I bought Ferrer's novel on a whim, after browsing the Xlibris bookstore for historical fiction - which I still do on occasion. The first sentence grabbed my attention: "Macao, 1690. In the flickering candlelight, they looked more like ghouls than men of God." A setting I knew nothing about, and with that opening, I wanted to read more.
Here's an excerpt from the first chapter. My original review follows (from the Historical Novels Review, Issue 25, August 2003).
THE JEWESS OF KAIFENG
Sophie Ferrer, Xlibris, 2003, $20.99, pb, 184pp, 1401065295
This well-written historical adventure/romance set in 17th century Macao and Kaifeng probably won’t find a mainstream publisher due to its unique and "unmarketable" setting. However, I’d love to be proven wrong. In 1690, Father Nicolo Pasio, Jesuit friar and occasional assassin, is given orders to infiltrate the Jewish enclave in the Chinese city of Kaifeng in order to steal its sacred Torah. Because Jews first settled in Kaifeng long before the birth of Christ, their scriptures may contain the most authentic version of the Old Testament in existence. But Nicolo has a secret that he dares not reveal to his Jesuit leaders, and his growing love and respect for Rebecca, a Chinese Jewess who closely guards her people’s heritage, cause him to rethink his loyalties. There’s sufficient action to keep the pages turning, and Ferrer’s characters are more finely drawn than those of most adventure novels. No one could have been more surprised than I to learn that the ancient Jewish settlement of Kaifeng is recorded as historical fact. This is a large-format paperback with small print, slightly more expensive than usual, but I believe it to be worth the money. -- Sarah L. Johnson
I should add, you can buy it at the Xlibris bookstore for $3 less than Amazon, and the author will undoubtedly get more royalties, too.