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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
A beloved biblical heroine, Queen Esther is joyfully remembered on the Jewish holiday of Purim for bravely revealing her Jewish heritage and saving her people from destruction. Now debut novelist Kohn probes the details of this cherished tale, and unveils a story both more sinister and more complex than readers of the Book of Esther ever realized.
Kohn's tension-filled prose reflects the dangers of the ancient Persian Empire and describes how a young Esther is brought to her cousin's home after being orphaned. Her intended husband, Mordechai, is charged with her care until she's old enough to wed, but thus far he has hidden his Jewish identity to procure an esteemed position in the king's court. And when Esther is captured to serve as a concubine for the king, Mordechai informs her that she must never let anyone know she's a Jew.
The Gilded Chamber is not just a Jewish story but a human one, as Esther grapples with the need to hide her identity. By refusing to acknowledge her heritage, she helps Mordechai retain his position, improves the lives of the women in the harem, and eventually rises to become the queen. But her silence is emotionally painful to keep, and it becomes indefensible when the evil courtier Haman proposes the killing of the Jewish people. (Summer 2004 Selection)