Review Excerpts

Historical Novels Review – February 2008 
“In the 1590s, news reached Italy of the source of Asia’s outstanding jewels. And there begins the tale of Abraham and what happens to him in Pegu, a Burmese kingdom noted for its rubies, sapphires, and spinels… This is a first novel of merit, a quiet and thoughtful read about different kinds of freedoms, about prejudice and about finding oneself, about culture shock and cultural differences. Watching Abraham open out like a flower in the society of Pegu, we too gain insights into what people can become. A book to reread and cherish.”
— Patrika Salmon

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers – Spring 2008
“An immensely satisfying historical novel, Hantover’s debut reveals an unlikely romance between a dour Jewish jewel trader and a young Burmese girl in the late 16th century… A wondrous tale of two very different people who find a way to make a home and a life in each other’s hearts.”

The American Jewish World – January 25, 2008
“In The Jewel Trader of Pegu, author Jeffrey Hantover creates a vivid portrait of life in Southeast Asia of the 16th century, as seen through the eyes of Abraham, a Jewish trader from Venice on a mission to buy gemstones. Abraham relishes the freedom he experiences upon leaving the confines of the ghetto; but there are other codes of conduct—including strange sexual mores—in the Kingdom of Pegu (Burma or Myanmar), which challenge his faith and ethical sense. Abraham’s travails sweep the reader along in this compelling debut novel.”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – January 18, 2008
“Through letters to the family he has left behind in Venice, Abraham, a Jewish gem merchant, shares the adventures he survives and the lessons he learns in the 16th century kingdom of Pegu in Burma. The young widower has traveled there to expand his family’s business, but discovers that the alien culture will also expand everything he thought he knew about life. Beautifully written and expertly researched by an art and antiquities expert, this novel captivates ’til its final page.” – Jane Ramos Trimble

St. Petersburg Times – January 13, 2008
“Part travelogue, part love story, part philosophical discourse on humanity and the nature of faith, all told in a series of letters to a faraway cousin from whom there is never a reply… A lovely piece of work… You’ll have to spend some time getting to know each other before the book begins to give up its secrets, its treasures. And treasures there are. Abraham grows to see past the physical differences of dress, tatoos and piercings, and the cultural differences of faith and marriage, to the common humanity that lies in everyone. His realization unfolds profoundly and beautifully.” – Tammar Stein

BookPage – January 8, 2008
“The novel, Hantover’s first, is a beautiful… story of love overcoming obstacles and the ways in which travel and immersion in another culture can change lives. Readers are treated to a long look at the interior landscape of a man of faith whose world is shaken by the power of unexpected love.” – Sarah White

Booksense Pick – January 2008
“Forget the mysterious and exotic location — this is a book universal in its substance. When 16th-century Jewish trader Abraham goes to Asia he encounters an alien culture but also discovers a world of love and beauty previously unknown. You can call it exquisite, incisive and provocative, but there are really not enough adjectives for this brilliant gem of a novel.” – Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books

Booklist – November 15, 2007
“In 1598, Abraham, a gem merchant, arrives in the Burmese kingdom of Pegu. In letters home to his cousin, he describes a land of lush green jungles, gilded spires, and a dark-skinned people whose superstitions baffle him. Political intrigue remains in the background, and readers shouldn’t expect a grand romantic epic from this slim volume. But they will be swept away by Hantover’s lavish descriptions of an exotic, lost Asian kingdom; the gentle love story; and the tale of one man’s thoughtful journey to his heart’s home.” – Sarah Johnson.

Publishers Weekly – November 5, 2007
“Jewish jewel trader Abraham leaves Venice in 1598 for Pegu, where he is to settle and acquire high-quality gems for the family business. His relationship with a young woman, Mya, expands his views, but… as political unrest grows in the area… Abraham is forced to choose between his feelings for Mya and his certainty that the world does not have a place for their love. Making his fiction debut, Hantover intercuts Abraham’s letters with short chapters from Mya’s point of view with delicacy and grace. He evokes the lush setting and gives clear voice to Abraham’s doubts, fears and passions.”