The Well, Living Waters Series #1
Look deep into the well
The Well - Stephanie Landsem
A wonderful book, Stephanie Landsem breathes fresh life and understanding into the story of the woman at the well. Under her skilled pen, the characters, the setting, the history of ancient Samaria spring to life. A captivating account based on a familiar biblical story, Stephanie Landsem brings her reflection, and enchantment, as she gives authenticity to the setting and the complex history of Jews and Samaritans, and to the overall feel of the story from John 4:1-40 in the Bible. Yes, it is a story about the women at the well and how it might have been for her and her family, and excellently done, but what is even more intriguing about the story is Stephanie interpretation - and is that maybe, just maybe Shem (that is in the story) could have been Stephen. Ã¢ÂÂ St Stephen, the first martyr that is written about in the book of the Bible, Acts of the Apostles.
The only primary source for information about Stephen is the New Testament book Acts of the Apostles. Yet, there is a debate among scholars and some Samaritan and Bible scholars, on the belief that Stephen could have been a hellenized SamaritanÃ¢ÂÂ a well-educated Samaritan from a Greek-speaking, cosmopolitan city, such as Caesarea and one of the Samaritans that heard the words of Jesus when he was in the town of Sychar from the story of 'the women at the well' in the passages from the Bible.
Stephen is one of the most interesting characters in the New Testament. His story is short--but intense. His work belongs to a few days, and he makes but one speech--but his influence belongs to all after time! He was the first deacon and the first Christian martyr. Acts 6:1-8, 7:54 to 8:2. So as Mara, reflects in the story line of "The Well" this is not really about me, but about Shem, to whom the Lord has called and renamed Stephen, for he will be the first of many.Ã¢ÂÂ Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. So it is quite intriguing to think that this could be the early life of Stephen the Martyr, (later anointed St Stephen by the Catholic Church) is one and the same. Excellent analogy! Because I absolutely loved it, I recommend it to all readers, not just a few. I am highly anticipating the next book in the series "The Thief" (The Living Water Series).
February 12, 2014
one great Biblical fiction
I do love a good Biblical fiction--and this is one great Biblical fiction!
Mara is the daughter of the Biblical woman at the well, Nava, and the sister of a cripple, Asher. Many of the people at Sychar have decided they should be shunned. Nava because she sent her husband away and indulges in things she shouldn't; Asher because he is crippled, and it must be because he or his mother deserve punishment; and Mara by association.
Shem is the son of a wealthy Jewish merchant and a Samaritan mother and the possessor of a hot temper and arrogance that doesn't endear him to the Romans in Caesarea. A fight with two soldiers one night first to protect a woman about to be raped and then to protect his younger brother results in the violent death of one of the soldiers.
Now Shem's father must send him to Sychar, to his grandparents, to hide. Shem is mortified, at least until he catches a glimpse of Mara.
August 7, 2013
Good twist on well-known bible story
I enjoyed this Biblical fiction novel. It had a different twist to it than other versions I've read. In this book the main character was the daughter of the woman who went to the well in Samaria -- the one who said Jesus told her everything she'd ever done -- not the woman herself. There were a lot of tense moments in the story... but at times Mara got on my nerves. She was such a worrier, and very stubborn.
The way the author had several different stories going at the same time was cool, and the way they were merged together when Shem met Mara worked well. The scene with Nava at the synagogue was pretty intense. At that time I grew to admire Mara's faith and her pursuit of Jesus. The people in their town were cruel and judgmental, but I suppose that self-righteous attitude is pretty prevalent with a lot of religious people.
I liked Shem a lot. The tension between him and Mara was well done. Poor Mara had no clue that he would be fond of her as a woman. Even though in theory I should not have liked how things turned out in the end, I was satisfied with the resolution. The twist with Shem was pretty cool. I'm sure that's all fiction, but I still liked it.
I would recommend this novel to people who enjoy Biblical fiction and don't mind a lot of improvising with the facts. There are a lot of stories that don't have the details needed to make a complete novel. As long as it goes with the culture of the times, I enjoy seeing how different authors use the setting to bring out different points.
July 2, 2013
A Jesus Episode Fleshed Out
The story byline, "A desperate girl, a dangerous journey, an extraordinary sacrifice," says it well. Using a palette of multiple hues, the author paints sacrifice into the novel from Chapter One right through to the surprising and effective ending. The plot follows an appropriately crooked path and is driven by a relentless search for Taheb, the longed-for Samaritan Restorer.
Dysfunction shapes many of the characters, but a few sturdy individuals serve as tent pegs of stability. The major players, along with the dialogue, are believable for the most part, though the horse ride might be off-putting to people who know horses.
Landsem shines best in her meticulous research. She gives authenticity to the setting, to the complex history of Jews and Samaritans, and to the overall feel of the story. Having written my own biblical novel, I know how difficult a task that is, but the end product of her diligence lives and breathes and generates energy.
June 7, 2013