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“I just finished one of the best non-Francine Rivers historical fiction novels I’ve ever read,” began my conversation with my mom the other day. She perked up, responding, “Yeah, she kind of ruined me for other writers.”
The book was Harvest of Rubies: (Book 1)($) by Tessa Afshar. I picked it up on one of the days it was free for Kindle because it looked interesting. I enjoy (some) novels that explore the motivations and details of Biblical characters’ lives, and the synopsis I read of this one mentioned Nehemiah without him being a central character so I decided to give it a go. It was definitely worth the read! I expect I’ll even be reading it again in the not-too-distant future. And I’m really excited that there’s a sequel to it coming out in July (2013)!
-UPDATE- The sequel is available! I’m so excited! My sister just gave me an Amazon gift card for my birthday, and I’m using part of it for this book, Harvest of Gold: (Book 2)($)!!!
The story is about Sarah, a cousin of Nehemiah, who becomes a senior scribe to the queen of Persia. It takes place in Persia about 20 years after Esther was queen and while Nehemiah is still serving as the king’s cupbearer. Sarah has spent her childhood trying to earn her father’s approval, and as an adult, she has two central beliefs – that God doesn’t care about her and that her worth is determined by what she can do for people. The way the author orchestrated God’s dealing with Sarah’s people-pleasing obsession really struck a chord in my heart as this is an ongoing struggle for me.
I found the storyline itself quite riveting, enjoying the twists, turns, and surprises along the way. There are laugh-out-loud funny scenes, painfully awkward scenes, and poignantly beautiful scenes woven believably through Sarah’s daily routines. I also really enjoyed the author’s seemingly thorough knowledge and understanding of ancient Persia as well as of poetic devices in Biblical Hebrew, including her honesty in the endnotes about what was true and where she had taken literary license. Persian recipes were an unexpected bonus at the end of the book.
When I finished the book, I went to the author’s website and thought it was pretty cool to discover that she herself is actually Persian – born in Iran and lived there until she was 14 when she went to boarding school in Britain. She later moved to the US and became a follower of Jesus in her twenties. I was excited to see that she has another book out about Rahab, and then I was even more excited to find out that I already had it in my archived Kindle books! Sweet! Thank you, Inspired Reads!! So I guess you know what I’ll be reading next. I’ll let you know if I like it as well as I liked this one.
How about you? How do you feel about books exploring the lives of Biblical characters? Have you read this book? What did you think? I encourage you to read it if you can. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!