Five decades before the birth of Christ, Chava, daughter of the royal tutor, grows up with Urbi, a princess in Alexandria’s royal palace. When Urbi becomes Queen Cleopatra, Chava vows to be a faithful friend no matter what–but after she and Cleopatra have an argument, she finds herself imprisoned and sold into slavery.
Torn from her family, her community, and her elevated place in Alexandrian society, Chava finds herself cast off and alone in Rome. Forced to learn difficult lessons, she struggles to trust a promise HaShem has given her. After experiencing the best and worst of Roman society, Chava must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God’s will for her life.
This book is so hard to review right now. When I saw it come across the available titles at Bethany House and NetGalley it captured my attention and I HAD to read it. Biblical fiction is a favorite genre of mine (well, lets face it there’s so few genres that aren’t a favorite!). While not exactly Biblical the synopsis definitely fits into the genre. There’s the added bonus of Angela Hunt who is just amazing. However, the execution didn’t quite hit the expectation, at least for me. Set during the ‘Silent Years’, this book tells the story of a young Jewish girl, Chava, who is raised with and envisions a lifelong friendship with Cleopatra VII. The appearances of Cleopatra were few, which was disappointing in a book about her, but Chava’s story had potential to be interesting.
There are several things, if you haven’t figured out yet, that fell flat for me with this book. I felt like I was reading a historical text as opposed to a novel about the lives of two historical women, one of which is quite famous as the subject of books, movies and documentaries. There was so much historical ‘filler’ that took away from the story. Just an example, referencing that the battle with Caesar in Alexandria would become known as the Alexandrian War seems out of place for a character to reference something that would come later, most likely after her time. With all the extra research filler the story tended to drag along. It read quickly but the story was sluggish. I don’t to pick about everything but another thing that struck me as beyond odd was how quickly Chava became a midwife and trained another midwife. It felt like ‘hey look at me, I successfully delivered a baby and read a scroll, put me in coach!’. There were a few things that just didn’t add up or were just too much that brought this down for me.
It wasn’t all drawbacks and sluggishness. Honestly, my favorite portrayal was of Agrippa. He was a gentleman, kind, honest and accommodating. He didn’t just look at for number one but for all those he cared about. Chava, when she was simply telling of her life was engaging. When the story slipped into research mode that was lost but she kept me in the story. I promise I didn’t totally fall flat on the book. It left a lot to be desired for me but I love the premise, I adore the author and I think in the right hands this book will be a blessing and become well loved.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House and 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.
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About Angela Elwell Hunt
Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With over three million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to novels.
Her books have won the coveted Christy Award, several Angel Awards from Excellence in Media, and the Gold and Silver Medallions from Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. In 2007, her novel The Note was featured as a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. Romantic Times Book Club presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
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