cover image The Wayward Moon

The Wayward Moon

Janice Weizman. Yotzeret Publishing (Partners Publishers Group, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-59287-101-8 

In her debut novel, Toronto-born Weizman, who now lives in Israel and is founder and editor of the Ilanot Review, explores Islamic history through crises confronted by women. The action in the story—and there’s lots of it— takes place in the ninth century, mostly in what is now Iraq. The first-person narrator, 17-year-old Rahel Bat Yair, is the daughter of a Jewish physician in Sura, south of Baghdad. Her mother died giving birth to Rahel, and her father raised and educated her. He arranges her marriage and accepts a position as advisor to the governor; the latter action enrages an anti-Semitic member of the governor’s entourage, leading to a bloody confrontation in which the doctor is killed and Rahel slays the murderer. She flees and her subsequent exciting adventures, from a stint in a monastery to an ill-fated love affair, occupy the rest of the book. She eventually finds her way back to the Jewish community in the Galilee area and writes her story. This melodrama holds the reader’s interest as the strong-willed Rahel weathers this series of disasters. (Aug.)