~ About the Book ~
Born in the small village of Modein, a town made famous by the warrior Maccabees, Salome Alexandra knows better than to harbor grand dreams for her future. She pales in comparison to her beautiful older sister, and though she learns to read at an early age, girls are not valued for their intellectual ability. But when her father and sister are killed, John Hyrcanus, a distant relative, invites Salome and her mother to live with his family in Jerusalem, where her thirst for knowledge is noticed and indulged.
When her guardian betroths her to a pagan prince, she questions HaShem’s plan. When Hyrcanus finally marries her to a boy half her age, she questions her guardian’s sanity. But though Salome spends much of her life as a pawn ordered about by powerful men, she learns that a woman committed to HaShem can change the world.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: #3 The Silent Years
Release date: 6 November 2018
Publisher: Bethany House
~ Excerpt ~
“Tell me, dear girl—have you ever considered the possibility that you might one day be a queen?”
I frowned. I had never dreamed of such a thing before this trip, and after hearing Cleopatra Thea’s sad history—
“In truth, O queen, I do not think I would like it.”
“Why not?” She smiled, but all traces of humor had vanished from her eyes.
I drew a deep breath. I didn’t want to insult the woman, but surely she could not deny that she had experienced myriad sorrows and trials resulting from her position. If she had been a merchant’s wife, would someone have stolen her baby? Would a tyrant have murdered her son?
“I am not sure what I want,” I said. “I have been assured that HaShem has a special plan for me, but I do not know what it is. But just as our father Abraham waited to see his descendants become as numerous as the sand in the sea, I am content to wait in faith that HaShem will bring His will to pass.”
“Abraham is dead.” The queen directed her dark gaze toward my uncle. “Surely you do not think your God will make something of your life when you are in the grave.”
“I beg the queen’s pardon, but HaShem can do anything He wills to do. He created the world in seven days. He hung the stars in their places. He created life and light out of nothing, so death is nothing to Him.”
“You have a gift for conversation, but you have not answered my question. Why would you not like being queen? You could have power. You could have wealth. You could have anything you desired, and men would spring to do your bidding.”
I looked at the floor and slowly shook my head. “If only it were so.”
I lifted my chin to boldly look her in the eyes. “I am not unfamiliar with your life, O queen. You have power, but you have paid dearly for it. You have wealth, but it brings you no joy, for you are dressed even more simply than my mother. You can have anything you desire, and hundreds of servants obey your command, but you cannot retrieve the things you have lost—like your son. Your family.”
I glanced at my uncle, whose back had gone straight as a spear. While he might be displeased with me, I would answer honestly.
“I have heard that people once spoke of making Judah Maccabaeus king, but he would have none of it. I think he was wise as well as strong. I think he may have been the wisest of all the Hasmoneans—save for my uncle, of course.”
The queen looked at Uncle with burning eyes, then gestured to the youth at her side. “I should introduce my son, Prince Antiochus VIII, my heir. Son, let me present Salome Alexandra, from Judah’s Hasmonean dynasty.”
Not sure what to do, I stood and bowed before him, then lifted my head. A frown had crept between his brows, though I could barely see it due to the shadow of that monumental nose.
“Perhaps you two would like to walk in the garden,” the queen said, “while I talk with John Hyrcanus. We have matters of business to discuss.”
~ Review ~
I’m conflicted over this novel. On the one hand, as a history-lover, I felt it had a lot going for it. It was well researched, it brought to life a period of history that was hitherto unknown to me, and it gave me a protagonist who was anticipating the promised Messiah. I love fiction that explores how God’s faithful viewed and interpreted Scripture prior to the New Testament period, and have found this “Silent Years” series all the more interesting for dealing with a period of time not covered in Scripture.
And yet, as a story-lover, I found it somewhat dissatisfying. I had a teacher at school who was known for the unsympathetic mantra “Life’s tough, then you die,” and that felt a little too true in Salome’s case. In all fairness, Angela Hunt didn’t have a lot to work with. Salome married a guy thirteen years younger than her who was nothing to write home about (well, maybe he was, but not in a good way!). In fact, with the exception of Salome’s servant Kissa (who is an invention of the author, as far as I can make out), there was virtually no one in Salome’s life who did not cause her grief. Not even her children were an exception, much as she loved them.
Even so, I think I could have endured all of that if there had felt like more of a payoff at the end. Instead, her actual reign as queen is summarised in the short epilogue, so it felt a little like I was cut off right at the moment when I was finally about to share in her achievements. And just when it seemed like she might find some personal joy in her life, she denied herself for reasons I didn’t totally understand—apart from the fact that it would have been altering history to have it happen.
So I guess my recommendation is to consider what you’re looking for when you pick this book up. If it’s a close-up of this period of history, go for it. As a story, however, you may find it less satisfying.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Previous Book in the Series ~
~ About the Author ~
Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With nearly five million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to novels.
Now that her two children are grown, Angie and her youth-pastor husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards–one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City. Afterward, the dog gave out paw-tographs at the airport.
When she’s not home writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course.