You've read it as a biblical tale of courage. Experience it anew as a heart-stirring love story.
She was a simple girl faced with an impossible choice. He was a magnificent king with a lonely heart.
Their love was the divine surprise that changed the course of history.
The beloved story of Esther springs to fresh life in this inspired novel that vibrates with mystery, intrigue, and romance.
"Joan Wolf never fails to deliver the best!" —Nora Roberts
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.18(h) x 1.02(d)|
About the Author
Joan Wolf was born in New York City but has lived most of her adult life in Connecticut with her husband,two children, and numerous pets.She's the author of A Reluctant Queen and The Road to Avalon lauded as "historical fiction at its finest" by Publisher's Weekly.
Read an Excerpt
A Reluctant QueenThe Love Story of Esther
By Joan Wolf
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Joan Wolf
All right reserved.
Chapter One485 BC
Esther rose early as usual. She dressed in her brown robe and overtunic, fitted her veil over her long black hair, and went out to the courtyard behind her uncle's house to begin making the day's bread—more than she and her uncle needed because she gave some to the old women in their community every day. By the time Mordecai came into the courtyard, she had kneaded the dough and set the loaves out to rise.
"Tired, Uncle?" Esther asked in a teasing tone as she saw Mordecai yawn. "The Great King's feast kept you up late last night."
Mordecai smiled ruefully. "Far later than I care to be out, chicken. But I had no choice. All of the palace staff was invited and the Head Treasurer would have noticed if I did not appear for the king's birthday."
He took a seat on the bench at the small table in the courtyard and Esther began to assemble their breakfast. The plates contained dates and figs and slices of yesterday's bread, which Esther had warmed in the outdoor oven. She fetched cups of water from inside the house, Mordecai said the blessing over the food, and silence fell as they ate.
Esther waited until her uncle had finished before she spoke again. She and her friends were all curious about the new king, Ahasuerus, who had only recently arrived in Susa, the capital of the Persian Empire. It had been a huge surprise two years ago when the old king, Darius, had chosen him over his other son, Xerxes, and it made him an intriguing figure. But the real reason for the girls' interest was the gossip they had heard in the marketplace that the king was the most handsome man who ever lived.
Unfortunately, the Jewish girls who made up Esther's circle would probably never have an opportunity to see this paragon for themselves, but they hoped that Esther's uncle might have seen him at the feast.
"Did you get to see the king, Uncle?"
Mordecai pushed his plate a little away from him. "No, Esther, I did not. We menials were crowded into the Apanada, while the king and the Royal Kin dined inside in splendor. But I must say that we were treated well. There were huge quantities of meat and fowl: horses, camels, oxen, donkeys, deer, ostriches, geese; the countryside must have been decimated to provide so much food. The wine served was from Damascus, I was told, and everyone assured me it was excellent."
"Did you at least take a cup of water?" Esther asked.
Mordecai gave her a stern look and did not reply.
Esther wasn't surprised. The Jewish community to which they belonged held strictly to the Mosaic dietary laws. Even a cup from a Persian kitchen would be unclean for Mordecai.
Esther thought about how thirsty her uncle must have been and sighed. His look grew sterner. "The Law is the Law, Esther. Except if you're that weasel Ezra and his friends. They were eating and drinking without a thought for what it means to be Jewish." His lip curled in disgust. "They were as drunk as the Persians by the end of the evening."
This was one topic that Mordecai could hold forth about for a long time. The Susa Jews were broken into two sects. The smaller one, to which Mordecai belonged, held strictly to Mosaic Law. The other sect, comprised of most of the wealthy Jewish merchants in the city, had assumed many of the ways of the Persians among whom they lived.
Esther nodded impatiently.
Mordecai continued, "It's a disgrace. That the descendants of Abraham and Moses should turn their backs on the Torah and seek to become like these pleasure-loving Persians! It was Nebuchadnezzar who forced us out of our homeland of Judah and dragged us into years of subjugation in Babylon. Now these traitor Jews seek to imitate the very people who enslaved us? Bah! It is disgusting."
Esther tried her best to cheer him. "You taught me the scriptures, so I know that such a thing has happened many times before, and we always survived. We are God's chosen people, Uncle. No matter how many may turn away from the Covenant, we will always triumph in the end."
He grunted, looking only slightly mollified.
Esther attempted to steer the conversation back to their original topic. "Even if you didn't get to see the king last night, I'm sure you will see him soon. After all, you work right there in the palace. And he is going to reside in Susa now, isn't he?"
"Yes, it appears he has decided it is time he took up the reins of government here in the capital. He's been Great King for almost two years, but first there was that rebellion in Egypt that he had to put down, and next he decided to go to his summer palace in Ecbatana to escape the summer heat. But I understand that he has come to Susa for good."
Esther reached across the table for her uncle's empty plate and put it on top of her own. "There is still a chance that Rachel got to go with her brother to the procession through the city yesterday. Ahasuerus was riding in his golden chariot and she might have gotten a good look at him. I know that Sarah and Rebecca weren't allowed to go. Nor was I." This last statement was accompanied by a faintly reproachful look at her uncle.
Mordecai regarded her with a trace of amusement. "I am asking myself, why would a group of nice Jewish girls be so interested in the Great King of Persia?"
Esther grinned. "Because he's supposed to be so magnificently handsome. We want to know if it's true or not."
Mordecai's thin, intelligent face became instantly grave. "I hope you have enough sense not to be swayed by a good-looking face, Esther." His voice was as severe as his expression. "That's what happened to your mother, and look what it brought her."
"It's just a game we're playing, Uncle Mordecai. We're not really interested in the king." Her voice softened. "I will never run away from you, dear Uncle. You have always been so good to me. And I love you."
Mordecai looked away, both embarrassed and touched by her statement. She waited for him to resume the conversation and finally he said, "I may not have seen the king, chicken, but I do have some exciting news to tell you about the feast."
Esther's interest sparked. "You do?"
"Yes, indeed. It was quite an extraordinary thing. None of us in the Apanada saw it, but we heard about it as we were leaving. Soon all of Susa will hear about it, but here is a chance for you to be first with the news to your friends."
Esther's eyes widened and she leaned forward. "What happened?" she breathed.
"The king sent for his wife, Vashti, to show herself at the banquet."
Esther's mouth opened in amazement. Persian women were kept sequestered, allowed to see no males but their husbands or blood kin. Such a summons would be unthinkable in Persian society.
"Before all those men?" she asked.
"Yes." Mordecai raised his graying eyebrows. "And unveiled, because he said he wanted them to see how beautiful she was."
Esther gasped. "A Persian woman would never do that!"
"Exactly. She refused, and apparently that made the king angry. I'm sure he was drunk. All of the Persians had been drinking for days."
"What happened next?"
"The king issued a royal decree, right there in the banquet room. He was angry, but I've heard his anger runs cold, not hot. So he issued this decree, with perfect clarity, stating that Vashti's refusal to obey her husband's request was a violation of her marriage vow and a dangerous example to the women of Persia. Therefore she was no longer his wife."
"But he put her in an impossible situation! It would have been wrong of her to show herself, and it was wrong of her to disobey him. How could she choose correctly?"
"It was a diabolically clever move," Mordecai said with a tinge of admiration in his voice. "Everyone knows he never wanted to marry Vashti. Now he is rid of her."
"I think it was a horrible thing to do." Esther glared at her uncle. "Poor Vashti. How she must feel!"
Mordecai shrugged. "I think Ahasuerus means to rule. Vashti was pushed on him by his father, and now that Darius is dead, Ahasuerus wants a fresh start, unencumbered by a politically connected wife."
"How terrible it must be to be a Persian woman. To be unable to walk to the market or visit friends, to have to cover up your face and hide inside a harem and never get to see the men of your community." She shivered. "I thank God, Uncle Mordecai, that you brought me up to be a Jew."
"You always were a Jew, Esther," Mordecai assured her. "Your father might have been Persian, but a Jew is defined as the child of a Jewish mother. Among our people, the father's blood does not count."
Mordecai rose from his bench. "Now I must wash and go to the palace." He gave a grim little smile. "The place will be buzzing with speculation and gossip. Everyone will want to know what is going to happen next."
Esther watched her uncle depart, but instead of removing the breakfast plates, she leaned her elbows on the table and rested her chin in her hands. The morning sun was warm, not hot, and it felt comforting on her shoulders and head.
Poor Vashti. Her mind turned to what she had said to her uncle about being glad she had been raised as a Jew.
Her life might have been very different had that not happened. When her mother had been only a little older than Esther was now, she had eloped with a Persian cavalry lieutenant. After her father had been killed in battle, her mother's brother, Mordecai, had taken her mother and Esther home to Susa; Esther had been two years old at the time. Her mother had died when Esther was only six. Since Mordecai had not remarried after the death of his wife, for many years it had been just the two of them in the tidy, mudbrick house in the Jewish quarter of Susa.
Esther knew nothing about her father except that her mother had loved him enough to turn her back on her own family and community to follow him. When Esther was small she had once asked Mordecai to tell her about him, and her uncle had shown that stern face she always obeyed and commanded her never to mention her father to him again. She had never done so.
But sometimes she thought about this Persian father of hers, who had stolen her mother's heart and then died tragically at a young age. Her mother must have been brave. Esther knew she could never do such a mad thing. She was comfortable in her familiar surroundings: her small, tight community; her friends; her beloved Uncle Mordecai. She was fifteen and knew that one day she would get married. She liked her best friend's brother, Abraham, and she thought he liked her. But she was in no hurry to leave home. No hurry at all.
* * *
That afternoon Esther joined the other women from her street for their weekly visit to the local market. All of the Jews in her community patronized this particular market because it was the only place in Susa that offered meat and fowl that had been ritually killed and dressed by a trained Jewish butcher.
Esther's clothing was nicer than the clothes she wore to work around the house; today she wore a long white tunic encircled with a narrow leather belt, and over that a shorter robe in green that opened at the front. Her long black hair was braided, wound into a bun and covered by a light veil with a simple gold fillet. On her feet she wore soft leather sandals. It was a style of dress adapted to the hot climate of Persia, and most inhabitants of Susa, male and female, wore some variation of it.
Esther walked through the familiar narrow streets of her neighborhood chatting to her neighbor, Naomi. Naomi had always looked out for Esther, inviting her over to spend time with her own children so Esther would not be lonely. After the initial polite greetings, Esther related the tale she had heard from Mordecai about what had happened at last night's feast. Some of the other women overheard what she was saying, and by the time they reached the market everyone had the news.
The Jewish women kept together as they made their way from stall to stall. The market was both noisy and colorful: the cries of the vendors, the chatter of Aramaic spoken with the accents of countries from all over the empire, the stalls heaped with colorful produce from the countryside, even live lambs and bullocks for slaughter. Esther and Naomi were examining a display of delicious-looking pomegranates when they heard someone call Esther's name. Both women turned their heads.
"Rachel!" Esther said in surprise. "What are you doing here?" Rachel was Esther's closest friend, a small, dark girl with the long-lashed eyes of a deer. Since her father was a rich merchant, the servants usually did all of their household shopping.
A young man stepped up to stand beside Rachel. "She has a nice piece of gossip that she can't wait to tell you, that's what she's doing here."
"Abraham." Esther smiled up at her friend's tall, well-built brother. "Did she make you bring her?"
"She did," he replied.
"We went to your house first and when you weren't there, I remembered this was your market day," Rachel explained.
Naomi commanded, "Come away from the stall, girls. We are impeding people who wish to buy." She shooed the young people out of the way, then turned to Rachel. "Now, what is this gossip that is so urgent you must seek Esther out at the market to tell it to her?"
"The king has put away Vashti!" Rachel said, looking around to see the effect her dramatic revelation had on the others.
Naomi's face broke into a small, satisfied smile. "Oh, that. We already know all about that from Esther."
Rachel's face fell and she turned to Esther, her brown eyes bright with accusation. "Your uncle told you! Why didn't you come right away to tell me?"
"I was going to come to your house after I finished the marketing," Esther apologized.
"Isn't it dreadful?" Rachel demanded. "He put her away for not obeying his command to show herself. How could she be expected to do that?"
"Uncle Mordecai thinks he wanted to get rid of Vashti for political purposes."
Abraham nodded agreement. "It's politics, all right. The court is divided into the party that wants to go to war against Greece and the party that doesn't. Vashti's family evidently belonged to the wrong party."
Esther shivered at the thought of how terrible it must be to have your whole life ruled by the vagaries of politics. "I'm glad I'm not a Persian woman," she said.
"Me too," Rachel agreed.
Naomi looked from one girl to the other. "A Jewish woman can be divorced against her will, girls. You must know that."
"Yes, but that can only happen if the wife has committed adultery," Rachel replied.
"That's not true," Naomi said. "A Jewish man can put his wife away by simply giving her a bill of divorcement. The marriage is immediately dissolved, even if the wife doesn't agree."
Rachel frowned. "But doesn't he have to give a reason?"
Naomi patted her arm. "Believe me, Rachel, if a man wants to get rid of a woman, he will find a reason."
Rachel was horrified. "But ... if the wife is forced to leave her husband, where does she go?"
"She goes home to her parents. Where else can she go?"
The autumn sun was warm, but Esther suddenly felt chilled. If her future husband should grow tired of her, could he divorce her because she was half-Persian? She pulled her robe closer to her body. It was as if the tightness and security of her little community had suddenly been breached and the world was a less kind and stable place than she had thought.
* * *
That evening, over supper in the courtyard, Esther asked Mordecai if what Naomi had said about Jewish divorce was true. He confirmed that it was.
She toyed with her bread, her eyes avoiding his. "What if that should happen to me?"
"It won't happen to you, chicken. No man would ever want to put you away."
"You say that because you love me, Uncle Mordecai."
"Esther, look at me." He waited until her eyes were looking directly into his. "Do you trust me?"
"Of course I trust you."
"Then know that I would never give you into the keeping of a man whom I did not think would take care of you for the rest of your life. Do you trust me to do that?"
She smiled. "Yes, Uncle Mordecai, I do."
"Then finish your dinner," he said with mock sternness, and obediently she took a bite of her fish.
Excerpted from A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf Copyright © 2011 by Joan Wolf. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
So good! Some of it is fiction, but that is sometimes necessary to create and hold interest in a story. This story was already beautiful in the Bible. Now its riviting!
While this is not the verse by verse bibical story of Esther, it is a beautiful love story between a man and a woman from different backgrounds, beliefs and culture, and a God and his nation. I look forward to more by this author.
Characters are well thought out and developed. I especially liked that the author explained the social customs of the time period in her retelling of the story. Will reread again-one of my favorites!
Political intrigue, mystery, suspense and romance make up the plot for A Reluctant Queen - The Story of Esther by Joan Wolf. In this book, Ms. Wolf takes the story of Esther, the Queen of Persia, who risks her life to save the Jews from annihilation, and turns it into a fictional love story between Esther and Ahasuerus. Esther, a young Jewish girl, who was brought up by her uncle Mordecai, is convinced by her uncle to join the King's search for a new queen. Believing that this is God's direction in order for her to save her people, the Jews, she obeys her uncle. Her hope is that the King will not find her suitable to be his queen. After months of preparation, Esther is finally presented to the KIng. King Ahasuerus was so taken by Esther's beauty, honesty and intelligence that he immediately declares his search for the queen finally over. Now Esther must prepare her heart and mind to become not just the Queen, but the wife of a man she hardly knows. Will she be able to love him truly? As the Bible story goes, Haman, the King's trusted friend and 2nd-in-command plots to kill Mordecai and destroy all Jews. Now Esther must act to save her people from sure death. The big problem she faces is that the King has no idea that she, too, is a Jew. How can she face him now and tell him that all he knew about her is a Lie? Will the King divorce her as he had done with his previous wife, Vashti? Will she be able to save her uncle Mordecai from the hands of the treacherous Haman? Will she be able to save the Jews from annihilation? MY THOUGHTS Joan Wolf is a great storyteller! I have always believed that Esther's story was so amazing. As presented in A Reluctant Queen, Joan Wolf made Esther's love story even more beautiful and real. For two nights in a row, I have been living in the King's Palace in Susa. I witnessed Esther's growth from a terrified young girl, to a beautiful, self-assured Queen. The story is so powerful and moving. If it wasn't close to morning last night, I would have read it straight through. I loved how the love story of Esther and Ahasuerus was told, interspersed with many different supporting characters and sub-plots. Despite all the characters involved, the story flowed smoothly and beautifully. And behind it all, we witness how God's hand is at work in the life of Esther and that God's plans will be followed. I cannot say anything more except that, out of all the fiction I have read, this is by far, the best! Disclosure: I received a free Digital Galley of this book from Net Galley. However, I will receive a copy of this book for free from Litfuse Publicity. Both are given to me in exchange for this review.
It was a fun read but if your looking for much Biblical accuracy you won't find it. Many of the details from the Bible are dramatically changed. For me personally when I read Biblical fiction I like the parts we know to be true to be preserved while more details are imagined and woven into the story to help me more fully imagine their lives. This author took too many liberties for my taste. For example Esther's Persian Grandfather is who tells her about the edict to kill the Jews while Mordecai is in prison. Haman has made the proclimation without the knowlegde of the king while he is away and doesn't have time to return to stop it. I'll probably stick to other authors for this genre in the future.
This is a great read but if you are expecting it to be according to the Holy Bible, you will be disappointed. And the writer is greatly mistaken when, at the end of the book, he states there was no king Ahasuerus. The Holy Bible clearly states in The Book of Esther that, yes, there was the king named Ahasuerus. But writers and script writers of movies have always taken creative license, especially when it comes to stories of the Bible. But really, a great book. I couldn't put it down.
Joan Wolf in her new book, "A Reluctant Queen" published by Thomas Nelson takes us back in history to the Persian Empire and the time of Esther. The queen of Persian angers her king and is banished. Now the king has a contest to see who will be the new queen. So all the beautiful women are brought to the capital and the king spends the night with them. Esther, who really is a Jewish woman, finds out all the likes of the king and is prepared for her night with him. He is so taken with her Esther becomes queen. Haman becomes a trusted advisor to the king and plots to eliminate all the Jews from the Empire. How Esther is able to foil this plot could only be a Biblical event. Ms. Wolf took an exciting book from the Bible and has done an admirable work in adapting it to a fiction book. Ms. Wolf has made it much more romantic than the Bible portrays it but that is perfectly fine. Ms. Wolf states, in her author's note, that she compressed certain events; a 3 day fast becomes 1, 2 banquets become one and certain events are eliminated all together. This is where I have a problem. We take our historical fiction writers to task when they break from total accuracy and rightly so after all this is history we are talking about. When it comes to Bible stories I feel that the need for accuracy is even more required. After all this is The Bible we are talking about. I don't feel putting the scenes in would have destroyed the pacing actually, I feel, it would have increased the suspense and drama. Other than this issue Ms. Wolf has done a great job and I commend her for it. If you would like to listen to interviews with other authors and professionals please go to Kingdom Highlights where they are available On Demand. To listen to 24 hours non-stop Christian music please visit our internet radio station Kingdom Airwaves Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I¿ve always been fascinated by the Biblical story of Esther, how an ordinary girl could rise up to become queen of Persia and save her people from genocide. While A Reluctant Queen mirrors the main highlights from the Biblical account, it is important to point out that this book is VERY loosely based on the biblical book of Esther.In order to properly enjoy and review this book, I decided not to compare it to the real story in the Bible. Standing on its own, A Reluctant Queen is very romantic, hopeful and filled with political intrigue.Esther is a beautiful girl of mixed heritage (her mother was Jewish while her father was Persian) living in Susa with her uncle Mordecai. Fearing a plot to annihilate the Jewish people, Esther, at the request of Mordecai and other Jewish leaders, goes undercover into the King of Persia¿s harem and competes with other girls to become his wife. Young and scared, Esther never expects to actually like the handsome King Ahasuerus and is even more shocked when he chooses her to be his queen after only meeting her once. Ahasuerus is gorgeous, smart, kind, noble and completely swoon worthy. In other words, he is a perfect leading man. What starts out as a physical attraction grows into an awesome love between these two. The characters are very well rounded, especially Esther and Haman (the villain of the story). I loved getting to know Esther and seeing how she worked through her fears to get to the point of knowing that she was going to save her people or die trying. The political storyline in the book is very interesting as well.I liked A Reluctant Queen and I think readers who like Christian fiction and romance would enjoy it as well. Just keep in mind that it is a retelling and there are significant differences between the historical account of Queen Esther and this book. Content: Kissing, drinking, some violence and implied sex but nothing even remotely graphic. My Rating: Really Good!
This is an endearing love story of a young girl who unwillingly becomes a queen. It is written as a work of fiction, even though the story line is from the true story of Queen Esther in the book of Esther in the Bible. The author states at the end of the book, "Where the Bible story and the novel come together is in the underlying premise. God has a plan for the world, and He works His plan through the actions of humans. The big question is, will we allow God to work through us?" This was a very well written story, but I had a hard time distancing myself from the true story in the Bible. I kept thinking to myself that this or that didn't happen that way, or that the author left this out of the story, or I don't think it happened like that. It was not the author's problem, it was mine. She didn't try to stick to all the facts, she just wrote a love story and used the book of Esther as her seed from which the story grew. As long as you can read it as a purely fictional love story then you will enjoy this book a great deal.
"A Reluctant Queen, The Love Story of Esther", by Joan WolfThis book is a Christian Fictional story based upon The Book of Esther, from the Bible. It takes place during 485BC, in Susa, under the new leadership of the new King Ahasuerus, who spent his summers in Ecbattana where it was cooler, as Susa was so hot. Esther had been raised by her Uncle, Uncle Mordecai, after a massacre happened in her hometown of the land of Edomites, where they were then driven into exile in Babylon. During this invasion, both her parents were killed and Uncle Mordecai took her in as his own to raise her. Esther had been raised as a Jewish girl.There came a time when the Edomites sent a letter to the Great King asking him to confirm their rights to southern Judah. They got it, but, the Prophet,Obadiah were in a frenzy claiming Edomite stole southern Judah. Mordecai was worried about war breaking out and got an idea that if Esther got into the palace to represent the Jewish people, then she could be the one to help their people.Esther wasn't so sure about this plan. What about the boyfriend she had and was thinking of possibly marrying? Would he still be home waiting for her when she got back? Esther really didn't understand the role she would end up playing at the palace. What was her destiny meant to be? How could 'she' do anything that would help her people? The decision was made for her and she still couldn't quite understand why. She would be the one to go to the palace and take the chance of possibly marrying the King. She never thought it would happen to her. It would be one of the other girls. That's good, she thought, her father was not Jewish and this is how she would enter the palace, but would she even be accepted if the King knew her mother was Jewish? This fact would have to be kept secret. She got to the King's Harem and was greeted badly. Put down for how her hair and skin looked. Thus, started the beauty regime. Eventually the King does choose Esther as his Queen. She falls deeply in love with him, he deeply in love with her. She never tells him she is part Jewish until . . . this is when she finally understands why and what her role is to play as the Queen. Can't go on anymore because there will be to many spoilers! I think anyone who enjoys reading novels about the books of the Bible will enjoy this story very much and they will enjoy the story in historical detail.I really enjoyed this book a lot. I loved how the author turned this story into a book. I like it when the books of the Bible are turned into novels. It seems as if we can relate to them much better than reading the Book of the Bible by itself when it has been turned into a story that is much more easily understood. It certainly adds to the stories.This author took great care in writing this story to make sure the history and everything related exactly as it did in the Bible at that time. The last time I read a book like this that related to a book of the Bible was "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant, which turned out to be one of my favorite books. This book is also similar to "Hadassah, One Night with the King, A Novel" by Tommy Tenney.Personally, I really like the Books of the Bible turned into novels a lot. I love how the research is done to a "T", and how we can relate to the Bible story even better than what we can when it is woven into a story rather than just by reading the book of the Bible. I enjoy these novels very much when they are put into the perspective of their every day life back then. For us today, it is hard to read the books of the Bible when we don't understand the daily, routine life they had back then. It's wonderful when an author such as Joan Wolf comes along and puts these stories into novels that we can understand when they are so detailed such as this one it. I would read this book again, I enjoyed it so much. I give this book a 4.5 star.This book was provided to me for free by LitFuse Publicity Group in exchange for a review! Thanks to them for
A Reluctant Queen The love story of EstherJoan WolfThe book of Esther in the Bible has always been a book I longed for more of.. more detail, more insight into the times, more depth to the story. Joan Wolf has taken the book of Esther, created a scene rich in history and added dynamic characters to satisfy our imaginations as readers. Esther had a Jewish mother and a Persian father. Dad was killed early in Esther¿s life, leaving Mom and Esther living with Uncle Mordecai until Mom¿s death. Uncle Mordecai and Esther lived together for many years to come.Uncle Mordecai, years later has a dream that ¿the whole of the Jewish race was doomed to destruction¿. The Jews need to have someone on the inside to catch the King¿s ear. Uncle Mordecai requests of Esther that she enter the competition to become Queen, which the King began when he ousted his last king Vashti for her insubordination. Esther would use her lineage through her Persian father and disregard her Jewish heritage for the time being. After much prepping and time, Esther of course is chosen by the King Ahasuerus, following the Biblical account. Esther though finds herself falling in love with the King, and he with her.. ahh, the love story component. The life of a Queen is detailed so exquisitely that I could imagine the Queen¿s chambers, her beauty, and her love for the King. The historical places and descriptions brought to life the Biblical Esther in a beautiful novel.I appreciated the authors note on how she came to write this love story. ¿To turn the book of Esther into a novel, I had to give the characters humanly understandable reasons for acting as they did¿. Joan Wolf also writes ¿Where the bible story and novel come together is the underlying premise, God has a plan for the world, and He works His plan through the action of humans. The big question is, will we allow God to work through us?¿I received a free copy of A Reluctant Queen from Litfuse Group to review
Although this story is based on the Biblical account of Esther, the author took some fictional liberties in order to make this a love story. Since the Biblical account is firmly fixed in my mind, I didn¿t mind reading this fictionalized version. Often, we don¿t think of people from Bible times as people. They are lessons from which we learn Biblical truths and principles. But the truth is, they were real people with emotions just like ours. I doubt if it played out anything like this book details, but I am certain many of the emotions given to Esther by the author were true. In this book, Joan Wolf personifies Esther as a young Jewish girl living in Susa during the Persian rule. Joan¿s historical information enriches the characters and gives a tremendous setting to the story. Additional characters such as Esther¿s handmaid and eunuch guard also bring the story to life. What I appreciated was the emotional journey of Esther. Joan shows the doubts and fear Esther may have felt as she entered the competition to be queen. The fictional love story is a beautiful example of God's love for His children.This is an enjoyable read. I look forward to more from this author. This book was provided to me by LitFuse for review and blog tour. I am not required to write a positive review.
A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Queen Esther is a fictional account of the biblical story of Esther.The story of Esther is one of the few books in the bible that is about a woman. In A Reluctant Queen she is fifteen years old when she agrees to her Uncle Mordecai's scheme to win the ear of the Persian king, Ahasuerus, in order to secure the Jewish lands in Palestine.Esther is against the proposal, but enters the marriage contest that the King has decreed. All the beautiful woman are to come before him and he will judge who is most appropriate to become his new wife. Esther believes she will never be chosen, nor does she wish to be, and unhappily complies with all the primping and preening that occurs in order to properly attire herself to meet the King.On the day of her interview, Esther vows she will be an unwilling participant and by her actions, make the King wish to choose another. Esther didn't reckon on enjoying Ahasuerus' attention and personality. Growing up in a Jewish household, even though she is part Persian herself, Esther has come to believe that all Persian's are animals who are not to be trusted and when she finds herself liking the King, her life makes a turn in a direction she had hoped it never would.On that day that Esther takes her marriage vows, her life is irrevocably changed forever. Will she gain the trust of her husband and make amends for her people, in the name of God?? Or will her love for him keep her voice silent? As Esther comes to realize that their whole relationship is built on lies and that the King upholds the truth before any other moral tenet, she puts her faith in the hands of God and allows her destiny to flourish.As far as love stories go, I enjoyed this book. Esther was likeable in her innocence and naivety, although her age bothered me, she didn't come across as a mere fifteen year old girl, but someone older and wiser. I enjoyed reading her innermost thoughts about the patriarchal culture she lives in and her realization that woman were just tokens in a game, appalled and dismayed her and her religious belief system became rocky. I thought Joan Wolf captured that essence of woman remarkably and found it enlightening to read. King Ahasuerus was likeable also, his and Esther's romantic spark was a beautiful read. It had a touch of comedic appeal that was charming. I couldn't help but want these two together, without all the politics that lead them to each other involved, that is. The customs and practices of the different cultures was an interesting read, like how the King was able to divorce his first wife, I found that to be very clever.Though there are some truths inside the pages, for the most part, the story is a compilation of historical data with some fantasy thrown in. The fact that Xerxes and Ahasuerus were mayhaps the same person, works against having Xerxes as his brother in the novel, you have to keep to heart, that this is a work of fiction. Author Joan Wolf has taken a story, in which historical documentation is fleeting at best and incorporated another angle on the way things could have gone. From a romantic aspect, the book is a well-written, descriptive historical re-imaging of one woman's destiny as God's chosen instrument.
The Book of Esther is one of my favorite Bible stories from childhood because I had been enamored by a lovely illustrated version (at least, that¿s what I remember, although I do not recall the title). Among all the patriarchs and strong male figures of the Bible, it is great to see the few women like Esther as role models of strength and bravery. While her story focuses more on finding the courage to express her faith, I have always viewed the Book of Esther as a beautiful love story.A Reluctant Queen definitely brings the romance to life between Esther and the Great King of Persia without losing the main Biblical message. I loved how the Great King was portrayed ¿ how decent and intelligent he was! Not to mention his good humor, especially when Esther forgot that he was King and spoke her mind freely. The greatest moments are when the King teases Esther for getting embarrassed by what she says without thinking. Their relationship started on barely nothing except a royal whim, but it blossomed ¿ how it blossomed! ¿ into something that made me dance with delight!The only part I had trouble with was how Haman turned into the villain. In the original story, he is the one who is hell-bent on getting rid of all Jews and tries to utilize his trusted position with the King to do so. He focuses most of his anger toward Esther¿s uncle Mordecai. He seemed truly the villain! In A Reluctant Queen, Haman holds such a close, intimate friendship with the King. To watch him get that wrapped up in his personal issues and forget to protect his friend makes it seem like he became possessed by the Devil. I cannot fathom how blinded by jealousy Haman became in the end! It seemed a little random given how devoted he had been to the King¿s well-being ¿ which I suppose that was how the King and Esther felt when they discovered his betrayal!Joan Wolf created such a richly-detailed retelling that will surely captivate anyone who loves a good, tasteful romance! There is no better place to learn about Esther¿s story than A Reluctant Queen ¿ I guarantee that you will fall in love with Esther and her people!
I wish I was Esther.Strong, beautiful, courageous, intelligent, and honest. Such great morality and character that I want to know more about the "real" Esther.I loved how this book flowed, and I read it pretty quick too, not just because of the great writing but also the fantastic story told.Even if you don't know about these biblical people, you can easily fall into the story.A definite book for my must-read list!
I knew from the outset that this book was not going to be a retelling of the story of Esther using actual Biblical events, so the fact that a number of elements didn't follow the Bible's account of what happened didn't bother me. I also appreciated the fact that the author introduced it as a story being told in modern English, or that would have pulled me out of the story at times. I don't believe there was such a thing as Palestinian back in Esther's day. That's a more modern term. A few times the author switched point of view without warning, but I caught up quickly. I found her writing to be easy to follow, for the most part. Her characterization was definitely her greatest strength.Overall I really enjoyed the story. I found the motivation of each character to be believable even if it did not follow the way the Bible presents the story as it actually happened. The "love story" aspect of this novel was what intrigued me enough to want to read it. The fact that it was told with romantic themes made it that much more satisfying to me. The way that Esther did not want to be chosen and then found herself in that very situation was compelling. Then to discover she was attracted to him and actually liked him as a person made the love story that much more intriguing. I enjoyed experiencing their developing feelings along with them. I really liked the king and found him to be compassionate as well as heroic. Their passion for each other was palpable and very gratifying in a wholesome sort of way. Nothing was gratuitous and every love scene added to the story, in my opinion.
The story of Esther comes alive as she struggles with the weight of the possibility of losing the king or the annihilation of her people. She questions why she has become queen until she realizes the role she will play.
I am really loving this series of book about the lives of women from the bible. While I'm sure much of it is dramatized to help fill in the blanks in their stories, the way Joan Wolf brings them to life is amazing. She keeps them true to their story while filling in the little details to really bring them to life. Ester finds herself in a world completely different from her own when she is offered to King Ahasuerus as a potential bride. She must pretend not to be a Jew in the hopes that he will pick her from his harem filled with beautiful women as a wife. She is shocked to find herself chosen and is conflicted as to what she should do. There was a very touching and sweet romance in these pages as Esther and Ahasuerus came to know one another. It made Esther's deceit that much more difficult to manage. She also doubts her place in the plan her people have put together. Why would a great king listen to her about matters of any importance? But she is more important than any of them realize, and she is destined to help the Jewish people and save them in many ways. Ester became a very strong person as the story progressed, and even Ahasuerus was changed as he came to know her. A very moving story that I think anyone can enjoy.
This was a really good book,but several things the author wrote are inconsistent with what the Bible wrote and that disappointed me a little bit. I wish the author would have stuck more to the Bible and researched about what she wrote. I did enjoy it though,I liked how Esther really comes to love the king,and there are several other things I appreciated. Quite a good book overall :)
Could not put it down.
Despite Esther being one of my favorite biblical stories, I wasn’t sure about this work when I first started. The writing focused on quite a few mundane descriptions written like a laundry list, and I feared the entire book would be muddled with them. As the story progressed, it was as if the author got so wrapped up in telling the story, she forgot to throw in the drab descriptions. It was wonderful. I went from wanting to skim the passages to wanting to take in every word. Truly, The Reluctant Queen was an interesting take on the story of Esther. I never knew what to expect or how Esther would handle each situation. The king. He was a very attractive character. Despite the many problems he faced, he never lost his cool, always waited until he had the relevant facts before making a decision. A wise king. You’d think he was King Solomon. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic toward his plight. Speaking of sympathetic… one character I didn’t expect to feel any for was Haman. Ms. Wolf did a wonderful job giving him motive and making him human. He was actually a character I could root for and mentally say, “Don’t do it!” Despite knowing the biblical story, I hoped for the best for Haman. He was like the Sandman in Spiderman. “I’m not a bad person, I’ve just have bad luck.” Of course, Haman had a hand in his bad luck. Still… couldn’t help but feel bad for him. Bottom line: Ms. Wolf mentioned taking liberties with the story and embellishing at times. I think by doing so, she created a culturally rich piece with a realistic and fresh take. Over all, this was an enjoyable story of Esther. I received this work from the publisher in exchange for a review.