I honored photo-journalist Ruth Gruber earlier this month on International Women’s Day (March 8th) as part of Women’s History Month. (Here is the link to that posting: https://www.menupause.info/archives/21857 )
I also wanted to review this book during Women’s History Month because the true main character, Raquela, is a great example of a fearless woman in modern history, perhaps not well-known, but worth knowing! I think the book is a tribute to the spirit of women whoi may not be famous, but are instrumental in creating a world where women are equal to men in their accomplishments and deserving of praise.
Raquela is the true story of nurse Raquela Prywes, born in Israel with many generations before her living in (then) Palestine. Ruth Gruber chose Raquela because she represented the history of Israel. When Ruth met Raquela, she knew her search for such as woman was over. As the author writes in the Preface: Five minutes after I met Raquela Prywes (pronounced PRIV-ess) in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, I knew my search was over. Beneath her serenity and composure, I sensed a woman of passion. Love was a word that sprang to mind as we continued to talking—love for her country, for her people, for her family. Hers was a passion for life.
Raquel is a love story, a story of wars, a history lesson on Israel, and a description of a nurse who herself was a witness to history, because as a nurse/midwife she delivered babies in a Holocaust refugee camp, aided injured soldiers in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and also organized hospitals in the 1967 Six-Day War to save the lives of fighters. In referring to Raquela, the back cover states: “Along the way, her own life was a series of triumphs and tragedies mirroring those of the newly formed Jewish state.” Ruth Gruber ‘s choice of Raquela is a perfect example for a woman of Israel! (Published by Open Road, New York, $14.95 soft cover)
What I love about Ruth’s books is that she writes her creative non-fiction like novels, with dialogue and descriptions that could easily be fiction, including humor and sensitivity….. except they are not! She has a wonderful way of telling her stories, perhaps because she herself was an eye-witness to so many historical events, taking wonderful photos along the way, and capturing the hearts of those she helped. For example, her book Haven, about accompanying almost 1000 refugees from dying in Hitler’s Nazi concentration camps (Jews and non-Jews), is such a moving story that I can understand why Ruth Gruber kept in touch with so many of the survivors and that this journey defined her life. (A brief description is noted in the Wikipedia excerpt in the link on her life, above.)
I wish I would have known about Ruth Gruber when she was still alive and well and writing. She has inspired me to be the best I can in whatever way I can, because that is what she did. Her brilliance and compassion shine through every one of her books that I have read.
(As I celebrate my 12 anniversary of blogging Menupause, I wish I could have interviewed Ruth in person for Menupause while she was still alive. I started this in 2006, and she did not die until 2016, so such an interview could have happened. My loss!)