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Anything But Yes

A novel by

This beautiful new work of historical fiction was inspired by the diary of an 18th-century Roman Jewish girl who was imprisoned in a convent cell by the Catholic Church in an attempt to forcibly convert her.

“An intricately detailed novel of resistance and community.” Kirkus Reviews

Anything but Yes is the true story of a young woman’s struggle to defend her identity in the face of relentless attempts to destroy it. In 1749, eighteen-year-old Anna del Monte was seized at gunpoint from her home in the Jewish ghetto of Rome and thrown into a convent cell at the Casa dei Catecumeni, the house of converts. With no access to the outside world, she withstood endless lectures, threats, promises, isolation and sleep deprivation. If she were she to utter the simple word “yes,” she risked forced baptism, which would mean never returning to her home, and total loss of contact with any Jew—mother, father, brother, sister—for the rest of her life. 

Even in Rome, very few people know the story of the Ghetto or the abduction of Jews, the story of popes ever more intent on converting every non-Catholic living in the long shadow of the Vatican. Young girls and small children were the primary targets. They were vulnerable, easily confused, gullible. Anna del Monte was different. She was strong, brilliant, educated, and wrote a diary of her experiences. The document was lost for more than 200 hundred years, then rediscovered in 1989. Anything but Yes is also based on Davidow’s extensive research on life in the eighteenth-century Roman ghetto, its traditions, food, personalities, and dialect.

Includes Italian to English glossary

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"A compelling account of the intersection of sincere faith and abusive political power." - Mary Doria Russell

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