More One Book, One Jewish Community

One Book, One Jewish Community
Kickoff Conversation and Book Signing
Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 3 PM
Adath Israel
250 N. Highland Avenue, Merion Station , PA

We are once again pleased and proud to be partnering with Lynn Rosen, of Open Book Bookstore, who will be
interviewing Lauren Belfer at the event.  Synagogues are encouraged to contact Lynn to order copies
of the book at a special synagogue rate.


More about And After the Fire.

The unexpected discovery of a shocking Meisterwerk is the inspiration behind New York Times bestselling author Lauren Belfer’s atmospheric, enthrallingly suspenseful novel, AND AFTER THE FIRE . Belfer explains, “I was taking a class on Johann Sebastian Bach and I thought, what if I found a work of art stolen during World War II—not a painting, but an unknown choral masterpiece, a cantata by Bach, and what if its content was, by modern standards, prejudicial and inflammatory?” AND AFTER THE FIRE is a transporting, multi-generational saga, spanning centuries and continents, and interweaving two women’s lives through the riveting history of Belfer’s imagined choral score. Read more about Sara Itzig Levy….see Resource Guide for suggestions.

In the late 18th century, real- life Sara Itzig Levy, the daughter of the King of Prussia’s Jewish banker, counts herself among the elite of Berlin—though anti-Semitism simmers all around her. A gifted harpsichordist, Sara hones her musical talents under Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, son of Johann Sebastian Bach. They share a special bond, but while his life is coming to an end, hers is only just beginning. On his deathbed, he bequeaths to her the score of one of his father’s cantatas as a wedding gift—but this piece is unlike any Sara has ever seen.

Palais Itzig on Burgstrasse (Berlin).

In present day New York City, Susanna Kessler has a seemingly charmed life, with a loving husband and a terrific job. But then a random act of violence tears it apart, and she is left to pick up the pieces alone. Just when she feels as if she’s beginning to recover, her beloved Uncle Henry commits suicide—leaving behind a cryptic note. It alludes to Henry’s haunting World War II experiences as an Allied soldier in Germany . . . and to something he took from the heavily-bombed country before returning home.

The cantata’s troubled journey in AND AFTER THE FIRE evokes that of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah in Geraldine Brooks’ The People of the Book or the stolen Degas in B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger. Framed by Susanna’s urgent search for the truth about the musical score her uncle left behind, Sara Levy’s rich, beautiful narrative—studded with vibrant, real-life musical figures of 18th and 19th century Europe, from Wilhelm Friedemann Bach to Beethoven to the Mendelssohn family—reveals the passions and politics of Enlightenment and Romantic-era Berlin. And as Susanna is drawn deeper and deeper into Sara’s world, harrowing questions about her own family’s past begin to surface, keeping readers turning the pages into the night.


About the Author
Lauren Belfer is the author of AND AFTER THE FIRE (Harper, May 2016). Her novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel, an NPR Best Mystery, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, a number one Book Sense pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Award nominee, a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and was translated into six languages. She lives in New York City.