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Our September Author of the Month Book Giveaway
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Fierce praise for this month's Author of the Month:

"Please, for the love of all things holy, read Safekeeping by Jessamyn Hope...Safekeeping  is filled with the things that I love most in books: a time period that is close to my heart, characters that are beautifully dangerous, and a setting that feels incredibly alive in Hope’s hands.”--Buzzfeed

Heads up:  I will be sending out a very unusual email alert tomorrow (apologies for the extra email)-- with a 2-day book giveaway for the book written by the author we'll be talking to during next month's live author chat(Yes, you can enter both giveaways!)

Best,
Pauline
BookMovement Founder & President
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“‘Safekeeping,’ Jessamyn Hope’s luminous, irreverent, and ambitious first novel, shows how a single item — a medieval brooch made by a Jewish artisan for his wife — connects people across time and history. Full of romance, tragedy, betrayal, and the constant reminder that chaos is a driving force in everyone’s story, ‘Safekeeping’ is a wise and memorable debut by a novelist of great talent and originality.”--The Boston Globe
 

A dazzling debut novel about love, loss, and the courage it takes to start over.

It’s 1994 and Adam, a drug addict from New York City, arrives at a kibbutz in Israel with a medieval sapphire brooch. To redress a past crime, he must give the priceless heirloom to a woman his grandfather loved when he was a Holocaust refugee on the kibbutz fifty years earlier. But first, he has to track this mystery woman down—a task that proves more complicated than expected.

On the kibbutz Adam joins other lost souls: Ulya, the ambitious and beautiful Soviet émigrée; Farid, the lovelorn Palestinian farmhand; Claudette, the French Canadian Catholic with OCD; Ofir, the Israeli teenager wounded in a bus bombing; and Ziva, the old Socialist Zionist firebrand who founded the kibbutz. Driven together by love, hostility, hope, and fear, their fates become forever entangled as they each get one last shot at redemption.

In the middle of that fateful summer glows the magnificent brooch with its perilous history spanning three continents and seven centuries. With insight and beauty, Safekeeping tackles that most human of questions: How can we expect to find meaning and happiness when we know that nothing lasts?

 
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4 Questions for Jessamyn Hope, Author of Safekeeping

by M.J. Rose
 
 
In your novel, the kibbutz is very much one of the characters. And a very powerful one. I know you lived in Israel for a time  - did you live on a kibbutz? Can you tell us about that experience and how that shaped you and this novel?


A vivid setting is an important part of a novel for me. Just as love and loss happens to everyone, but each person has their own unique experience of it, so every place has its own history and character, which affects the lives of its inhabitants.
 
In 1994, when I was twenty years old and going through a tough time, I went to live on a relative’s kibbutz. Traditionally a kibbutz was a socialist commune where everybody worked on a farm, ate in a communal dining hall, raised their children together in a “children’s house,” and shared all belongings. Although no character in the novel resembles me, much of what I experienced on the kibbutz made it into the story: the exhaustion of picking fruit, the intoxicating smell of the mint field, the clamor of the dining hall, and the everyday contact with Holocaust survivors, soldiers, and people wounded in terrorist attacks.
 
It’s hard to think of a better setting for a novel than a kibbutz: it has all the tension and gossip found in a small town, but this small town has the most incredible story. People who had narrowly escaped or survived the Holocaust, who had lost everyone and everything they had ever loved, somehow found the strength to start again, to build a radical new kind of society on inhospitable land; and now, in 1994, after all their sacrifice and backbreaking work, that society was falling apart. The story of the kibbutz captures one of the most impressive things about human beings: our ability to pick ourselves up after tragedy and keep walking into an uncertain future.
 


You do a marvelous job with a fascinating plot that spans centuries and a complex and compelling cast, many of whom broke my heart --especially Ziva.  Authors often have particular rituals or methods for creating characters. Do you? And how did you go about working out such a complicated time line?


The kibbutz hosts a fascinating collection of people: old Zionist pioneers; younger, disillusioned kibbutzniks; immigrants from the former Soviet Union; Arab workers; and twenty-something backpackers from Europe and North America.
 
My first goal when creating characters is to leave myself out of them. Although every single character has dreams and weaknesses that I can relate to (and that hopefully readers will relate to as well), it was crucial to give the characters room to breathe, to think and do whatever they would truly think and do, to not be stifled by my own beliefs or by a fear of how some readers might judge them and, by extension, me, the writer.
 
As the characters became fully fledged people who could think for themselves, they often refused to do what I had planned for them, meaning the plot had to be revised many times. Since the novel has six main protagonists and spans several centuries and countries, amending the plot was no small feat. Every change required a careful reweaving of the storylines, making sure each thread was coherent and compelling. The aim was to write a book that was both a character study and a page-turner.
 


At the center of your wonderful novel is a very special 14th century brooch that you've imbued with a great history. I was impressed how  much of the history of the Jews you were able to tell us through the history of that one piece.  I was especially fascinated to learn that jewelry was so important to Jews through the ages because as we were exiled time and time again, small precious objects were easy to take with us. Was the brooch in your novel based on a real piece of jewelry? How did you come across it?  Is there a museum that has similar pieces ​that we can see?
 
When I stared to write about a kibbutz in Israel in 1994, it became apparent that the meaning of the place couldn't be captured without situating it in history. Israel was born out of thousands of years of Jewish persecution and resilience, but how could that sweeping backstory be communicated without several historical tomes? I realized it could be done through three riveting stories about the brooch, beginning with its creation and near destruction in a snowy ghetto in medieval Europe.
 
The brooch is based on a real sapphire brooch that was hidden under a cellar wall by a Jewish goldsmith in 1349, shortly before the townspeople of Erfurt, Germany, massacred all the Jewish inhabitants, whom they blamed for the Black Death. The brooch, along with other jewels, remained hidden for centuries, until 1998, when demolition work unearthed the hoard of brooches, cups, belt buckles, wedding rings, and other love tokens. The Erfurt Treasure was exhibited in Paris, New York, and London,  before it was returned to its hometown, where it’s on permanent display in the oldest synagogue in Europe.


 
Thinking of all the book club readers who are reading this interview, would you put together your ideal book club–made up of authors, living or dead–who you would pick to meet with to discuss your book. And what would you expect them to ask you?
 
Many of my favorite novels tell a personal story set against a sweeping historical one. Often, as is the case with Safekeeping, it’s a love story set against war and social upheaval. There’s Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient; Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind; and Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. It’s exciting and intimidating to imagine these authors seated together on the green couch in my apartment. What I hope they would ask is whether they had inspired me, so that I could say, yes, yes, yes. And thank you.

 

Book Club Giveaway Winners! 

To the winners listed below:  Your books will be shipped to the address in your account info within 30 days. If you have a change in the number of members or address, please email me at Pauline@bookmovement.com

& Don't forget:  Help your fellow book clubs out: Rate & Review the book after you've read it!

 
WISHFUL THINKING

Ellie Kania

Wow U!  Book Club
Waynesboro, VA
10 books
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