Friday, July 27, 2012

This Scarlet Cord

"I think He has a plan for you, Rahab.  He put you into the hands of the slavers and He put you into the hands of someone who could teach you the truth about Him.  Now He has saved you from the dissolute rites of a false god.  You are important to Him, Rahab.  You must just wait and see what it is He wants you to do.  Wait and listen."
-excerpt from This Scarlet Cord

I think we all have images in our minds of what the Biblical accounts we have read are supposed to look like.  This one was no exception for me.  The story of Rahab is not one that I have read a lot, but I am familiar with it and where she fits into God’s story.  This Scarlet Cord is the fictional account of the story of Rahab by author Joan Wolf.

In her notes to the reader at the end  of the book, Joan Wolf states that she has take the story of a Rahab which, in the Bible, equals about 5 paragraphs, and lengthened it into a book of about 85,000 words.  That is not an easy thing to do, I am sure.  After reading Wolf’s last novel about Queen Esther, A Reluctant Queen, I was very eager to read this one.

The story begins with Rahab as a young girl and ends shortly after the fall of Jericho.  Both the beginning and ending are plausible because the Bible doesn’t really include that information.  There are some areas in the middle that I would consider more fiction than Biblical.   That being said, I am simply going to share some things I liked about the novel, and a few that I didn’t.

I am not a Bible expert.  I am supposed to write a review, so these are my feelings toward the parts of the book I didn’t like.  The story doesn’t follow 100% of the Biblical account of the story of Rahab.  The Bible mentions in several places that she is a harlot, and the author changes that fact, which kind of skews the way  she helps the Israelite spies.  Also, Wolf places Israelites in other cities and not with the rest of the Israelites coming out of Egypt during the Exodus, which is where Sala comes from, and is how he comes to know Rahab before the siege on Jericho.  I find this extremely hard to believe.  I realize this is fiction, but this is one point I had issue with.  It has however pushed me to my Bible to do some further research. 

Another portion of the book that was difficult me to read, was when Rahab’s family comes to Jericho and there is A LOT of explicit discussion about Baal worship and the sexual connotations surrounding their religious rituals.  It is not severe, but I really would rather not read about these things and skimmed over a large portion of this section of the book. 

That being said, there were some things I did like, and I thought the author did a wonderful job weaving into the story.  I liked the love story between Rahab and Sala.  What girl doesn’t like a love story?  It was very sweet and pure and I enjoy reading about how it grew.  I really loved how Wolf revealed the conversion of Rahab to Yahweh as a process in the story.  The Bible doesn’t say anything about that either, but we know it must have happened at some point because she became a part of the Israelite family and her name is in the lineage of Jesus.  That part of the story was a beautiful thing.  The last thing I really liked was how the author rehearsed the Battle of Jericho and how the walls fell down.  I thought she was very creative and descriptive in the development of how the Israelites took the city of Jericho.  It appeared to stick to the Biblical account but was developed in areas where we have no information. 

The last parts of the story was redeeming for the book.  If you enjoy Biblical fiction, this will be an interesting read for you.  I would recommend it for 18+ though because of some of the sexuality found in the book. 

Many blessings as you read and I hope you find Jesus and His story in whatever you read.

*Disclaimer-I received this book free from Booksneeze as part of a free books for bloggers program.  I was not required to give a positive review.  The thoughts and opinions found here are entirely my own.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Secret Keeper-A Novel of Kateryn Parr

"The king had told Kate, upon her marriage, to choose whichever women she liked to pass the time with her in amusing manners or otherwise accompany her for her leisure.  The queen certainly did so; we played cards and dice and she love to hunt with her greyhounds.  But His Majesty did not realize, I was sure, the extent to which Kate was about more serious business.  Her chambers were oft filled with women who held spirited debates upon philosophy and religion."
-thoughts from Juliana St. John in The Secret Keeper-A Novel of Kateryn Parr

Before I began reading The Ladies in Waiting series by author Sandra Byrd, I didn't know much about the Tudors or the Protestant Reformation.  But now, after reading The Secret Keeper-A Novel of Kateryn Parr, I am feeling much more informed and educated.

The Secret Keeper-A Novel of Kateryn Parr, rehearses the life of Kateryn (Katherine) Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, during her reign as queen.   Told from the point of view of Juliana St. John, a fictitious character within the realm, we peer into the life of one of England's very influential queens during the time of the Protestant Reformation.

Byrd has done extensive research in the life of this queen and those who were friends and enemies during her time in the royal court.  After reading this novel, I was prompted to do some further research for myself, as I was after reading the first novel in the series, To Die For-A Novel of AnneBoleyn.

As I read the novel and then researched I found out what an integral part the women of the royal family played during the Protestant Reformation.  There were also some divisions within, which created a lot of bloodshed, literally, but it was a real time of growth for the Church.  I imagine this fact and her interest in the Tudor family are what prompted Sandra Byrd to write this book.  I know that there are many other novels out there on the royal family during this time period, but none quite possibly as inspired as this.

Spiritual elements the reader will find within the novel are the gift of the Spirit revealed as by prophecy.  Prophecy, the Word of Knowledge, and the Word of Wisdom are all speaking gifts within the church, given by the Holy Spirit to further God's purposes and plans, as listed in 1 Corinthians 12.  Byrd does a lovely job revealing this in the character of Juliana St. John through dreams given to her, and as the reader will find, to help carry out the plan of God during this time. 

FYI- There are a couple of passages in the novel including a rape scene, and a few passages in reference to risqué teasing of a physical nature with Elizabeth I when she was 14.  They are written in a discreet manner, but you are not left to wonder what happened, and did cause me a pause in my reading for just a bit. 

I enjoyed reading this novel for many reasons.  I like historical fiction.  But The Secret Keeper is a combination of Chick lit (yes girls, there is a lovely romance within the pages), Historical fiction, and Christian fiction, which made it all the more appealing to me. 

I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  You will learn about a pivotal time period in Christian history while learning about an amazing queen, who was also a student of the scriptures and a writer herself.  Maybe you will be prompted to do a little further research of your own. Many blessings to you as you travel back in time with The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr.

To learn more about the Tudors and the author of the Ladies in Waiting series, Sandra Byrd, please visit

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher.  I was not required to give a positive review.  The thoughts and opinions here are entirely my own.