Eliette Abécassis‘s latest novel, Sépharade, deals with what it means to be a young Sephardi woman in contemporary France.
Unlike her previous novels, this one is partly autobiographical. Esther Vital, a young Moroccan Jew who was born in Strasbourg, decides to marry Charles Tolédano – who is also of Moroccan Jewish descent – against her parents’ will
On the eve of the wedding, Esther discovers that the two families were linked in the past and that her union is doomed. She tries to understand what is happening to her and her investigation focuses on different characters in the novel. Through this quest for origins, Eliette Abécassis explores the history of Moroccan Jews with passion and erudition.
While telling the story of Esther Vidal, Eliette Abécassis also explores, with warmth, humor, and passion, the universal dilemma uniting the quest for individual identity with the desire for tradition. Through self-exploration Esther tries to make sense of her multiple identities. Jewish, Sephardi, French, and Alsatian; she feels traditional and modern. She is a loving daughter but wants to break free from her family.
Throughout the novel, Esther’s quest for a personal identity within a strong tradition strongly resonates with the reader’s own questioning.