Begun in 1690, this diary was penned by a forty-four-year-old German Jewish widow who had fourteen children. In her diary, Gluckel explains how she defied societal restrictions and was able to guide and secure the financial and personal destinies of her children, engage in trade, run her own factory, and promote the welfare of her large family. Gluckel also manages to transcend time as well, as her memoirs succeed in appealing to readers through the determination and humor with which Gluckel writes.
The diary is filled with drama and intrigue, as Gluckel writes about matters of war, plague, pirates, murder, bankruptcy, and the hysteria of the false messiah Sabbtai Zevi. The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln offers an important, first-hand look into 17th century Germany, the precarious situation under which Jews in Northern Germany lived, and the history of women during this period. In spite of all challenges, Gluckel stands strong as a true heroine as she accepts the situation she’s forced into as a widowed mother of fourteen and boldly fights for her family and her faith.