What if the man you loved betrayed your brother?
Two thousand years ago, while a young Jewish preacher from Nazareth was gathering followers among the people of Galilee, his sister swept floors and dreamed of learning to read.
In Leslie Cannold’s story, it is the women of Nazareth who take centre stage.
The rebellious, gifted Rachael, consigned by her sex to a life of drudgery.
Bindy, the crone who teaches her the skills of the healer.
Shona her sister, the victim of a harsh social code, and their mother Miriame, a woman seemingly unable to love.
When Rachael falls in love with her brother’s dearest friend, the rebel Judah of Iscariot, it seems that at least one of the women of Nazareth may find happiness. Then a message comes from her brother in Jerusalem. And the events begin to unfold that will change not just Rachael’s life, but the world—forever.
The Book of Rachael by Leslie Cannold is well written. Let me just start with that. I have no problem with her writing style – in fact, I would gladly read any other book she’s written. However, I could scarcely get through this one.
Perhaps it’s my Christian upbringing that made me dislike the story. While I like the idea of the age old story being told through the eyes of a sister, I don’t understand the need to change the names of characters. Jesus is Joshua. Judah is Judas, Miriame is Mary, the mother, and Maryam is Mary Magdalene. I also didn’t recognize any of the disciples names, but it’s been awhile since I read the Bible so that might be why. Joshua is spied by his sister having sex with Maryam before marriage (WWJD??) and when she is taken away from Nazareth by her parents, he goes on a big mission to find her. Never mind all the pesky preaching stuff – although that does come later. I disliked Miriame so very much. She’s not anything like I imagine the mother of the Messiah would be like. (Plus, she wasn’t present at the Crucifixion in this story, either) And, Yosef, the father, seemed very weak to me.
Like I mentioned earlier, I do think the story is well written. Plus, I really like Rachael. I wish the entire story had just been about her and Bindy. She wasn’t interested in just being a woman for the sake of being a help meet to her husband and bearing this children. She wanted so much more out of her life. She wanted to study and learn and see places outside of her childhood home. And, despite the hardships, she was strong. What a fantastic role model.
*Thanks to Text Publishing Company and Edelweiss for sending me a digital copy of this book for review in exchange for my honest opinion*