Monday, June 13, 2011

A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther, By: Joan Wolf: A Book Review

A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther was a very enjoyable read.  It was not my first pick, but it was much more intriguing than I thought it would be.  I'm not a huge fan of reading things that I already know how they end.  I've read the story of Esther in the Bible countless number of times, and so in some ways I thought that I'd be rather bored with this read.  However, that was not the case.  The author, Joan Wolf, writes this book as a Christian Romance which in turn breathed some new life into the familiar story.

I really enjoyed the main character, Esther.  The author did a great job of really allowing the reader to connect to her.  I love how the author paints a more detailed picture of how this young girl might have felt to be placed in a "contest" to win the king's heart, & how she might have reacted to the process.  It was so fun to watch Esther fall in love with the king even though she didn't think she would.  The story really allowed you to imagine that this could have really all taken place as a true love story & not just a "contest."  In the beginning of the book it says that Esther is a 15 year old girl, but I had an extremely hard time believing that as I read.... she seemed much older and way to mature for a girl of that age.

I really loved the character of King Ahasuerus.  He was came across as a great and powerful king, but one who was compassionate and full of understanding.  It was also interesting to see how the villain, Haman, was presented.  I like that as a reader you understood his actions & that he was portrayed in a way that allowed one to truly fathom why he did what he did.

I really appreciated the author's research into the region & time period.  It was evident that sufficient research had been done to bring about a sense of authenticity.  It really allowed me to envision the story in a more simplistic way that helped me to actually understand each character and their actions more.

 Reading the Bible story of Esther I always had questions of how women then might have felt about harem's and concubines & I think the author did a great job of showing some raw emotions & how a woman might have truly felt.  I think she also did a good job of explaining how these harem women might have come about to the king, & how a man might not have "used" these women.  

I wish that the ending had been a bit more climatic.  It seemed that the king was a bit to forgiving considering his actions of throwing the previous queen, Vashti, out.  I think had there been a bit more tension between Esther and the king after he found out she was a Jew, then it would have added that tad bit more excitement to the end that I think was lacking.  Although, it was a very sweet ending, & I'm not complaining about it.

Although this book is based on the Biblical story of Esther one must still realize that this is a work of fiction and that it is not entirely accurate nor might it completely align with the Biblical account or truth of the story.  The author did a great job painting a believable story though, but plainly there are obvious points that are not in the original Bible story.  However, the author did a great job of allowing one to think.... "something like this might have happened" behind the scenes of the true story of Esther.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Christian Romance novels.  I would rate the book a 4 out of 5.

(Thanks to Thomas Nelson publishers & booksneeze for the copy of the book.)

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