An inspiring re-imagining of the tale of Esther, a young Jewish woman thrust from a life of obscurity into a life of power, wealth, intrigue . . . and tender love.
See the story of Esther in an entirely new way-with all the political intrigue and tension you remember, but told as a passionate and tender love story between a young man and woman. Misunderstood by many, King Xerxes was a powerful but lonely man. Esther’s beauty caught the eye of the young king, but it was her spirit that captured his heart.
Imagine anew the story of Esther, one of our faith’s great heroines, destined to play a key role in the history of Christianity. More here.
I admit it, I approached this review with a great deal of trepidation. Even though I finished this book a couple weeks ago, I needed time to mull over the story and figure out how I felt. I really enjoy biblical fiction, but I think it is one of most difficult genres to write because these are well-known stories that are written on our hearts. Any digression from the biblical narrative will attract a spotlight and possibly a negative critique of the book.
Before I began reading this book I read the author’s note at the back where Joan Wolf explains why there are major discrepancies between the biblical account and her re-imagining. The most important thing to remember while reading this book, especially if you are very familiar with and love the Book of Esther, is that it is a fictionalization of the romance between Esther and the King of Persia. You will not find this book in the non-ficition or biblical commentary sections of your bookstore because that is not where it belongs.
If I was evaluating this story based solely on its historical and biblical accuracy, I would say that the potency of the story is diminished due to the obvious and prevalent modifications, embellishments, and exclusions. If you are curious about these problematic changes and how they impact the storyline, I would encourage you to read Ruth’s post at Book Talk and More where she gives a comprehensive analysis of the elements in question.
On the other hand, the love story was well developed and intriguing. I enjoyed the humanistic approach to the relationship and found Esther’s journey to be complex and engaging. Joan went behind the veneer of royal opulence to describe the intrigue and deception that loomed in the marble halls and behind veiled doorways.
This book has readers talking-some for and some against. If an author can incite dialogue between readers and engage inquisitive minds, then I count that as a success.