Saturday, January 17, 2009
About the book:
Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.
Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions. Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor.
This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, The Centurion's Wife unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.
When I read a story, especially historical fiction, I want to be transported to another place. The Centurion's Wife does just that. But it's not just a story about Leah, the wife. It is just as much the story of Alban, the Centurion, who was originally from Gaul. He was sent by Pilate to find out more about the "prophet" Jesus, who was crucified, yet continued to influence all of Judea. Pilate was afraid of a Judean revolt, but what he didn't realize was that Jesus had come to live, and died, and then rose again to free mankind from their sins.
Alban was sent by Pilate to find out more about the man, Jesus, and at the same time Leah, his niece, was sent by Procula, his wife, to seek that very information. Each step in their search for truth was profoundly beautiful. Jesus influenced lives in ways that was difficult for them to comprehend, but still very real. The more they learned about Jesus, the more drawn they felt toward him. And His teaching was contrary to what they had both been taught their entire lives. I was on this journey with them and rejoiced as each slowly transformed their thinking.
The thing that thrilled me about this story was how the reader also needed to examine what to do with the man, Jesus. If he had indeed risen from the dead, what does that mean for them? The Centurion's Wife was engaging and profoundly spiritual. I loved the setting and the way the authors led the reader on a spiritual journey as well. I was deeply moved as the story concluded. This is the kind of story that leaves an impact on your heart and makes you think more about your faith. This book would also make an excellent supplement to a Bible study and would be a fabulous book for book clubs and reading groups to study. I plan to read the rest of this series because if the other stories are this amazing, they are not to be missed!
This book is definitely going on my favorite fiction list for 2009.
The Centurion's Wife was published by Bethany House and released in January 2009.