Outstanding Christian Biblical Fiction - Left tears on my cheeks
August 19, 2017
Age: Over 65
I finished "The Well" this morning. I absolutely loved this book. It touched my heart and my emotions. I glanced down & had tear drops on my reading glasses lense. The Well is set in the early days of Jesus ministry. Mara's mother is shunned by the townspeople and Mara and her brother are treated poorly because of her mother's reputation. This is not your typical Christian historic romance. I had never heard of Stephanie Landsem as an author and someone recommended this book to me at a used bookstore. Since I retired I can't afford to buy all my books new. I bought The Well used but I will be buying her other books new. She is definitely an author I want to follow and read whatever she writes. She will bring you into the story and keep you so focused that you will forget where you are. Think sacrifice, love, putting others before yourself. All opinions are my own & no one asked me to leave this review. When a book is this good I just want to share it with others.
What a fascinating story! I am astounded and amazed. The Well is a wonderful novel with great characters and many surprises. What an outstanding book of Biblical fiction! I highly recommend it.
The history and geography of these Bible lands is vividly depicted in such graphic detail that it is easy to picture the story taking place, as if the reader is right there in Samaria and Galilee. The characters are full of life and are very real.
As Christians, we are probably all familiar with the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. In The Well, the story is told from the viewpoint of her daughter, Mara. Through her eyes this story comes alive.
I am particularly impressed with the character of Jesus and how he is portrayed, along with the reactions and behavior of the common people. If you enjoy Biblical fiction, please give this book your time. You will not be disappointed.
Hope can always be found in the darkest of places!
March 11, 2014
Ever since reading The Thief, Stephanie Landsem's second novel in The Living Water Series, I felt I missed out on her debut novel, The Well. I was so impressed and lost in her novel, I had to read this one just to see where it all began and to satisfy the longing in my book lover's heart. You know when you find an exceptional author, you have to pick up everything they write. I was not disappointed in my discovery. Thank you to Howard Books for generously sending me this copy to read and review without any monetary compensation for a favorable review.
One of the things that make Stephanie's novels so exceptional is she doesn't leave out any details when taking a known event from the Bible and expounding on the details that we don't know. Given that very little is known about the Samaritan women at the well that Jesus encounters, I love how Stephanie elaborated on what her life must have been like to bring her to that fateful life changing encounter we all know about from the Bible.
In the novel The Well, the reader is transported back in time to the Samaritan village of Sychar, where we find ourselves meeting the famed adulterous woman, Nava who is once again bringing much shame and disgrace not only to the village but more importantly to her daughter Mara and her disabled brother Asher. Knowing that her mother has completely lost sight of what this could bring to her family if anyone discovers what she is doing, Mara takes on the role of the mother, providing for the care and feeding of her mother and Asher. Since they are among the poorest in the village, they are only able to get by with the charity of the women in town who leave whatever they can spare so Mara and Asher won't go hungry. But Mara knows the charity will only last for so long as she manages to care for her family any way she can.
Fate intervenes when Jesus comes to the town of Sychar and meets Nava at the well. Just when it looks like things will get better for their family, those in the town that seek revenge instead of grace won't stop until they ensure that the laws of God are upheld in town. But once her mother is brought before the court, will there be anyone willing to stand up for righteousness against the odds? You just might be surprised at how well Stephanie writes the conclusion of her debut novel.
I received The Well by Stephanie Landsem compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Publishers for my honest opinion. The one thing I didn't realize is how she will preserve some of these characters for their reprising role in The Thief. I don't want to spoil it for you but trust me, if you love Biblical Fiction, you will definitely want to pick up The Well and The Thief. This is such an exceptional journey because you feel as though you're not just reading the story but actually living there. Just the violent act of stoning is something I am glad we don't do any longer and it seems it would be a painful and slow death at the hands of people who believe their are justified in their actions. This reminds me of mob-like vigilante's of the ancient days. I easily give this a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.
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. - 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¢â¬â 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." 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).
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.