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Publisher's Summary

Finalist for the Book Club category of the 2016 National Jewish Book Awards.

The number one international best seller The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a dazzling novel of mothers and daughters, stories told and untold, and the ties that bind four generations of women.

Gabriela's mother, Luna, is the most beautiful woman in all of Jerusalem, though her famed beauty and charm seem to be reserved for everyone but her daughter. Ever since Gabriela can remember, she and Luna have struggled to connect. But when tragedy strikes, Gabriela senses there's more to her mother than painted nails and lips.

Desperate to understand their relationship, Gabriela pieces together the stories of her family's previous generations - from Great-Grandmother Mercada the renowned healer, to Grandma Rosa who cleaned houses for the English, to Luna who had the nicest legs in Jerusalem. But as she uncovers shocking secrets, forbidden romances, and the family curse that links the women together, Gabriela must face a past and present far more complex than she ever imagined.

Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swinging '70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change. With great humor and heart, Sarit Yishai-Levi has given us a powerful story of love and forgiveness - and the unexpected and enchanting places we find each.

A Macmillan Audio production from Thomas Dunne Books

©2022 Sarit Yishai-Levi and Anthony Berris (P)2022 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Highly recommended for those who are fascinated by the history of Jerusalem and the Jews that lived and stayed there, as well as for those looking to learn more about the Spaniol community." (Booklist, starred review)

"Fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez will find much to love in The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem. The narrative is lush and rife with scandalous secrets of a passionately opinionated family." (Jewish Journal)

"The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a wonderful read - full of fascinating characters and spanning four generations of Israeli women. As their country struggles through its birth pangs, they struggle through wars, economic and social upheavals, and many losses - both physical and emotional. Compelling and satisfying." (B.A. Shapiro, New York Times best-selling author of The Muralist and The Art Forger)

What listeners say about The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

so much history! love it

I love the history and drama of this book, really well researched. great listen.

1 person found this helpful

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Time travel

Beautifully written family saga about a Sephardic family from pre-state Israel to modern times. For me, it was both a trip down memory lane and brought back ladino words and expressions that had slowly begun to fade as the women who spoke this beautiful language are no longer with us. Highly recommended to anyone interested in immersing themselves in Sephardi culture from the early 20th century forward.

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Mystified by the good reviews

I was hoping for real insight into life in Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire through independence . Instead I found the history skimpy and shallow and the story less than compelling. The writing was really poor, awkward, , full of repetition and many cliches. The mother -daughter relationships were inexplicable, and the characters largely vapid and unsympathetic . The ending was ridiculous. The "beauty queen" was so unidimensional . She was not worth the ink.

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So disappointing

Long, often boring and overwhelmingly sad. Interesting mostly in the historical insights. A family history of rigidity and heartbreak.