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The Weight of Ink

An complex but emotionally rewarding story of two women centuries apart who sacrificed much by choosing a passion of the mind over the heart.


SUMMARY Two women of remarkable intellect are the subject of this monumental and award winning novel set in London in the 1660’s and early 21st-century. Helen Watt, is an ailing historian with the love of Jewish history, right on the verge of retirement. She has just been called to the home of a former student to review a cache of 17th century Jewish documents, discovered during his home renovations. Helen, with the help of Aaron Levy, an embittered and unsympathetic American graduate student, soon realize they have uncovered something stunning. They are in a quest to unlock the secrets of the documents, the identity of the documents scribe, and the meaning of their own lives.

Ester Velasquez, a bright, young immigrant from Amsterdam tirelessly scribes for an aging blind rabbi, despite prohibitions against her doing so. As a result of her work, she learns much from the Rabbi. Her mind is opened to new ideas and self discovery, and she soon longs to do so much more. Despite offers of marriage, Ester staunchly chooses her scholarly work, and she further desires to engage with the brilliant minds of her day, particularly the controversial Dutch philosopher Benedictus de Spinoza. Ester’s story illuminates the standing of Jews in London, the plague (1665) and the Great Fire of London (1666)

REVIEW The Weight of Ink is a deftly woven epic story of self-discovery of two women. Ester is in the beginning of her adult life and looking forward, and Helen is completing her career, looking backwards over her life. Both women compellingly chose to focus their lives on scholarly work over love in spite of traditional roles for women. Two true Bluestocking women! Poignant, moving and thought-provoking, this book will draw you in like a moth to a flame, and leave you amazed. This is undoubtably one of the best books I have read in 2018.

Rachel Kadish’s writing is masterful and absorbing. She effortlessly transports us back and forward across the centuries, with memorable characters that keep you grounded and propel the story. With close to 600 pages or 23 listening hours, this is by no means a light or quick read, but it is well beyond satisfying. In January 2018, The Weight of Ink was named a winner of a 2017 National Jewish Book Award The Audible version of this book narrated by Corrie James was performed with perfection. Publisher Highbridge. Published June 6, 2017.

“Love must be, then, and act of truth-telling, a baring of mind and spirit just as ardent as the baring of the body. Truth and passion were one, and each impossible without the other.”
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