Am I the only one who associates certain things with places? Dunkin Donuts with Arizona, orange juice with Noel, Missouri, a mustard/gold sweater with Landers. Don’t ask. Some associations should be relegated to desert sands and wind… like that sweater.
I do it with Bible stories, too. Moses and the burning bush—Grandma’s Baptist church in Phoenix. Joseph’s many-colored coat? Uncle Gene’s farm in Marlow, Oklahoma. I can go through almost every story in any Bible Storybook and tell you where I first learned it.
Except Esther. All I can say is that when I took Old Testament Survey in High School, I already knew it. Don’t ask how. Can’t tell you.
It never was a favorite. Aside from the achingly beautiful and heroic words, “And if I perish, I perish,” it never did much for me. Spend a year on beauty treatments so I can be dropped into some dumb king’s harem? I don’t think so. Seriously, I’d have been the one looking for things to make me look as awful as possible so I could be sent home or killed. Either would have been preferable in my eyes.
Yeah, I was that kid.
Still, you couldn’t have those beautiful words, “If I perish, I perish” without Esther going along and being wise and all those good, godly traits that I clearly didn’t have. So, I give her props for that.
Note: links are affiliate links and likely provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, I requested and was provided a free review copy. Opinions were not influenced by this.
How Does Hadassah Compare to the Real Story of Esther?
When we think of Esther and her story, we think of her being forced to marry a king, and by doing so, she’s in a position to save her people.
So, I was surprised to discover that the book is more of a fictional memoir for “Hadassah” than it appeared in the synopsis. It begins at a very young age (under eight for sure) and ends with her burial. In the middle years, we’re given the story we know best but it’s not the primary story. I’ve seen this in another of the author’s books, so it might be something to note in the future.
Being fiction, I can’t complain so much about how she portrayed each person. Nothing the author did was in stark opposition to how the Bible portrays the individuals, but the only characters who interested me at all were Mordecai and Xerxes’ mother.
Esther was more of a Persian version of Elsie Dinsmore than a heroic queen who saved her people, and Xerxes felt like a Ken doll stand in.
That wasn’t it, though.
The sensuality combined with historical and customary info-dumping became really difficult to read when I didn’t really care about the characters. Add to that a plot that I know well and yet didn’t engage me, and I was left unsatisfied and disappointed.
This was the second book I’ve read (or attempted to read) by this author, and I think it’ll be my last for a while. Unfortunately, mostly clean writing and editing (I got an ARC so there’s a good chance the few typos and errors that jumped out at me have been corrected) don’t make up for a book that just didn’t deliver.
Still, there are strengths to Hadassah. People who love Biblical fiction and/or the story of Esther should probably read the “Look Inside” portion of the book on Amazon and see if they think they’d enjoy it. It might just be me. Furthermore, while the book was really sensual in places (for obvious reasons, of course), it was clean and in that regard, I believe historically and culturally accurate.
While I’m not sorry I requested and received a free review copy of the book, I am sorry I can’t sing its praises. I hope it’s just me.
Please do check out other reviewers along the blog tour. They may balance my disappointment and show that I am alone in my thoughts. I hope so.
Hadassah is on tour with Celebrate Lit
Author: Diana Wallis Taylor
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release date: July 2, 2019
One of the great heroines of the Old Testament, Hadassah was a beautiful, graceful young woman who put her faith in God and her guardian, her cousin Mordecai.
She dreams of marrying Shamir, a tall, handsome, studious young man who is the rabbi’s son. Her heart beats faster when she hears the sound of his deep voice as he reads the Torah. And she hopes that he will visit Mordecai soon to present a betrothal request.
Then, an upheaval in King Xerxes’s palace changes everything. Queen Vashti has been banished and an edict goes out for all qualified young virgins throughout the empire to be taken to the palace as he searches for a new queen.
Fear strikes in the hearts of many, including Mordecai, as he realizes Hadassah will be taken. To hide her identity as a Jew, he tells her to go by the name of Esther. Since he works as a record-keeper at the king’s gates, he can keep tabs on how she is doing.
Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia imagines what life was like for the woman who saved her people—and perhaps found love in the process.
About the Author
Diana Wallis Taylor was first published at the age of twelve when she sold a poem to a church newsletter. After receiving her B.A. in Elementary Education at San Diego State University, she was an elementary school teacher for twenty-two years. Diana has also sold real estate, opened two coffeehouse/used book stores, and was a conference director for a private Christian college.
She has an extensive portfolio of published works, including a collection of poetry; an Easter cantata, written with a musical collaborator; contributions to various magazines and compilations; and several books, including Lydia, Woman of Philippi; Mary, Chosen of God; Ruth, Mother of Kings; and Halloween: Harmless Fun or Risky Business?
Learn more at www.dianawallistaylor.com.
Read an Excerpt
Besides the usual vendors, there were strange, sweaty men with beady eyes who were looking to get rich from the additional population.
In the wee hours of the morning, while Mordecai sat with his head in his hands, silently praying, Jerusha stopped breathing, slipping away so quietly that Hadassah thought she was still sleeping.
One day, to the people’s relief, the news was spread that the unwelcome banquet guests had been ordered back to their provinces—to prepare for war.
Instead of bowing, Hadassah smiled unabashedly and gazed directly at the king, who at that moment had turned his head.
“Do not give your name as Hadassah, but tell them it is Esther, which is a Persian name. I would have you hide your Jewish heritage for now.”
She felt their eyes silently appraising her; some with open interest, some with sympathy, and others with calculating shrewdness.
Esther asked each maid gentle, innocuous questions about her homeland, favorite foods, culture, and the like, listening attentively to their answers and making sure to speak to them by name both to let them know they were important to her and also to help her remember who was who.
“If you maidens help me to be my very best when I am called to the king’s chambers, if he honors me by selecting me as his queen, I will not forget you, who helped to put the crown on my head.”
Esther had seen some of the women pass her quarters so laden with jewelry they could hardly walk. She wanted to laugh out loud, but suppressed even a smile.
Recognition came. “Ah, the maiden in the crowd. I thought about you many times.” He moved closer. “I remember your hair, like a cloud around your face.”
Back Porch Reads, July 4
Retrospective Spines, July 4
Hallie Reads, July 4
My Devotional Thoughts, July 5
Through the Lens of Scripture, July 5
For The Love of Books, July 5
Fiction Aficionado, July 6
The Becca Files, July 6
For Him and My Family, July 6
EmpowerMoms, July 7
Madeline Hope, July 7
Locks, Hooks and Books, July 7
A Baker’s Perspective, July 8
Godly Book Reviews, July 8
Moments, July 8
Emily Yager, July 9
Aryn the Libraryan, July 10
Purposeful Learning, July 10
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 10
Through the Fire Blogs, July 10
Lights in a Dark World, July 11
Mary Hake, July 11
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 11
Splashes of Joy, July 12
Simple Harvest Reads, July 12 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 12
Bigreadersite, July 13
Pause for Tales, July 13
Texas Book-aholic, July 13
Creating Romance, July 14
A Good Book and Cup of Tea, July 14
janicesbookreviews, July 14
Older & Smarter?, July 15
She Lives To Read, July 15
A Reader’s Brain, July 15
For the Love of Literature, July 16
Just the Write Escape, July 16
Inklings and notions, July 16
Henry Happens, July 17
Hebrews 12 Endurance, July 17
Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 17
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 17
To celebrate her tour, Diana is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks card and a surprise book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.