Saturday, April 13, 2013
ARC Review: Daughter of Jerusalem
Daughter of Jerusalem by Joan Wolf
Worthy Publishing, 2013
Adult Historical Inspirational
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
After my negative experience with Between the Sinners and the Sea, I was very nervous about picking this up even though I had enjoyed the author's previous work A Reluctant Queen. Would it actually be inspirational? Happily, I can report that this book succeeds on that front. Although it has its weaknesses, I was moved to tears by one passage about Jesus (I honestly can't imagine a time in my life where thinking about the love demonstrated by Jesus doesn't move me to cry).
But I found this book's historical grounding to be sorely lacking. The language and writing style felt very contemporary to me. This is good in that it meant I read the book very quickly but bad because I didn't feel transported back in time. Even though the setting and customs were super different from our cultural norms, it still didn't feel historical to me.
I did love a lot of the plot decisions made by the author though. Our heroine is Mary of Magdala who falls in love with someone but is given in marriage to a much older and extremely wealthy man. Although Jewish, they partake in many Roman customs and Mary falls away from her religion, even taking a Roman lover (these are the decisions that lead to her being called a whore as she is sometimes considered). After she is widowed, she returns to her Jewish roots where she comes upon the Messiah. I loved when she hears Jesus and how we see that wealthy women are the ones who really helped support the ministry of Jesus. Mary is very sympathetic to Judas, whose betrayal is painted as done by one who craved a strong military leader to restore Jewish sovereignty, a popular interpretation I've seen.
However there was one decision made by the author that I really don't understand though. In this version, Mary Magdalene is also Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus. I've always understood those Marys to be separate women and to be pleased with the many different women Jesus interacts with in the Gospels.
Overall: Although I found this book interesting and enjoyable, I didn't think it dipped much beyond the surface (except for brief moments with Jesus who always manages to touch my heart) and will not leave an impression on me.