A Reluctant Queen
By: Joan Wolf
Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers
When I read historical fiction, and especially fiction based on a Biblical character, I am always looking for the facts to line up just right. If they don't, it takes away from the fun and excitement of the story, and I begin reading critically. That's what happened when I read A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf, based on the life of Esther.
A Reluctant Queen begins with Esther as a young teenage girl who is the beloved niece in the house of Mordecai. Eventually we find that Esther is half Jew through her mother and half Achaemenid Persian through her father. Esther is told by her uncle and her rabbi that she must be their "ear" to the king, and therefore she eventually submits herself as an unwilling candidate to be the new queen. To her surprise, she is chosen, and even more of a shock she likes this king. Esther finds herself in a position to influence the king, although she chooses not to do so. She deals with her own personal jealousy (of the harem and the king's two favorite concubines), which leads to her graciously finding husbands for the younger women in the harem and jobs for the older women, as well as making the eunuchs her own personal regiment of body guards. She watches the jealousy of Haman with her uncle, Mordecai. She struggles with her faith. She finally realizes that she really was put in her position by God, to save her people. Through it all she keeps the love of everyone around her, including the love of the king.
It is my personal belief that Biblical novels need to be as close to the Bible as possible. Otherwise, the truth of the Bible is lost and you just have a novel. Although I enjoyed reading the story, I had a hard time getting past the fact that the majority of Ms. Wolf's facts did not line up with the Bible. I cannot recommend this book as historical, Biblical fiction, and because the book is supposed to be based on the life of the Biblical Esther, I have a hard time recommending this book as just a fun read for non-Christians.
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