Beyond the Ghetto Gates is a historical novel set during the turbulent days of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Italian campaign (1796-97). When French troops occupy the Italian port city of Ancona, freeing the city’s Jews from their repressive ghetto, it unleashes a whirlwind of progressivism and brutal backlash as two very different cultures collide. Mirelle, a young Jewish maiden, must choose between her duty – an arranged marriage to a wealthy Jewish merchant – and her love for a dashing French Catholic soldier. In the meantime, Francesca, a devout Catholic, must decide if she will honor her marriage vows to an abusive and murderous husband. Beyond the Ghetto Gates depicts how the Jews and Catholics of Ancona wrestle with ancient traditions, prejudices, and the challenges of a rapidly changing world.
Beyond the Ghetto Gates will be published by She Writes Press on April 7, 2020.
Advance Praise for Beyond the Ghetto Gates
“What happens when the world turns upside down? What forces are unleashed? In Beyond the Ghetto Gates, Michelle Cameron tells a story of sweeping romance at a moment in history when the world really was turned upside down – Napoleon’s 1797 conquest of Italy. It was a campaign that challenged the established order of nations and the power of the Church and changed forever the life of Italy’s Jews. Napoleon unlocked their ghetto gates. Emancipated them. In this novel, Cameron vividly imagines the impact the events have on a young Jewish woman of Ancona in her search for love and an independent life. Beyond the Ghetto Gates is an intimate tale of love vs. duty, of passion vs obligation, set against the backdrop of epic events. This is a historical novel with deep contemporary relevance.” – Michael Goldfarb, author of Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews From the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance
“Against the backdrop of Napoleon’s invasion of Italy, Michelle Cameron weaves an immersive tale of a young Jewish woman torn between her filial duty and passion for a young Catholic soldier. Her portrait of Jews and Catholics grappling with social upheaval in an 18th century harbor town shines a light on the challenges of nationalism, religion, and bigotry that still plague society today.” – Talia Carner, author of The Third Daughter, Jerusalem Maiden and others
“In this sweeping saga, Michelle Cameron draws a compelling portrait of life in late 18th century Italy when the citizens of war-torn Ancona face the challenges of their world transformed by Napoleon’s liberating army. From the Jews who are suddenly freed from the restrictive confines of the city’s ghetto to the Catholics whose deep devotion is set on fire by a miraculous weeping portrait of the Madonna, Beyond the Ghetto Gates captures the double-edged sword of passion and faith.” – Judith Lindbergh, author of The Thrall’s Tale
“I devoured this engrossing, passionate story of a young Jewish woman in 1796 who wants only to work with her beloved father in his workshop. But even after Napoleon invades Italy, liberates her city and breaks down the ghetto gates, customs still enclose Mirelle both as a Jew and a woman. And outside the gates are waiting the riots of anti-Semitism, tragic loss, and a difficult love.
“The pages of the novel are splashed with brilliant colors between the dark corners of this lost world where ghetto buildings are built so close and high that people cannot see the stars. You will live and breathe this young woman’s struggles to have what she wants and still honor her family until the unexpected last paragraphs and then for a long time after.” – Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camile, The Players: A Novel of the Young Shakespeare, and others