed forever. As proud as Gutle is of her husband’s success, she is also cautious—very much aware of the fact that her husband’s rise is tied to his patrons’ willingness to “see past” his Jewishness. As their family grows, and a dream of fortune comes true, so does their belief that money will ultimately bring the power needed to establish Jewish civil rights.
Told through Gutle’s intimate journals, revealed across decades—from the French Revolution through personal tragedies and triumphs—The First Mrs. Rothschild paints a rich and intimate tapestry of family drama, world-changing history, and one woman’s steadfast strength.
About the author
Sara Aharoni was born in Israel in 1953. She worked as a teacher, educator, and school principal for twenty years. She also spent four years in Lima, Peru, as an educational envoy of the Jewish Agency. Together with her husband, Meir Aharoni, Sara wrote, edited, and published a series of books about Israel, as well as six children’s books. Sara is the author of the bestselling Saltanat’s Love, based on her mother’s life story and the winner of the Book Publishers Association of Israel’s Platinum Prize, and the Steimatzky Prize–winning novel The First Mrs. Rothschild. Her novel Persian Silence won the Book Publishers Association of Israel’s Gold Book Award.
Yardenne Greenspan has an MFA in fiction and translation from Columbia University. In 2011 she received the American Literary Translators Association Fellowship, and in 2014 she was a resident writer and translator at the Ledig House Writers Omi program. Her translation of Some Day, by Shemi Zarhin (New Vessel Press), was chosen for World Literature Today’s 2013 list of notable translations. Her full-length translations also include Tel Aviv Noir, edited by Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron (Akashic Books); Alexandrian Summer by Yitzhak Gormezano Goren (New Vessel Press); and The Secret Book of Kings by Yochi Brandes (St. Martin’s Press). Yardenne blogs for Ploughshares and served as Asymptote’s editor-at-large of Israeli literature. Her writing and translations have appeared in the New Yorker, Haaretz, Guernica, Asymptote, the Massachusetts Review, and Words Without Borders, among other publications.