3 out of 4 stars
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I love books that have great depth to them and The Vision of Jenny Merkus: A Historical Biographical Novel Featuring the Life and Struggles of a Female Warrior and Philanthropist, by Hadassa Mor, did not disappoint. Mor set the scene with Jenny as a 36-year-old woman who gains a vision from God. Jenny interprets the vision to mean that she should build Jesus Christ a house in Jerusalem to host his second coming during the end times. When God calls you, you move. Jenny traveled to Jerusalem on her own which was completely contrary to European society values at that time. Jenny visited many of the places that the Bible talks about and it was amazing to read about her impressions of them. It made me want to travel to Israel to experience the awe and wonder she felt.
Quickly, the book jumps back to Jenny’s very lonely childhood filled with loss. What level of influence our past has on our present decisions is one of the questions that the author opens for the reader to ponder. Other issues that arise as Jenny moves on her journey into adulthood and throughout, are: sexual orientation, family dynamics, faith and society or faith versus society, natural instinct versus environmental influence, and more.
Jenny had trouble focusing on one thing at a time. She had so many goals and ambitions it caused one to wonder if and how she would be able to accomplish her initial mandate of building a house for Jesus. It was suspenseful to follow her as she battled against political and cultural barriers to her plan. It was also exciting to follow her as she fearlessly charged into war to help free the Israeli people from the tyranny of the Turks. This woman led a brilliantly inspirational life, one that was real, relatable, and yet, also fantastic. With suspense, big life questions and interesting historical information, Hadassa Mor keeps the reader interested to the very end. Will Jenny complete her mission? Will she fall in love? Will she succeed in the man’s world of the battlefield? Will she blaze the trail for the suffragist movement? All these questions and more, are answered throughout the plot of the book.
What I did not like about this book was that Hadassa Mor seemed to have two divergent plans. Instead of cohesively sewing both types of writing into the story, it seemed she was sometimes writing a historical biography without adequate bibliographical evidence for the information; and sometimes writing a novel whose story elements – dialogue, plotline flow, character developments and interactions – were not the most successful.
I think any woman would benefit from reading this book. It would be a wonderful addition to a book club list with its myriad of levels, themes, questions and psychological/sociological patterns of interest. I do not know if men would enjoy this book, unless they appreciate a female heroine conquering social stereotypes. It definitely has mature subject matter that would not be appropriate for people younger than 18.
I give The Vision of Jenny Merkus a 3 out of 4 star rating. It had many spelling and grammatical errors that got more numerous towards the end of the book, causing me to believe it may not have been professionally edited. Also, I disliked how it jumped from novel platform to biography platform, instead of cohesively sewing biographical information into the novel. I loved the story. I resonated with many of the issues that Jenny had to deal with in life. I also loved learning about the things she attempted to accomplish that I may never do in my life. She was an inspirational Christian and human being.
The Vision of Jenny Merkus
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