Some of the most amazing things I've discovered through Christian Historical Fiction, is the author's talent to weave a story about someone from the Bible in a whole new way through their fictional novel. In fact, sometimes it's so well written it sounds as if we were a part of that story and the character is someone we got to know through their words.
That is just what you, as a reader, will find when you open the cover of Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar. Here you are immediately drawn back into 457 BC to the home of Sarah, Nehemiah's cousin, where we find she struggles to find the attention of her father. Now that Sarah has taught herself to read, something forbidden for women, her father is more than pleased at her new found abilities and offers to help her learn more. However, her Aunt Leah, confronts her father and explains how this might get them all in trouble if anyone finds out. When he isn't willing to give up helping Sarah, Leah confronts Nehemiah who works in the palace as a way of convincing them both of their foolish ways.
When Nehemiah shows up, he reminds them all of Queen Esther's gifts of saving God's people through her beauty, and tells Sarah to continue to pursue her love of reading because no one knows just how God will chose to use her gifts in the future. Now she is able to read Persian, read and write Akkadian, another complicated language practiced only by royal scribes for the keeping of important administrative records but also Aramaic as well. Becoming a proficient keeper of records in an empire that relied on its administrative skill to prosper made Sarah a valuable commodity to her father. By the time she was twenty, she was more scribe than woman. Yet the God that Nehemiah spoke so highly of, was one Sarah now couldn't believe in. He was the one she blamed for her mother's death, believing that he was simply too busy to bother with their daily needs. It was Nehemiah that made certain that Sarah learned Hebrew after discovering her discouragement with God. Once Nehemiah is satisfied that Sarah has learned proficiently enough, he informs her and her father, that she shall now serve as the Queen's senior scribe and live at the palace for such a post.
It is here that Sarah's life will be forever changed and where the book Harvest of Rubies begins the adventure to live in a palace - to be surrounded by beauty and culture and new wonders. To occupy such a high position - one rarely enjoyed by a woman, no less. To have her abilities acknowledged in such a public fashion. Her life will serve a purpose she could never have conceived. This is a door that the Lord has opened for Sarah. God who has called her will also equip her. Everything she lacks will be provided. Now if she can only get over her fear of failure.
I have had the delight to read a previous novel by Tessa Afshar, Pearl in the Sand, and she truly does possess a beautiful gift for words in taking your typical Bible story and weaving a completely different light on it, while still capturing the essence of the Bible. For this reason, I know if you love great Historical Bible Fiction, then you will absolutely LOVE Harvest of Rubies. I received this book compliments of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review and have to give this one a 5 out of 5 stars. Here's even more information on this book, the author and even a sneak peek into the first chapter:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
TESSA AFSHAR was voted "New Author of the Year" by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader's Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She 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 co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The prophet Nehemiah’s cousin can speak several languages, keep complex accounts, write on tablets of clay, and solve mysteries. Her accomplishments catapult her into the center of the Persian court – working long hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and becoming the queen’s favorite scribe.
Not bad for a woman living in a man’s world: so why does Sarah feel like a failure?
A devastating past has left Sarah with two conclusions: that God does not love her, and that her achievements are the measure of her worth – a measure she can never quite live up to.
Darius Pasargadae is accustomed to having his way. A wealthy and admired aristocrat, the last thing he expects is a wife who scorns him.
Can two such different people help one another overcome the idols that bind them?
If you would like to read the first chapter of Harvest of Rubies, go HERE.