In My Hands Today…

My Mother’s Spice Cupboard: A Journey from Baghdad to Bombay to Bondi – Elana Benjamin

My Mother’s Spice Cupboard is the true story of Elana’s Sephardi Jewish family’s migration from Baghdad to Bombay (now Mumbai) to Sydney.

Unlike most other Australian Jews, her parents were born and grew up in Bombay, and her grandparents were from Iraq, Burma and India. Her father’s family immigrated to Sydney; her mother’s to Los Angeles; both in the 1960s. They married in Sydney and raised their family there, alongside the father’s many brothers and sisters and members of their former Bombay community.

Despite being Jewish, Elana’s upbringing was greatly influenced by the food, language and culture of India, and to a lesser extent, Iraq. ‘My Mother’s Spice Cupboard‘ is the story of what happened to a community which no longer exists, how its members built new lives in a different country, and what it was like to grow up as one of their children.

It’s also about how much things have changed over four generations in one family: Elana’s grandparents’ arranged marriage produced nine children; both her parents grew up within the confines of Bombay’s insular Baghdadi Jewish community; she grew up as a first generation Australian in Sydney; and her children’s lives are underpinned by the differing Jewish traditions of her family and her husband’s family.

In My Hands Today…

Eligible – Curtis Sittenfeld

This version of the Bennet family and Mr. Darcy is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend, neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

In My Hands Today…

Harvard Square – André Aciman

Cambridge, 1977: A Harvard graduate student, a Jew from Egypt, is preparing to become the assimilated American professor he longs to be.

But when he bonds with a brash, charismatic Arab cab driver nicknamed Kalashnikov, he begins to neglect his studies. Together they carouse the bars and cafés of Cambridge, seduce strangers, ridicule “jumbo-ersatz” America, and skinny-dip in Walden Pond.

As final exams approach and the cab driver is threatened with deportation, the grad student faces the decision of his life: whether to cling to his dream of New World assimilation or ditch it all to defend his Old World friend.

In My Hands Today…

The Virgin’s Daughter – Laura Andersen

Since the death of her brother, William, Elizabeth I has ruled England. She’s made the necessary alliances, married Philip of Spain, and produced a successor: her only daughter, Anne Isabella, Princess of Wales.

Elizabeth knows that her beloved Anabel will be a political pawn across Europe unless she can convince Philip to grant her a divorce, freeing him to remarry and give Spain its own heir. But the enemies of England have even greater plans for the princess, a plot that will put Anabel’s very life and the security of the nation in peril.

Only those closest to Elizabeth—her longtime confidante Minuette, her advisor and friend Dominic, and the couple’s grown children—can be trusted to carry forth a most delicate and dangerous mission. Yet, all of the queen’s maneuverings may ultimately prove her undoing.

In My Hands Today…

The White Magic Five and Dime – Steve Hockensmith & Lisa Falco

Much to Alanis McLachlan’s surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona.

Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother’s tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.

With help from a hunky cop and her mother’s live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother’s clients. But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards … and the secrets surrounding her mother’s demise.

In My Hands Today…

The Perfect Child – Lucinda Berry

Christopher and Hannah are a happily married surgeon and nurse with picture-perfect lives. All that’s missing is a child. When Janie, an abandoned six-year-old, turns up at their hospital, Christopher forms an instant connection with her, and he convinces Hannah they should take her home as their own.

But Janie is no ordinary child, and her damaged psyche proves to be more than her new parents were expecting. Janie is fiercely devoted to Christopher, but she acts out in increasingly disturbing ways, directing all her rage at Hannah. Unable to bond with Janie, Hannah is drowning under the pressure, and Christopher refuses to see Janie’s true nature.

Hannah knows that Janie is manipulating Christopher and isolating him from her, despite Hannah’s attempts to bring them all together. But as Janie’s behavior threatens to tear Christopher and Hannah apart, the truth behind Janie’s past may be enough to push them all over the edge.