The actual House of Windows as far as we could tell
Have you ever traveled in the footsteps of a book?
Visited the location where a character lived? Tried to retrace his or her steps? I’ve done this several times, such as on a trip to London when my kids and I visited where Hercule Poirot “lived” in the BBC series we love.
I got to do this again in Jerusalem a month ago, when my friend Rivka Levy took my husband and me around the neighborhood of Musrara, where she herself lived until recently. We weren’t following the footsteps of a character. Rather, we were hunting for the locations Adina Hoffman writes about in House of Windows. We believe the above photo shows the building where Adina Hoffman lived as she described it this way:
“With its flight of worn limestone steps, its slender columns and iron banisters, rising at intervals into delicate archways, the house called to mind a host of mismatched objects and structures, the entire assortment of which might suggest, together, something of its quirky elegance, but none of which alone does justice to the building’s eccentric proportions. It had the multiple, zigzagging decks of a luxury liner, the intricate balconies and catwalks of a stage set, the busy grid of a crossword puzzle, and the tall, spindly struts of an oversized canopy bed.”
House of Windows, Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood by Adina Hoffman, p. 1
House of Windows is a wonderful portrait of place, rendered, quite often, in exquisite lyrical prose.
I had given Rivka a copy of House of Windows. I figured she’d get a kick out of it, having fought her own battles trying to feel at home in Musrara. She wrote quite entertainingly about those in her Secret Diary of Jewish Housewife. Sure enough, she read House of Windows in one sitting and wrote about her impressions in Through Someone Else’s Window. Rivka brought her copy along on our jaunt. She showed us some of her spots, as well as some she thought were the locations of House of Windows, such as Ahmed’s Garden.