The story of Esther is one of the few books in the bible that is about a woman. In A Reluctant Queen she is fifteen years old when she agrees to her Uncle Mordecai's scheme to win the ear of the Persian king, Ahasuerus, in order to secure the Jewish lands in Palestine.
Esther is against the proposal, but enters the marriage contest that the King has decreed. All the beautiful woman are to come before him and he will judge who is most appropriate to become his new wife. Esther believes she will never be chosen, nor does she wish to be, and unhappily complies with all the primping and preening that occurs in order to properly attire herself to meet the King.
On the day of her interview, Esther vows she will be an unwilling participant and by her actions, make the King wish to choose another. Esther didn't reckon on enjoying Ahasuerus' attention and personality. Growing up in a Jewish household, even though she is part Persian herself, Esther has come to believe that all Persian's are animals who are not to be trusted and when she finds herself liking the King, her life makes a turn in a direction she had hoped it never would.
On that day that Esther takes her marriage vows, her life is irrevocably changed forever. Will she gain the trust of her husband and make amends for her people, in the name of God?? Or will her love for him keep her voice silent? As Esther comes to realize that their whole relationship is built on lies and that the King upholds the truth before any other moral tenet, she puts her faith in the hands of God and allows her destiny to flourish.
As far as love stories go, I enjoyed this book. Esther was likeable in her innocence and naivety, although her age bothered me, she didn't come across as a mere fifteen year old girl, but someone older and wiser. I enjoyed reading her innermost thoughts about the patriarchal culture she lives in and her realization that woman were just tokens in a game, appalled and dismayed her and her religious belief system became rocky. I thought Joan Wolf captured that essence of woman remarkably and found it enlightening to read.
King Ahasuerus was likeable also, his and Esther's romantic spark was a beautiful read. It had a touch of comedic appeal that was charming. I couldn't help but want these two together, without all the politics that lead them to each other involved, that is. The customs and practices of the different cultures was an interesting read, like how the King was able to divorce his first wife, I found that to be very clever.
Though there are some truths inside the pages, for the most part, the story is a compilation of historical data with some fantasy thrown in. The fact that Xerxes and Ahasuerus were mayhaps the same person, works against having Xerxes as his brother in the novel, you have to keep to heart, that this is a work of fiction. Author Joan Wolf has taken a story, in which historical documentation is fleeting at best and incorporated another angle on the way things could have gone. From a romantic aspect, the book is a well-written, descriptive historical re-imaging of one woman's destiny as God's chosen instrument.
You've read it as a biblical tale of courage. Experience it anew as a heart-stirring love story.
She was a simple girl faced with an impossible choice. He was a magnificent king with a lonely heart.
Their love was the divine surprise that changed the course of history.
The beloved story of Esther springs to fresh life in this inspired novel that vibrates with mystery, intrigue, and romance.
** Disclosure: I did not accept any compensation from the sponsors other than review copies, my views are my own, reviewed by me..as I see it~!! **