The Storyteller by Jodi PicoultThe Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller

byJodi Picoult

Paperback | November 5, 2013

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An astonishing novel about redemption and forgiveness from the “amazingly talented writer” (Huffington Post) and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult.

Some stories live forever . . .

Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t.

Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shame­ful secret and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths to which we will go in order to keep the past from dictating the future.
Jodi Picoult was born in Nesconset, New York on May 19, 1966. She received a degree in creative writing from Princeton University in 1987 and a master's degree in education from Harvard University. She published two short stories in Seventeen magazine while still in college. Immediately after graduation, she landed a variety of jobs, r...
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Title:The StorytellerFormat:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 1.2 inPublished:November 5, 2013Publisher:Washington Square PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1476753423

ISBN - 13:9781476753423

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful! My favourite Jodi Picoult novel! Probably her best book.
Date published: 2017-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another slam dunk from Jodi Picoult one of the best books I've read in a while.
Date published: 2017-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perspective One of my favourite novels of all time. It truly makes you feel things. It makes you see that even the cruellest mistakes sometimes are just that... mistakes. Wow.
Date published: 2017-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This is by far my favourite book by Jodi Picoult (and she makes it hard to pick a favourite!). I would recommend this to everyone. I couldn't put the book down until I was done. It makes you happy, sad, frustrated - everything!!!!
Date published: 2017-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jodi Picoult always Delivers! Another amazing book by Jodi Picoult. The way Sage, Minka, and Josephs story intertwines I find a bit far fetched, but still an excellent book. Love Jodi Picoult, and have a couple more of her books to get through :) A joy, always.
Date published: 2017-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book Really good book! This book has an extremely slow start. It took me a while, I would stop reading and switch to another book and then come back to it. But once I got past the first quarter it was amazing. The detail and all the history captured in this book, so well written. Highly recommended, stick through the beginning and the rest is worth the read.
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good another good story from JP.
Date published: 2017-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I Love This Book This book made me cry so much. It's not a light read and it's very easy to get emotionally invested so read with tissues. This is one of my favourite novels from Jodi.
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh Love Picoult but couldn't get through this one
Date published: 2017-05-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A favorite WWII books are not my to go subjects usually, but since it was by one of my favorite writers I gave it a try. I read this book while being challenged in my personnal life. This book gave me perspective and the courage to move on after reading what others might have lived during that war. It entertained me as well. It's amazing how books can play a part in your life sometimes...
Date published: 2017-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All time favourite! I read every book Jodi Picoult writes, and this is my favourite by far! The characters fit together so well and the story flows in a beautiful way with twists and turns to keep you interested. And that ending!! WOW!
Date published: 2017-04-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good I wouldn't say it's my favorite Jodi Picoult novel but it's still really good and a worthwhile read. It's amazing how she continues to come up with new and fresh ideas.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing! Excellent story. I really enjoyed reading it, mostly Minka's story. In this time we can't really fathom how some people survived holocaust but we can't deny it that it didn't happen. It did! If I were Minka, I'd have never recovered from trauma but she survived and she moved on. At the end, Josef part was surprising. I didn't see that coming. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Sage and Leo.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another winner Another great read by Jodi Picoult. Beautifully told and well written. It was difficult to put down.
Date published: 2017-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As Always, Picoult Leaves You Breathless Few books require my full attention - but anything I've read from Picoult needs undivided focus or you'll miss a small, but great detail. She keeps you guessing or trying to figure out the story until the end. The pit I had in my stomach at the end of this book took my breath away - the story line and plot are flawless.
Date published: 2017-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The absolute best of Jodi Picoult I wish I could give this book more than 5 stars. I read it within 2 days, it was difficult to put down. This is by far the most amazing novel Picoult has written. There were a few times I needed to take a break because I was crying so much. I could go on and on about how great this book is.
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from entertaining enjoyed the book but the end was not a surprise
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A compelling WWII story. I found the story very compelling, especially that of the grandmother. The facts are well researched and woven into an interesting story with very humanly flawed characters. I liked the thread of stories being told by the various characters, the story within the story being written by the young Minka prior to and inside the concentration camp, and the torch of storytelling being passed from Minka to her granddaughter, Sage. I did find the ending a little lacking in that it would be evident in an autopsy who had administered the poison. However, it was a very enjoyable read even with the disturbing facts of the Holocaust.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't Put it Down Once again Jodi Picoult has given me another great read to binge on! It's rare that I don't finish one of her books in a day or two!
Date published: 2017-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Fantastic read, the book kept me captivated from beginning to end!
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVE An incredible read with a twist that you won't see coming. I read this book months ago and still think about the characters!
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book ! 5 stars are not enough, this was a GREAT read right up to the last page...
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another Great Picoult Story I was a bit weary to start reading this book because I typically do not like to read anything that has to do with war, but this story was excellent!
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Book This book was fantastic! The story is interesting and full of unexpected twists, making it nearly impossible to put down the book
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from These stories within this stellar cover were spell-binding! In true Picoult fashion, I was entranced with the main character "Sage" and her confidence hiding just below her marked surface. Her ability to turn dough into stories and rolls into twists that made me almost drool. Sage, a simple woman with a sordid past, escaping to shadows and dead ends to avoid complications. The granddaughter of a woman who hid in her own shadow and routines. Like the special spice and chocolate combination oozing through the rolls, the sub plot magically seeped its way into the primary story line, wrapping everything together in a way that had me wanting more. The horror of the Holocaust, the sweetness of revenge and the adventure of finding out who was right or what was worse had Sage finding out more about herself and where she came from in one week than she could find all of her life. Now I just want to know if he knew and could forgive... I do love that the book included a recipe for the deliciously described roll!
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book Jodi Piccoult is an excellent author, all of her books are full of suspense and twists!
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read This was an interesting read, with unexpected twists. I enjoyed not always being able to predict what could happen next
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not enough starts to rate it One of the best books I think I've read in my life and I read a lot. I suppose mainly it is because of the story in a story within a story twist and of course what lies behind it. It is breathtaking, it will make your cry, it will make you think of so many things in life, it will stay with you in your heart and once you put it down it will be hard to stop thinking of it. The story is incredible the way Ms. Picoult weaves it and you don't want it to end.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So many twists! Unpredictable and thought-provoking. This novel was incredibly well written; the story-line was unforgettable.
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Fantastic book;keeps you hooked through the whole story.Definitely worth re-reading
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow!! Reading this book actually made me feel like I was in the war with Minka.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down I have read everyone of her books, and I am never disappointed!
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just wow I love, love, LOVE Jodi Picoult! I know that her books can sometimes be a little formulaic in the sense that they are usually told from more than one perspective and there is also usually a legal component and a moral dilemma. I say if things aren't broken then there is no reason to fix them. Obviously Picoult's books are widely popular and her formula is working. The thing I love about her novels are that they always leave me questioning my morals and what I would do in certain situations. They make me look within and question things that I always thought I had firm opinions on. This book is no different and I honestly think this one may be the best Picoult book yet. This novel is about a young woman named Sage who is of Jewish descent, who makes an unlikely friend in a 90 year old man at a grief counseling group. After forming a friendship this elderly man confesses that he was once a Nazi in the Holocaust and was posted at one of the most brutal concentration camps in history, Auschwitz. Sage is unsure how to proceed, considering her grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. The tale weaves together the stories of Sage, her grandmother and her new friend the Nazi. We all have certain buzzwords that make us read a story and the Holocaust is one of mine. I don't know exactly what that means. Perhaps it makes me a little sick but I really enjoy reading about this time period. I think it's because even though all these horrible things were happening all around you did catch glimpses of just how kind and loving people can be. Within these horrible, unimaginable stories from the past, whether fictional or historical, there is a sense of survival, a sense of banding together and a sense of agency. This story is no different. The sense of agency really shows in this novel. While there wasn't a lot of choice in some of the situations, the characters found a way to survive and ways to help their friends. Without giving too much away I can think of two examples. Both take place when Sage's grandmother is telling her story of surviving the Holocaust. The first is that Sage's grandmother helped her best friend to have a little more food and a little more heat in the middle of winter. While working in the office of an SS officer, she would sneak her friend into the office when the SS officer was our running errands. This really helped her friend and gave her friend a little hope. The second is when the SS officer saves Sage's grandmother from being killed. While still maintaining the facade of being in charge, he orders Sage's grandmother to the infirmary when he knew a high ranking SS officer was visiting the concentration camp. This high ranking officer was known to kill all Jewish people in certain high ranking positions at the camp. He moved Sage's grandmother to save her. I really like how Picoult is able humanize the face of a man, who others would describe as a monster. Don't get me wrong, I do not think that what any of the Nazis did was alright. In fact it was worse than alright; however I do think that a few of the men in the SS joined because they thought they had no other choice. It was either join or be killed. Again, there were many monsters during this horrible time in history. There were also many people who allowed things to go on and did nothing to help the situation. This may have been because they were scared or because they weren't sure what to do but the fact remains that they did nothing to help. Anyhow, I digress; back to the book. Picoult is able to to once again surprise me. She can create characters like no other. She develops each and every character intricately, including the secondary characters. I ate this book up like candy and I couldn't say anything bad about this book. Kudos Jodi for writing about a topic that is not only heartbreaking but also written about often. She brings a new question to the topic and she does so beautifully. Go out and get a copy of this novel as soon as you can.
Date published: 2014-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book A wonderful story, so well told and with typical Picoult ending that keeps you thinking long after you've finished.
Date published: 2014-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love This story, was so incredible. I was crying, smiling, disgusted, ashamed, horrified, enlightened and by the end determined, to never let anyone forget what happened to all those people. I loved this book so much and it reminded me that we cannot let history repeat itself...If we forget what happened, then who's to say it won't happen again?
Date published: 2014-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Storytelling I could not put this novel down! The best I have ready by Picoult to date. Exceptional story telling.
Date published: 2014-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Difficult, harsh, beautiful I’ve struggled writing this review. Between the emotional mess it'd made out of me and the historical importance of its theme, I couldn't quite find the starting point of which I should tackle first. I’ve always thought that Jodi Picoult is like Nicholas Sparks, in a sense that they both have perfected the formula for writing stories of profound love that often left their readers in a soggy, tear-drenched mess. They don't promise happy endings and they don't apologize for not giving them either. Because of that, I tend to run the other direction when I see a new release from either authors. The Storyteller is different though. With equal parts trepidation and morbid curiosity, I picked up the book as soon as it came out. That doesn't mean that I read it as soon as I got home. Had it not been for the fact that this book won the votes for my book club's read of the month, I would've waited even longer to read it. Knowing the core concept of the book only helped me a little bit. I knew it was a story about the Holocaust. I knew it was going to be disturbing. There’s something inherently more explicit when the words of a writer gets digested inside a reader’s mind. The film version pushes an interpretation that somebody else has pictured for its viewers. While a novel’s version is somewhat the same, the reader still holds a certain liberty as to how the images will be conjured in their heads. And this is why I think the Holocaust in Picoult’s words was more jarring than Spielberg’s film. I don't care how great an actor you are; there are just emotions that just can't be conveyed on screen. The Storyteller tells the tale of one scarred heroine who lives an insignificant life. She’s a baker who works at night when the café has shut down. Besides her little world consisting of her Grandmother, her ex-nun of a boss, the barista who talks exclusively in Haiku, and her already married lover, Sage pretty much avoided contact with people as much as she can. She goes to a grief therapy group in the hopes that she’ll get over the guilt of the death of her mother. During one of those sessions, she meets an old man whose one wish is to die. Josef, a former Nazi officer, has lived a very long life when all he ever wanted was to be free from shackles of guilt. He calls it mercy killing; Sage calls it, revenge. These unlikely characters form a bond over the fact that they have people's deaths in their hands. In Josef’s case, hundreds of Jews and in Sage’s, her mother's. Both are searching for forgiveness and acceptance. While it may be easier to give it to Sage, it’s an impossibility for Josef. How do you forgive and forget such heinous crime against humanity? Tortured and murdered – because of their religion. Josef will attempt to wring out your forgiveness and empathy. He will try to make you believe that he is a product of an environment that had no other cause but to go through the unbelievable acts against the Jews. He is old - really old. You might even think that punishing a man who's at the waning part of his life may be fruitless. But Sage and Leo will tell you, as other families that were victimized by this crime, that there is no statute of limitations for murder - especially of this scale. Sage's grandmother was a survivor of the Holocaust. But she refused to tell her story. We will learn toward the end that Josef has purposely sought out her family for reasons that I can't tell you lest you want the book spoiled. He wanted forgiveness from Sage's grandmother - an absolution in behalf of those he's killed. But you will learn that in Judaism, forgiveness cannot be given by those who were only related to the offendee. And since most of the victims has long since died, Josef's absolution may not come in his lifetime. I have overused the word, "difficult" in describing this book but I can't think of another word more appropriate, to be honest. Jodi Picoult described every useless killing with such clarity and precise tone that I spent sometime closing the book if only to breathe. I spent sometime in tears as well and have talked my husband's ear off about what to do with Josef. What would you do? How do you forgive him? Will you forgive him? This thought-provoking novel will make you realize the importance of history and what we should do about it. To be educated, to learn about it is not enough. But to keep history from repeating is much like holding off the flow of water from a burst dam with bare hands. The sad part is, it has happened on too many occasions already (Syria, most recently). Genocide is one of the greatest inexplicable, unjustifiable act against humanity and the thing is, how do you stop hate? Jodi Picoult has shown me a piece of history that no film could ever give justice. This may be a work of fiction but it gave me hope that at a certain point of this dark past, there kindness - though limited - and humanity to be had.
Date published: 2013-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best yet! I enjoy all of Jodi Picoult's books - but I found this one the best yest - absolutely enthralling and very thought-provoking.
Date published: 2013-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Amazing! A page turner. This novel was so beautifully written showing Piccoult's flawless talent. I have found Piccoult's books lately to be rather boring but this book made up for it. Definitely recommend this one.
Date published: 2013-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read I was impressed with this book - however - I must admit that I did find it very confusing for awhile when reading. It seemed to me that there was one too many storylines going on at the same time - yes the font was different - but I was confused. One of the storylines needed to go and go fast. It was not really needed and just added clutter to the entire story. I actually started skipping that one particular storyline (part science fiction) - drove me crazy. Once I got into the book (it look a long time - about 1/2 way through) it was great. Once again Jodi gives you a clue in there as to the ending (which I find extremely frustrating) but it was a good read and well worth the time it took. Bring a box of tissues beside you - you are going to need it. Nicely done.
Date published: 2013-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quite possibly Jodi Picoult's BEST book yet! Did you hear that? It was the sound of my heart bursting, and my soul being divided into a million different pieces. How do I even BEGIN to translate my feelings into coherent words right now!? If there was a time that I needed my emotions to speak through my fingers, right now would be that time. Here goes my weak attempt at telling you all what THIS BOOK did to every part of me: Sage Singer is content to lurk in the shadows. After a car accident that cost her a family member, and left her with a disfigured face, Sage becomes a self-proclaimed loner-going out of her way to shield her emotions, and her physical appearance, from the world. A position as a night-time baker is the ideal job for Sage, allowing her to do what she loves, and the peace and quiet to do it in. Her sole friend is Mary, owner of The Daily Bread Bakery, and an ex-nun with a green thumb. That is, until she strikes up the most unlikely friendship with 92 yr-old Josef Weber, a frequent customer of the bakery, as well as a member of the grief group that Sage attends every week. Josef is a much-loved and respected gem of the community, a former baseball coach, teacher, and everyone's adopted grandfather. He also happens to be a former SS guard from the Nazi Regime. The day he discloses that fact to Sage, he extends the shock by asking her for a favour: to help him die. Josef has had almost an entire lifetime of regret residing in his being, and is ready to be forgiven for the pain he caused. Sage becomes overwhelmed at his request, and asks to be given some time to think about it. The facts, stories, and realizations that come to light after this point are nothing short of amazing-stories that were horrific to their core, but incredibly written through Jodi's words, and out of the mouths of characters that I only grew to love more by the second. It must be said, first of all, that I've read almost every Jodi Picoult book written to date. As I reached about the fourth of fifth one, I began to place myself in a certain mind state before I even started the first page-one that prepared my brain for the usual unfolding of events that seem to occupy all of Jodi's books. Meaning, her books seem to follow a specific formula, which one reader states quite well: "family drama + social issue + court scene + crazy twist at the end = crying and throwing book." (Full article here). Now forget everything I just said before this sentence, because this book broke that mold ENTIRELY. The Storyteller was like NOTHING of Jodi's I have ever read before, at times, I actually forgot that I was reading one of her books. Now, that isn't to say that I don't enjoy her other work, because I definitely do, she's one of my most cherished authors, but this book...was art. It was something beyond the technicalities, and legal jargon, and dramatic plot twists. It was a story, FIRST and foremost, and one that reminded me, page after page, why I fell in love with the printed word to begin with. There are three parts to this book, and instead of the there being a million and one points of view, like some of Jodi's other books, we are given the voice of only four: Sage, Josef, Sage's grandmother Minka, and Leo, the Department of Justice rep. My favourite section of the book was Part 2, in which Minka recounts, in poignant and heart-wrenching detail, her experience before and during her time in the Auschwitz concentration camp. It definitely didn't become my favouite based on the subject matter. Everything being seen, felt and heard through Minka was excruciatingly difficult to read-at times I had to put the book down, for fear that the visions her words painted in my mind would envelope me into a dark hole. But they were raw, and real, and the heart of the entire book. I especially loved the story within Minka's story, the one she creates in her head, and writes in a leather bound journal; a fictitious tale of a young girl who falls in love with a monster. The conclusion of The Storyteller was a completely unexpected. Jodi Picoult is one of the few authors out there, for me, that still has the element of surprise down to an art. I wasn't blown away, which was a good thing, I was humbled, and spent a good few hours reflecting, and working my way backwards through the book in my mind. It was genius, and I really appreciated and respected Jodi's decision to end the book the way she did. If you are not usually a fan of Jodi's work, I beg, no I URGE you to give The Storyteller a chance. There is a social/controversial issue being dealt with, yes, but the lengthy legal scenes, and even a single COURT scene, is nowhere to be found in this book. All you will find within these pages is a story of love, and forgiveness. You might even find a little bit more of yourself...I did.
Date published: 2013-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jodi with no court case! In short: I learned more about WWII in this novel, let alone in my tenth grade history class. Sage Singer is a baker and has no one to go to. She visits a grief / therapy group and stumbled upon a new friend named Josef Webber. As they get acquainted, he asks Sage to kill her because he was a Nazi SS guard. On top of that, Sage's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. The first part of the novel is like an introduction. The second part is Sage's grandmother's experience in the holocaust. So detailed, carefully and thoroughly researched, it is very emotional (please beware of that). The third part is the ending and you will have to read on to find out what happens. Apart from Jodi's other novels, this was the first of hers I have read that has NO court case, unlike her usual storylines that involve such an event. If this is your first Jodi novel, it is phenomenal! Below are my first three Jodi novels I read and loved them all, The Pact is my personal number one favourite. As a storyteller (writer) myself, this novel was also very inspiring for those who want to be just like Jodi too! I recommend this to anyone who also loves historical fiction, something I'm not to fond of but this was a great exception. ~Happy reading! :)
Date published: 2013-03-09

Read from the Book

The Storyteller My father trusted me with the details of his death. “Ania,” he would say, “no whiskey at my funeral. I want the finest blackberry wine. No weeping, mind you. Just dancing. And when they lower me into the ground, I want a fanfare of trumpets, and white butterflies.” A character, that was my father. He was the village baker, and every day, in addition to the loaves he would make for the town, he would create a single roll for me that was as unique as it was delicious: a twist like a princess’s crown, dough mixed with sweet cinnamon and the richest chocolate. The secret ingredient, he said, was his love for me, and this made it taste better than anything else I had ever eaten. We lived on the outskirts of a village so small that everyone knew everyone else by name. Our home was made of river stone, with a thatched roof; the hearth where my father baked heated the entire cottage. I would sit at the kitchen table, shelling peas that I grew in the small garden out back, as my father opened the door of the brick oven and slid the peel inside to take out crusty, round loaves of bread. The red embers glowed, outlining the strong muscles of his back as he sweated through his tunic. “I don’t want a summer funeral, Ania,” he would say. “Make sure instead I die on a cool day, when there’s a nice breeze. Before the birds fly south, so that they can sing for me.” I would pretend to take note of his requests. I didn’t mind the macabre conversation; my father was far too strong for me to believe any of these requests of his would ever come to pass. Some of the others in the village found it strange, the relationship I had with my father, the fact that we could joke about this, but my mother had died when I was an infant and all we had was each other. The trouble started on my eighteenth birthday. At first, it was just the farmers who complained; who would come out to feed their chickens and find only an explosion of bloody feathers in the coop, or a calf nearly turned inside out, flies buzzing around its carcass. “A fox,” said Baruch Beiler, the tax collector, who lived in a mansion that sat at the bottom of the village square like a jewel at the throat of a royal. “Maybe a wildcat. Pay what you owe, and in return, you will be protected.” He came to our cottage one day when we were unprepared for him, and by this I mean we did not manage to barricade the doors and douse the fire and make it seem as if we were not at home. My father was shaping loaves into hearts, as he always did on my birthday, so that the whole town knew it was a special day. Baruch Beiler swept into the kitchen, lifted his gold-tipped cane, and smacked the worktable. Flour rose in a cloud, and when it settled I looked down at the dough between my father’s hands, at that broken heart. “Please,” said my father, who never begged. “I know what I promised. But business has been slow. If you give me just a little more time—” “You’re in default, Emil,” Beiler said. “I hold the lien on this rathole.” He leaned closer. For the first time in my life, I did not think my father invincible. “Because I am a generous man, a magnanimous man, I will give you till the end of the week. But if you don’t come up with the money, well, I can’t say what might happen.” He lifted his cane, sliding it between his hands like a weapon. “There have been so many . . . misfortunes lately.” “It’s why there are so few customers,” I said, my voice small. “People won’t come to market because they fear the animal that’s out there.” Baruch Beiler turned, as if noticing for the first time that I was even present. His eyes raked over me, from my dark hair in its single braid to the leather boots on my feet, whose holes had been repaired with thick patches of flannel. His gaze made me shiver, not in the same way that I felt when Damian, the captain of the guard, watched me walk away in the village square—as if I were cream and he was the cat. No, this was more mercenary. It felt like Baruch Beiler was trying to figure out what I might be worth. He reached over my shoulder to the wire rack where the most recent batch of loaves was cooling, plucked one heart-shaped boule from its shelf, and tucked it beneath his arm. “Collateral,” he pronounced, and he walked out of the cottage, leaving the door wide open simply because he could. My father watched him go, and then shrugged. He grabbed another handful of dough and began to mold it. “Ignore him. He is a little man who casts a big shadow. One day, I will dance a jig on his grave.” Then he turned to me, a smile softening his face. “Which reminds me, Ania. At my funeral, I want a procession. First the children, throwing rose petals. Then the finest ladies, with parasols painted to look like hothouse flowers. Then of course my hearse, drawn by four—no—five snowy horses. And finally, I’d like Baruch Beiler to be at the end of the parade, cleaning up the dung.” He threw back his head and laughed. “Unless, of course, he dies first. Preferably sooner rather than later.” My father trusted me with the details of his death . . . but in the end, I was too late.