Genre: Romantic Historical Fiction
Joan Wolf offers a fresh perspective on the story of Esther, and she gave me a lot to think about. But this story takes too many liberties with its historical account–let alone its biblical one. There were small errors, like Esther being called Esther before the contest to become queen, rather than by her Hebrew name, Hadassah, and Haman being portrayed as an Edomite when he was actually an Agagite, and the use of the Hebrew calendar in setting Persian decrees. But there were also larger issues: changes to the royal line, like with King Ahasuerus having a brother Xerxes (most scholars believe they are one in the same), and the Prophet Obadiah attempting to stir up unrest in Palestine (while the biblical Obadiah was not prophesying at the same time as Esther’s reign and the stories do not naturally fit together).
As a story, I also felt that many places–especially in the beginning and end–were a bit rough. The first few chapters were especially awkward as the historical setting was laid through the dialog rather than the narration. I was also hoping it would have a bit of a Jewish feel, which it did not. And the end was, unfortunately, anticlimactic–certain deviations from the original story took away from the drama and suspense of the plot. Frankly, I’m surprised that some of the best moments of Esther’s story were omitted!
Overall, I’m glad I read A Reluctant Queen because it did help me to think about Esther, and myself, in a new way. But I also can’t recommend it; it’s in need of some serious editing!
I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogging Program through booksneeze.com.