The Book of Esther is probably one of my favourite stories in the Bible, so you can be sure that this is not the first time I’ve read a retelling of this story. Esther: Royal Beauty by Angela Hunt is the first book in A Dangerous Beauty Series and I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for when the next book in the series comes out (I believe the next one will be about Bathsheba).
Hunt is able to tell the story of Esther beautifully without deviating from the Biblical account (you have no idea how much I appreciate when an author does that), but the details she does add in are believable and help round out the story and the characters.
The book is told through alternating POVs of Esther and Harbonah (I seem to be reading a lot of books with alternating POVs these days). It is interesting that Hunt chose to tell the story from one of head eunuchs perspective, Harbonah. In doing this we are able to get a glimpse of the king’s moods and character as well as gain a “downstairs” viewpoint. It was a great way to establish the background of the story through Harbonah.
I think the aspect I liked the most about this novel was that as I reader I was able to experience Esther’s growth from childhood to womanhood, from naivety to wisdom, from being superficial to being selfless. Also, in this novel you are left with the sense that while Esther managed to become queen of a vast empire, her life seemed so lonely. Yet, in the end she was able to find her identity and in doing so saved the Jewish people.
I recommend reading it.
Somehow Goodreads.com referred the book I Never Promised Your a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg to me and I was interested in reading it. This novel is a semi-autobiographical and tells Greenberg’s epic struggle with schizophrenia when she was a teenager.
Greenberg presents a realistic portrayal of the mind of a person with mental illness. She uses the character of Deborah to be her representative of her life for the novel. Entering Deborah’s mind it feels you are wading into another world, one that is burdensome, yet essential to the main character. You have to be impressed by the capability and creativity of Deborah to make an entire world, “the kingdom of Yr”, rich with characters and with a developed language, but world that Deborah has created is terrifying (I have said there is a fine line between genius and insanity). What I do like about Deborah is her zeal to attain health or a more healthy mentality which is evident in her development of bonding with others in the real world.
This book was an excellent read. Here are a few quotes I pulled from the book that struck me.
“I never promised you a rose garden. I never promised you perfect justice . . . and I never promised you peace of happiness. My help is so that you can be free to fight for all of those things. The only reality I offer is challenge, and being well is being free to accept it or not at whatever level you are capable. I never promise lies, and the rose-garden world of perfection is a lie . . . and a bore, too!” pg. 103
“I once had a patient who used to practice the most horrible tortures on himself, and when I asked him why he did such things, he said, ‘Why, before the world does them.’ I asked him then, ‘Why not wait and see what the world will do?’ and he said, ‘Don’t you see? It always come at last, but this way at least I am master of my own destruction.” pg. 37
Thanks for reading!