The Shadow Women

The Shadow Women

4.3 15
by Angela Elwell Hunt, Tandy Cronyn

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Under the shadow of ancient Egypt, a baby boy is born to a peasant woman. His young sister leaves him in a basket in a river, hiding in the rushes to watch over him until a princess comes to claim the child as her own. She names him Moses, and he grows to become a man whose life is characterized by violence and terror, but equally by faith, and whose sacrifice


Under the shadow of ancient Egypt, a baby boy is born to a peasant woman. His young sister leaves him in a basket in a river, hiding in the rushes to watch over him until a princess comes to claim the child as her own. She names him Moses, and he grows to become a man whose life is characterized by violence and terror, but equally by faith, and whose sacrifice ultimately leads to the redemption and liberation of his people from slavery. Told from the perspective of the women who loved him, from his mother and sister, who saved him by giving him up, to the Egyptian princess who adopted him, to the shepherd's daughter he married, this epic novel of passion and intrigue offers a fresh perspective on the man who received the 10 Commandments, parted the Red Sea, and led God's people out of Egypt: Moses, one of the most enigmatic figures in Biblical history.

Author Biography: Angela Elwell Hunt is an established and successful CBA author. She lives with her youth pastor husband, Gary, and their two teenagers in Florida.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Touted as rivaling Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, this novel by the prolific evangelical Christian author Hunt starts well, but falters toward the end. In a series of first-person narratives, the life of Moses unfolds through the eyes of three women: his sister Miryam, Egyptian foster mother Merytamon and young Midianite wife, Zipporah. Hunt's writing is at its most compelling as she recounts life in the Egyptian palace through Merytamon, capturing her fears of losing Moses if his Hebrew heritage is made known. Unfortunately, the novel suffers from glitches just as events are coming to a climax. When Moses kills an Egyptian overseer, the event seems contrived, and Hunt's recountings of the plagues God visits on the Egyptians range from spine-tingling to yawn-inducing. Chapters tend to be either too short (half a page) or too long (74 pages), and Hunt habitually tells rather than shows. Although there are brief revivals in the storytelling (as when Miryam sojourns in the wilderness while suffering from leprosy), the novel never quite regains its early momentum. Still, it's a much more CBA-friendly tale than Diamant's (a circumcision is described without the word "penis" being mentioned, for example), and Hunt's portrayal of Moses is more accessible and upbeat than Simone Zelitch's in Moses in Sinai. Hunt is one of the CBA's more polished novelists, and conservative Christian readers who dismissed The Red Tent for its edgy spirituality and frank sexuality will find little to quibble with here and much to enjoy. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Fans of Anita Diament's The Red Tent will love this retelling of the story of Moses through the eyes of the three women in his life: his adoptive mother, the young Egyptian princess Merytamon; his sister, the spirited and proud Miryam; and his devoted but pagan wife Zipporah. The theme of the novel is implicit in the title and in the epigraph from Darien Hayne's poem "Reflections": "If not for the shadow women there would be no play." The backstage role of women in the Bible sets the scene for the powerful acts of men called by a god superior to all others. In the end, all must come to love and serve Him. Crammed with facts regarding Egyptian and Hebrew customs, religion, and history along with giving plausible motivations for why the people of Bible legend made the decisions they did, the book is a romance devoid of graphic sexual content. Young women looking for confirmation of beliefs they already have, an affirmation of the importance of women, and a personalization of figures from the Bible will read this with enjoyment. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2002, Warner, 390p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Myrna Dee Marler
Library Journal - Library Journal
The three main women in Moses's life narrate his dramatic story from their perspectives. Miryam, his seven-year-old sister, and Merytamon, his 14-year-old adoptive mother, cover his early years as an Egyptian prince. Nine-year-old Zipporah, his future wife, tells of Moses' time with her father, a priest, and their family. After God reveals himself to Moses, Miryam recounts the liberation of the Jewish people and their escape from Egypt, and Zipporah and Miryam recall the years in the wilderness. The animosity and jealousy Miryam feels for both Merytomon and Zipporah flood the narrative, poisoning their happiness, but Moses takes scant notice, focused as he is on his task of serving God. Hunt's (The Immortal; The Note) sure writing and attention to fascinating details, such as Egyptian make-up customs and the cooking techniques of nomadic desert dwellers, add new dimensions to an overly familiar tale. Give this deftly handled treatment of shadow women from the Bible to fans of Anita Diamant's The Red Tent and book discussion groups.

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Recorded Books, LLC
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Unabridged, 12 cassettes, 1005 minutes

Read an Excerpt

The Shadow Women

By Angela Elwell Hunt

Warner Faith

Copyright © 2002 Angela Hunt Communications, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-69232-8

Chapter One


Now a new king arose over Egypt, who had not known Yosef. He said to his people: Here (this) people, the Children of Israel, is many more and mightier (in number) than we! Come-now, let us use our wits against it, lest it become many-more, and then, if war should occur, it too be added to our enemies and make war upon us or go up away from the land!

So they set gang-captains over it, to afflict it with their burdens. It built storage-cities for Pharaoh-Pitom and Ra'amses ...

Now Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying: Every son that is born, throw him into the Nile, but let every daughter live.

Now a man from the house of Levi went and took (to wife) a daughter of Levi. The woman became pregnant and bore a son. When she saw him-that he was goodly, she hid him for three months. And when she was no longer able to hide him, she took for him a little ark of papyrus, she loamed it with loam and with pitch, placed the child in it, and placed it in the reeds by the shore of the Nile. EXODUS 1:8-11; 2:1-3


In my seventh year, as the waters of the inundation rose to cover our fields, I noticed a subtle change in my mother. Yokheved, who usually hurried from one task to the next in thin-lipped concentration, became quiet and dreamy. She hummed the old songs as she worked the dough and cut the reeds, and at night she lit the lamp in our small hut and murmured her evening prayers with renewed fervency.

Neither my father nor my mother explained this change, and my little brother, Aharon, knew nothing of women-at three, he cared for little more than his next meal. My aunt Adah, however, who had always longed for a little girl, drew me onto her lap one afternoon and spoke of the secret my mother carried.

"Your mother, Yokheved, is going to have a baby," she whispered, the corners of her eyes crinkling. "And if the God of our fathers is faithful, this baby will grow to be a man strong enough to deliver us from this bondage."

I knew nothing of bondage then, for we children were as free as the birds who lived in the marsh, but I knew babies were dangerous. Twice in the last month Pharaoh's soldiers had come into our village and taken boy babies away from their weeping mothers. Though no one would tell me what happened to those baby boys, I knew. Once I followed the soldiers to the edge of the marsh, where their boat waited. They climbed aboard the vessel with the crying baby, but as the boat drifted into the river's current, one of them dropped the baby over the side as if it were of no more importance than dung. I heard a splash, then nothing but silence as the baby disappeared forever.

Why did my mother think the Egyptians would not come for her baby boy?

My eyes fell upon my brother, Aharon, whose life, everyone assured me, was a sort of miracle. The midwives who attended my brother's birth had been supposed to kill him in Pharaoh's name, but they would not. Those two old women did not look capable of killing anyone, and they often patted my head when they came to our village. But they always rejoiced more over the birth of boys than the arrival of baby girls, and their obvious preference puzzled me.

Why should boys be more celebrated than girls? Girls did all the work in the village. Girls grew into women who bore the babies and cooked the meals. Women told the stories and said the prayers. Boys grew into men who got up every morning, went away for a few hours, came back, ate dinner, and went to sleep.

So why were they so prized?

Aharon was certainly nothing special. He was like one of the dogs that lived in our village-always following, always rubbing against my leg, always sticking his nose into my things. Yet my mother doted upon him, pulling him onto her lap at night while she crooned the old songs until he had fallen asleep....

I do not remember her ever singing to me.

"This new baby," Aunt Adah said as she fondly patted my leg, "might be the leader for which we have been praying."

This remark caught my attention. Not many of the women in our village prayed at all; a few actually presented offerings to carved statues of the Egyptian gods. But my mother prayed to an unseen God she could not even call by name.

"So you must help your mother more in the days ahead," Adah continued, "and you must keep her secret from the others as long as you can.

And the Egyptians must never, ever know that a new baby has been born in Amram's house."

I nodded, knowing that Adah would take my silence for agreement, while I wondered why things in our house had to change. I did not want another brother; I did not want to have to help my mother keep a secret. Most of all, I did not want my mother to do anything that would bring the Egyptians to our village.

But I was only a girl, and a little one at that. So no one asked what I wanted.

No one seemed to care.


Excerpted from The Shadow Women by Angela Elwell Hunt Copyright © 2002 by Angela Hunt Communications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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The Shadow Women 4.3 out of 5 based on 6 ratings. 15 reviews.
K-Everett More than 1 year ago
"The Shadow Women" was excellent! I really got the sense on how it was to live in the days of Moses. At the end of the book there are questions and answers about the book. I thought that was great. I've been reading more christian historical fiction and it was nice that some scenes were exsplained. Such as why the author added a certain part and if a story that was told could have been true. I did not give 5 stars because I thought there was way to much about Egyptian culture.
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Bookworm33LD More than 1 year ago
This book was wee researched and brought the biblical characters to life. I enjoyed it so much I purchased another book by the same author as soon as I finished this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mz Hunt has a way of bringing new life to an old story. She put lots of study into this book. Much research on lifestyle and such. Great book. Looking forward to more of her books.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
When the name Moses is said, the image most likely that comes to mind is Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea or thundering down Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments in hand. Yet, there is much more to the character, and Ms. Hunt uses the women of his life to show modern readers that. ................. His sister Miryam sees Moses' (Moshe) life begin. Though under orders from their Egyptian overlords to kill all newborn males, her mother tries to hide her child, until it is absalutely neccessary to place him an in ark like Noah's, and put him in the Nile. There he is found by Pharoh's daughter - wife, Merytam, the child of Ramses most loved wife, Neferrtitti, and Pharoh's most recent wife. She is barren, and seeks an answer from her gods to hide the condition that would exile her to the harems for the rest of her life. Finding the baby solves her problem, though keeping him alive in the face of coniving, jealous court advisors will not be easy. Perhaps it is only her desperate prayer to the unknown God of the Hebrews that saves her 'son's' life. ............... Moses grows to adulthood, never dreaming that he is one of the 'mud people' that his people have enslaved. Learning the truth triggers an incident that sets off his rage and reveals his secret. Exiled and outcast, Moses flees to the lands far from Egypt, and makes a new life as a shepherd, until he is sent back to Egypt by God, with the mission of freeing his people. ............. Moses is a man without a people, though. He is rejected by Egyptian and Hebrew alike, but he is determined in his quest, and through God's power, he is able to bring his people into the wilderness. As they travel towards the Promised Land, the way is hard, and the people rebellious. On the way, he suffers great loss and many trials. Through them all, his wife and sister watch and support him, despite their resentments and misgivings. ............ **** If you have ever thought a historical novel would be boring, then read this one and change your mind. It is fascinating and true to the Biblical account, though more detailed and sheds light on things that may mystify readers of the Bible. Like the MISTS OF AVALON, the story is told by varied perspectives, but in this case, it is a true story, and one that will increase your faith. ****
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the historical accounts of egypt. It reminded me of the need to be obedient to God's word, and do what He asks you to do. So many other people can get hurt if you arent in step with the Lord. It was a wonderful book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
THE SHADOW WOMEN is an interesting biographical fiction focusing on the life of Moses through the first hand accounts of the three women who most influenced his life by loving and caring for him. Readers obtain an insightful perspective of the Hebrew leader filtered through the lenses of his sister Miryam, his Egyptian mother Merytamon, and his Bedouin wife Zipporah as each tell their side of the story. Seven years old Miryam saves her infant brother¿s life and as an adult lives more like a male leader until her personal encounter with God. Merytamon, needing a baby to cement her position, finds the infant floating amidst the reeds and raises the child with love as if he came from her womb. Zipporah shows her courage when she marries her ¿teacher¿ whom in many ways seems her superior yet she proves that she is his loving partner. The background descriptions are quite powerful reminiscent of Anita DIAMANT'S THE RED TENT, but avoiding the sexual connotations of the latter novel as the targeted audience is quite obvious conservative Christian, especially with the controversial ending. Though inconsistent at times, Angela Elwell Hunt sculptures an engaging look at the man who never quite made it into Canaan that will please her chosen readers. Harriet Klausner