In this conclusion to Rivers's series about Jesus' matrilineal ancestors
(e.g., Unshaken), Mary is not the serene Madonna historically depicted in art.
She is instead a willful child, an unwed pregnant teenager thrilled that the
long-awaited Messiah will come from her and failing to understand why people
won't believe her when she tells them of her vision of an angel of the Lord.
Only after God appears to Joseph does he believe and wed Mary. From then on,
even though she loves her whole family, Jesus is Mary's sole focus, almost her
obsession. Before her faith can become strong enough to endure his
crucifixion, Mary must learn that her son was never really hers and that she
was the vessel through which God worked his grace. The Christy Award-winning
Rivers provides a fresh look at the historical Mary in much the same way Ellen
Gunderson Traylor (Mary Magdalene, Mark) and Thom Lemmons (Daughters of Faith
series) have done with other biblical figures. A solid addition to all
collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
In her fifth and final Lineage of Grace novella, renowned Christian writer
Rivers tackles the most celebrated woman in Christian history Mary, the
mother of Jesus - with mixed results. Using the biblical account of Jesus'
life as a framework, Rivers adds such imaginative scenes as Mary watching the
young Jesus healing his little sister, Anne, or Mary pondering Jesus' ability
to see that there is always enough bread and oil in the larder to keep the
family afloat. There are warm mother-son exchanges ("You're so thin!") and
personal details ("Jesus had Mary's chin... but no one ever said Jesus had
her eyes...."). The stakes are higher here for Rivers than in previous
novellas. While Christians may not mind Rivers taking inventive liberties with
characters such as the prostitute Rahab (Unashamed), the same grace might not
be extended to her fictionalization the revered Mary and Jesus. At the same
time, Rivers having taken the plunge in choosing Mary could have risked a
little bit more. Disappointingly absent from this novella are any
undercurrents of sexual tension between Mary and Joseph, which Rivers
conjectured so well with other characters in the series (particularly Ruth and
Boaz in Unshaken). The result is a more lackluster offering. Rivers's
writing, however, is excellent. If Christian readers can accept the
imaginative episodes without rejecting the lessons embedded in the story,
Rivers may succeed in giving them courage through Mary's example of strong
faith. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.