Cover Image: Tears of Gold

Tears of Gold

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Member Reviews

“Now more than ever, we must keep the borders of our hearts open to those who are different from us. The word ‘attention’ comes from the Latin ‘ad tendere’, which means to reach towards. Only by reaching out in love and understanding can we overcome the agendas of violence and polarisation that seek to divide us.”

British author, artist, and human rights activist, Hannah Rose Thomas, began working with Syrian refugee children in 2014 when she was living in Jordan as an Arabic student. They painted refugee tents in bright colours, designed to capture the world’s attention.

My Goodreads and Amazon reviews include Picture 1 of tent painting with the caption:.
Hannah Rose Thomas, painted UNHCR refugee tent, 2014. Courtesy; artist.

Her introduction to this book is titled ”The Art of Attention”

“ ‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. It is given to very few minds to notice that things and beings exist.’ —Philosopher Simone Weil”

My Goodreads and Amazon reviews include Picture 2 with the caption::
Picture 2 is a finished tent on display. (That might be her in front of it, but I don't know.)

First, though, is a foreword by the then Prince of Wales, Charles, followed by a preface by Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. At the end of the book is an insightful afterword by Christopher Bailey, Arts and Health Lead, World Health Organization. I would say all three acknowledge the power of art to reach people and foster understanding in ways that other media may not move them.

The three main series of portraits are of Yazidi (ISIS-Daesh escapees), Rohingya (Myanmar refugees), and Nigerian women (survivors of Boko Haram and Fulani violence). There is a further selection of portraits of Afghan, Ukrainian, Uyghur (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China), and Palestinian women.

Before each group of paintings, the author writes about a thousand words of historical background about the regions, the conflict, how she approached the women, and what she and they hope to achieve.

Each portrait is accompanied by a short paragraph or two of the woman’s horrific story of loss and brutality. I will share a few of the portraits with some of what they said.

My Goodreads and Amazon reviews include Picture 3 with the caption:
Picture 3 is Hadiya.
“’And then I was sold again.’ - Hadiya (26, Yazidi refugee, who escaped ISIS-Daesh)

“Hadiya was sold into sexual and domestic slavery to twelve different Daesh fighters…it was the act of being repeatedly sold that most made her feel dehumanised.”

My Goodreads and Amazon reviews include Picture 4 with the caption:
The cover photo, the painting of 15-year-old Samkina, a Rohingya girl.

“ ‘We had to leave my father’s body behind.’”

Nigerian women and children have been attacked and stolen by Boko Haram, one of the most famous captures being when Michelle Obama led the public to demand that they #BringBackOurGirls. Boko Haram and Fulani militants continue to use sexual violence to weaken communities.

My Goodreads and Amazon reviews include Picture 5 with the caption:
:Christiana from Nigeria.

“ ‘They held guns and surrounded me. I became so frightened at that moment. When they r*ped me, I was bleeding because I was very weak and heavily pregnant.’

After the attackers left, her husband took her immediately to a hospital, where she gave birth to her daughter Gloria, whom she calls her ‘miracle baby.’ “

What a childbirth that must have been!

Of the Afghan women, three featured here are among the 250 women who had been judges during the twenty years between the US presence and the Taliban take-over in 2021. Since then, any woman without a male relative to escort them was not allowed to leave their home for any reason. Girls over twelve are no longer educated.

There are other countries represented, and I think Tursunay Ziyawudun , a Uyghur refugee, says it best about what they all face around the world.

My Goodreads and Amazon reviews include Picture 6 with the caption:

“ ‘Their goal is to completely destroy us – physically and psychologically. They want to take away our dignity, our humanity, and our ability to feel joy. I will bear the scars of what they did to me for the rest of my life.’ - Tursunay Ziyawudun”

The artist uses gold leaf intentionally to remind us of sacred icons. The women also drew their own self-portraits and often gave themselves tears of gold, hence the title.

“The use of gold leaf in my portraits of displaced women and survivors of conflict-related sexual violence is symbolic of this sacredness regardless of what they have suffered. Gold has traditionally been a symbol of the divine because it does not change or tarnish with age.”

As I said, she also features Ukrainian, Uyghur and Palestinian women. This is a beautiful production and I’d love to see copies of it in all school libraries and anywhere the public can see the human face of war. It could be a terrific book club book as well as a good resource to recruit more human rights activists.

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This thoughtful, empathetic, and passionate glimpse into the lives of a handful of women gives us a necessary perspective into the reality experienced by millions of people around the world. It encourages compassion and care for others while subtly calling for action - for each of us to do better and do more to stand up for one another and protect the humanness of each soul we encounter.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher do an advance readers copy in exchange for an honest review

Tears of Gold is a captivating and heart wrenching book by Hannah Rose Thomas, a talented British artist and human rights advocate. Through striking portraits of women, accompanied by compelling narratives and personal self-portraits, Thomas brings forth a powerful and emotional message . I found myself tearing up while reading the stories of these women who are so beautifully captured by the artist.

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This was a beautiful and haunting collection of portraits and stories. These women are unique and beautiful, and have survived so much. Their portraits convey strength, loss, hope, and sadness. Thomas did an amazing job of bringing faces and names to tragedies that we see in the news, but lack that human element because it's so far from our personal reality. I especially liked the self-portraits included in some of the entries. It added a little more of a personal touch to the whole thing. I have to admit, I teared up a few times while reading this, but I have nothing but admiration for these women, and hope that their futures will bring them better things.

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A renowned young British artist and human rights activist in this book presents her portrait paintings to show the dignity and strength of character of women survivors of violence in “forgotten corners of the world.” The portraits of these women are from three continents and three religions are a testimony of war, injustice and humanity. The artist teaches the women to do self portraits as a way to reclaim their self-worth. Hopefully this will remind us of what happened to these women. It is too easy to look the other way and forget.

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A gut punch of a book, raw and emotional and beautiful. It demonstrates the power of art to bring back a sense of worth and dignity for those who have survived the worst. (Longer review coming at my Substack soon.)

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Poignant and emotional. I feel grateful that the author and women shared their stories with us. I don't feel like I can review this kind of work.

"Profits from the book will go to charities that support women in conflict zones."

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Wow. This collection of beautiful portraits is incredibly heartbreaking, but more importantly, they effectively communicate the suffering, hope, and humanization of these women in a way mere words cannot. The book reminds the reader of the healing power of art and storytelling on both individual and cultural/societal levels; the role of art in culture is so important. I appreciated the explanations of why certain techniques were used in the portraits as well as the summaries of crises at issue allowing this book to be more accessible to all readers.

Thank you to NetGalley and Plough Publishing for this ARC. All opinions are my own.

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The capacity to give one's attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle.”—Simone Weil, French Philosopher, 1909-1943

British artist Hannah Rose Thomas and clinical psychologist Dr. Sarah Whittaker-Howe traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan and northern Nigeria to meet the Yazidi women who had escaped ISIS captivity. Thomas wanted to provide a safe place for them to express themselves through art, hoping it would help them regain their voices and dignity. She knew the healing power of art. It had helped her recover from the post-traumatic stress and depression that follows a traumatic experience.

While Whitaker-Howe recorded their stories, a step in recovering from trauma, Thomas taught the women how to paint self-portraits. Many embellished them with tears of gold. Near the end of their stay, the women sent a representative to ask Thomas if she would paint their portraits so others might learn of their situation. She not only painted their stories, but also made trips to other parts of the world where other women have suffered similar experiences.

Thomas created images that harken to the icons of the early-Renaissance, using techniques such as 24-karat gold leaf and the labor-intensive and tedious egg tempera. Set against background so closely associated with fifteenth-century iconography, the images are exemplars of female strength and resilience in the face of unthinkable tragedy. The Rohingya women’s, by contrast, emerge from a dark background, glowing in the darkness as their faces would have done when their villages were burned.

Thomas’s portraits are extraordinary and have been shown in numerous prestigious venues. King Charles III, Prince at that time, chose three for a 2018 exhibition in Buckingham Palace.

Thanks to Plough Publishing and NetGalley for providing this eARC.

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Young British artist Hannah Rose Thomas conveys the resilience and stoucism of these persecuted women brilliantly in her powerful portraits, in which she uses gold leaf reminiscent of beautiful Greek and Russian icons. She looked for the Divine in these women, and she certainly found it! Every portrait is accompanied by the story and the self-portrait of the individual women. Many of them are unbelievably harrowing. This is a memorable book.

l received this ebook from leyNetGalley in return for an honest review.

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survival, survivor's-guilt, survivors, nonfiction, art, triggers, trafficking, tragedy, crimes-against-humanity, violent-crimes, women-victims, photographic-art, memories, multicultural, multiple-murder, cultural-differences, cultural-heritage, culture-of-fear, pain-and-suffering*****

This is a book to jar the complacency out of those whose countries do not have war in their streets and homes. The portraits and stories are those of women who have been brutalized by men for reasons that are inhuman. This book needs to be read and we need to heed the message. We need to realize that it COULD be anyone next.
Portraits of Yazidi Women: Who Escaped ISIS Captivity
Portraits of Rohingya Women: Refugees from Myanmar
Portraits of Nigerian women: Survivors of Boko Haram and Fulani Violence
Portraits from Other Conflicts: Afghan, Ukrainian, Uyghur, and Palestinian Women
I requested and received an EARC as both Kindle and Adobe Digital Editions from Quarto Publishing Group – Wellfleet Press via NetGalley. Thank you

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Tears of Gold is a beautiful book. The portraits capture nuances of a life lived in the details of a face, the history of emotions and strength of these women. It would made a love coffee table book or even be used for art references.

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I appreciate the artwork created by the refugees and Hannah, reminding us that art comes in all forms. To be honest, if I were in a bookstore, I might have missed the opportunity to learn about what’s happening on the other side of the world. I’m glad I was introduced to this book, as it aligns with my goal to read more and explore other authors’ works. As an African American woman, I can empathize with the pain these women are going through, given the racial profiling and historical injustices our race has endured. I found it hard to understand the husbands’ perspectives. Some stood by their wives regardless of what they went through, acknowledging that it wasn’t their fault. However, the husbands who abandoned their wives puzzle me. These women were raped and beaten, yet some husbands rejected them because of something that wasn’t their fault. In any case, we women must stand strong in all we do.

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Do not read this book unless you want your heart to be broken. There are so many horrific stories.
All of the women in the book have been through terrible events and some have permanent damage or know they will never see their families again. Some are blamed for what happened, even though the events were clearly beyond their control.
With each story, we get to see the women's representations of themselves accompanied by paintings created by a skilled artist. The pictures help to bring home the tragedy and the humanity of each individual, while still somehow bringing a sense of hope because they survived and are still strong and beautiful.
Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this

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I rarely read books about art, but his one caught my attention; a beautiful cover and a captivating (and interesting) title are enough sometimes.
I am not sure how best to review this book, I always find it hard to comment on other people's experiences, but I'll try.
I found it hard to read, not because it isn't well written but because of the emotional burdens that it carries. I found myself in tears, portrait after portrait, story after story.
I think it is very important that someone gives voice to the women and children that go through hell, that endure atrocities, that live with unspeakable trauma, and this book does exactly that. It gives voice through art.
If I had to find something not as positive to say, is that the author and artist should worry less about how the public will perceive her work, she should worry less about people thinking that she tries to exploit these women and girls, because the love and empathy and caring is apparent to every single portrait.

Thank you, NetGalley and Plough Publishing, for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Tears of Gold Portraits of Yazidi, Rohingya, and Nigerian Women by Hannah Rose Thomas

128 Pages
Publisher: Plough Publishing, Plough Publishing House
Release Date: February 6, 2024

Nonfiction, Arts, Photography, Biographies, Memoirs, Multicultural Interests, Women

The book is divided into the following sections.

The Art of Attention
Portraits of Yazidi Women: Who Escaped ISIS Captivity
Portraits of Rohingya Women: Refugees from Myanmar
Portraits of Nigerian women: Survivors of Boko Haram and Fulani Violence
Portraits from Other Conflicts: Afghan, Ukrainian, Uyghur, and Palestinian Women

Beautiful yet haunting images of women. Some portraits look like photographs. The expressions of the women show the plight they have experienced. The self-portraits are moving. These women are heroes, yet few would say so. They have experienced pain and suffering at the hands of men. These are the ones who lived to tell their stories.

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"Tears of Gold" by Hannah Rose Thomas is a poignant exploration of resilience and human connection in the face of adversity. Through her evocative prose, Thomas weaves a compelling narrative that follows the lives of diverse characters whose destinies intersect in unexpected ways. The novel's emotional depth is amplified by Thomas's exquisite portrayal of the human experience, capturing the complexities of joy, sorrow, and the enduring power of hope.

Set against a rich backdrop of cultural diversity, "Tears of Gold" masterfully addresses universal themes of love, loss, and the pursuit of one's identity. Thomas's storytelling prowess shines as she crafts vivid and authentic characters, each with their own struggles and triumphs. The novel's pacing is well-balanced, keeping readers engaged from the first page to the last.

What sets "Tears of Gold" apart is Thomas's ability to infuse the narrative with a profound sense of empathy and understanding. Her exploration of the human spirit in the face of challenges resonates long after the final chapter. "Tears of Gold" is a literary gem that leaves a lasting impression, showcasing Hannah Rose Thomas as a gifted storyteller with a unique and compelling voice.

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Tears of Gold is an absolutely beautiful book that will stay with me for a long time. I read this on my computer rather than my kindle so I could see the portraits in color, and I highly recommend that. The stories of these women will stay with me for a long time, and the ability for art to help in healing is something I had never considered before. I have new empathy for other lived experiences because I read this book. Thank you, NetGalley, for this copy. It's a book everyone should read.

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In this book, the author shares portraits she has painted of female survivors of war and war-related sexual violence. The author reflects on the unique dynamics affecting each minority group that she profiles, sharing personal thoughts along with historical and cultural context. The author cares deeply about raising awareness in the West while also honoring each woman's individuality, and the portraits are beautiful.

The author's art is very striking, and when possible, she also shares self-portraits that these women have painted in her workshops. Each portrait is accompanied by a short quotation from that woman, along with a brief summary of that woman's war story.

The author makes it clear that she doesn't want to objectify these women, using their images or stories as mere inspiration or compassion fuel for others, and she does her best to humanize each woman. However, her many caveats sometimes drag the book down. She'll go from sharing someone's trauma story to pages of in-depth philosophizing, with too many repetitive reflections on all of the ways that she doesn't want to misuse her privilege or distort these women's true selves.

I certainly understand her desire to be cautious with her platform, and I appreciate that proceeds from this book will go towards charity. However, I thought the constant caveats were overdone. I would have liked more detail about the women involved, and more stories about the artist's humanitarian work, and less about her worries of how people might misinterpret this book's intended meaning.

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The portraits are powerful. They must be even more so in color which my e reader didn't have.
The stories are horrifying. I knew about the Yazidi,but wondered why the Christian women who also suffered under Daesh were not represented. The suffering of the Rohingya.was brought to my attention for the first time.
. I would have liked to read more about the women and a little less philosophizing.
I read a free for review copy,

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