I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit. 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.Lydia, Woman of Philippi by Diana Wallis Taylor
Published by Whitaker House on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Christian, Fiction, Historical, Religious, Romance
Smart, strong, and a follower of the Jewish God, Lydia has nonetheless always quietly conformed to the expectations of the wealthy Roman society surrounding her. Even though married off at fifteen to a man she dislikes, she is determined to be a faithful wife. But when her husband is killed some years later, Lydia vows never to remarry and returns to her father's house in Thyatira with her twelve-year-old daughter. There, a new life begins to emerge. //
As she is trained in the family dye business, Lydia’s shrewd management quickly creates profit, prestige—and envy. At odds with her jealous brother, who is a staunch Roman and can't understand her obsession with the Jewish religion, Lydia finds herself yet again at the mercy of a patriarchal society. Will fleeing to Philippi be enough to protect herself and those under her care? Will she keep her vow to widowhood when a handsome Greek God-fearer turns out to be more than just an employee? And when she meets a strange man named Paul the apostle by the river one Sabbath day, will Lydia have the courage to once more let her life be dramatically changed—this time forever?
I feel like I’m on a Lydia kick this year. This is the second book I’ve read on this Biblical woman since August and both are different as night and day. We know Lydia as a savvy business woman in a time that women didn’t run businesses. We assume she was possibly a widow as she ran a business without male oversight or protection. We know Lydia as a dyer of purple. Sorry I’ll NEVER understand this love of purple, totally not for me. We know that mostly likely, at some point she lived in or was from Thyatira. We know her as the first convert in Europe who opened her home to Paul, Silas, Timothy and those traveling with them. We can make historical assumptions of where she was from, how she lived, her background and family. But we don’t know. And hence we have books about this amazing woman that are so different. Both drew me to them and both left me wanting just a little bit more.
There are some things in this book that bothered me and did leave me lacking. The time jumps in the beginning were a bit jarring. I realize that they were necessary to get to the heart of her life but they didn’t feel well setup. The other biggie was the constant repetition. The same story told in the same way chapter after chapter. The same story of his experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus. The same story equating Jesus on the cross to the Passover lamb. The same conversion, the same prayer, the same everything. The same story so many times, chapter after chapter. It felt like it was a copy and paste from one telling to the next. I almost felt like it was NANO and word count was what mattered. I feel like so much depth could have been added by variances. Of referencing without retelling. It would have left so much open to deeper character development and story progression.
I feel like the story of Lydia was window dressing on what could have been an amazing story. The back story was here but was missing the depth. The idea of her running her business behind the curtain was surface for what could have been a deeper dive into the story, the characters, and the location. I loved the interlacing of her family, the good and the bad. I loved her independence and her strength. Lydia, in this book and in the Bible, has a lot to teach us. But like Christ, only if we are open to the learning.