The Well, Volume 1
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
An Amazing Debut Novel
Mara is a 15 year old Samaritan girl who lives with her younger, crippled brother and her mother in a small clay house in Sychar. MaraÃ¢ÂÂs mother, Nava, is mentally unstable, and Mara is trying to take care of her mother and brother. She is scorned in the village because of her motherÃ¢ÂÂs sins, so life is not easy for Mara.
ThereÃ¢ÂÂs a pagan man named Alexandros who stops by their house once in a while to stay the night with Nava. No one can know about this because the people of Sychar will stone Nava if they ever find out.
Mara is trying to persuade Nava to turn Alexandros down next time, because she is living in constant fear that her motherÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂsecretÃ¢ÂÂ will be exposed.
Shem is a young man from Caesarea where he received a good education, and where he could live a good lifeÃ¢ÂÂ¦if he hadnÃ¢ÂÂt gotten himself into trouble. His father is sending him away to his grandparents in Sychar. Once there, he rescues Mara from three boys who are bullying her on her way to the wellÃ¢ÂÂand in doing so he makes his first enemies in Sychar.
One day Nava is going to the well where she meets Jesus. He knows all about her husbands and doesnÃ¢ÂÂt condemn her. She receives new life at the well and is changed after that. But the village people refuse to believe sheÃ¢ÂÂs changedÃ¢ÂÂthey want to punish her for her sin.
When something bad happens to her mother, Mara is called in a dream by Jesus. Meanwhile Jesus has left Sychar and has gone elsewhere. Mara and Shem go after himÃ¢ÂÂtogether they travel from Sychar to Nazareth, and further. On the way they get into several dangerous situations.
Will they find Jesus? Will her mother get healed? And what is the reason Jesus called Mara to come to him?
I enjoyed this book immensely! It is hard to believe this is a debut novel. The writing is excellent; the author has a pleasant voice, the plot is very well done, the characters are so real, easy to love, and easy to identify with. From the first till the last page, this book is a pure delight. I highly recommend this book!
June 5, 2013