Jacob's Folly


Jacob’s Folly by Rebecca Miller -371 pages
Book Blurb:
Jacob’s Folly is a rollicking, ingenious, saucy book, brimful of sparkling, unexpected characters, that takes on desire, faith, love, acting—and reincarnation.
In eighteenth-century Paris, Jacob Cerf is a Jew, a peddler of knives, saltcellars, and snuff boxes. Despite a disastrous teenage marriage, he is determined to raise himself up in life, by whatever means he can. More than two hundred years later, Jacob is amazed to find himself reincarnated as a fly in the Long Island suburbs of twenty-first-century America, his new life twisted in ways he could never have imagined. But even the tiniest of insects can influence the turning of the world, and thanks to his arrival, the lives of a reliable volunteer fireman and a young Orthodox Jewish woman nursing a secret ambition will never be the same.
Through the unique lens of Jacob’s consciousness, Rebecca Miller explores change in all its different guises—personal, spiritual, literal. The hold of the past on the present, the power of private hopes and dreams, the collision of fate and freewill: Miller’s world—which is our own, transfigured by her clear gaze and by her sharp, surprising wit—comes brilliantly to life in the pages of this profoundly original novel.
My Review: 4 stars
I really enjoyed this book. It was one of the most creative plots and for that it gains much merit. The adage “a fly on a wall” was literally taken to the pages as Jacob Cerf is reincarnated into a fly 200 years after his death. If you like different stories with a touch of historical fiction (17th century Paris) mixed with current day fiction (modern day NY), then you’ll love this book. The author is quite witty and creates a fascinating character in this little fly. All of the characters and the three main storylines were woven together seamlessly, much like the braided challah and its sweet smell that is mentioned many times throughout the book. Judaism, and living in an orthodox home is a prominent theme and is described in detail from both the historical and current point of views.
Quotes I liked:
- “...that woman was solid as an oak tree. And he, shimmering and rustling in the unpredictable wind that was his destiny, would be her foliage.”

- “I felt this was the behavior expected of me... At first it was an act, but gradually it became my personality.”
Tags: 2013, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Judaic, Magical Realism

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