InIHere are two novels set in times and places other than our own. In “The Girl from the Garden” by Parnaz Foroutan, an elderly woman pieces together the tragedy of her ancestors’ Iranian Jewish household. When Rakhel married Asher Malacouti, the most prosperous Jewish businessman in the town of Kermanshah, it seems like an ideal match. But, Asher is consumed with the need to have a male child to inherit the business and Rakhel is not able to conceive. What makes this even more difficult to Rakhel is the presence of her sister in-law, who has little trouble getting pregnant. “The Plum Tree” by Ellen Marie Wiseman is a Holocaust feel-good story about a German girl who befriends a Jewish boy. He’s from a well to do family; she’s a maid in his household. But when he taken away, she is moved to try and help. Ernest but sentimental fare from the author of the popular “What She left Behind.”
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Quotable“The precise role of the artist is to illuminate that darkness, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of our purpose, which is to make the world a more human dwelling place.” James Baldwin