The title character in Binnie Kirshenbaum's Hester Among the Ruins is on the trail of a different kind of treasure. She is the rare historian who does not teach but makes a living from her popular books about medieval life. Her own past leads her toward modern Germany, where she travels to write a biography of a post-World War II everyman, hoping that it will illuminate the lives of an entire generation. When she winds up having an affair with her subject, she is forced to grapple with questions of love, religion and her own guilt and embarrassment about her German-Jewish immigrant parents. In Hester, Kirshenbaum travels through difficult emotional terrain with incredible honesty and awareness of people's many contradictions.