Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.
But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.
With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances—along with her father’s precious dye—help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.
When I stumbled across this book on NetGalley I knew I had to request it. I hadn’t read Afshar’s writing before but the synopsis drew me in. The story of Lydia, the first believer on the continent, who invited Paul and Silas into her home, was a draw like no other. What I anticipated and what I read were not the same thing however. It was an engaging story that cast you into the characters but I never bonded with the characters, I never felt their hurt or fear or pain or longing or even their joy.
The story moves along well, telling the story of Lydia with her father and how she came to be in Philippi. It tells of her meeting, and subsequently rescuing Rebekah. It tells of how they met Paul and Silas and his group on the banks of the river. It tells of her salvation and the growth of the church there. The story is well told. I could picture the scenes, the people. I could smell the smells. But I couldn’t feel the fear. I couldn’t feel their excitement. I couldn’t even feel their joy. The story read smoothly but I didn’t ‘feel’ anything. Everything was glossed over. It was told well but it missed depth.
This is book is well told but I wish it had more. Characters I could bond with and ache with. Characters I could rejoice with and embrace. I’m glad I read it as it delved deeper (even if fictionally) into the story of Lydia and her purple dye (really purple….that almost turned me off :D) and the church of Philippi.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
About Tessa Afshar
Tessa was born in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She serves on the staff of one of the oldest churches in America. But that has not cured her from being addicted to chocolate
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads