Simon & Schuster, Sep 8 2009, $15.00
The Emperor Augustus is concerned with the security of the empire so he orders a Roman soldier Apella to spy on the Jews. Mary, daughter of a rabbi-carpenter, meets Apella and is attractive to the non-Jewish hunk. Apella falls in love too with the seventeen year old who makes him feel guilt and remorse for hiding his true identity of Pontius Pilate from her. However, soon afterward at a fair, she meets Joseph the woodcarver and is attracted to him too.
Confused and bewildered by her being torn between two different men, especially when Joseph has one wife, is engaged to another and offers her the position of third spouse, she takes a pilgrimage up to the top of Mt. Barak to be alone with God. As the Creator tells her to remain patient, this occurs at a time when her clan needs her leadership as King Herod has kicked them out of Nazareth.
This is an intriguing look at the young Mary that cleverly leaves the reader to wonder if the Virgin birth occurred or not, but provides an insightful look at what shaped the attitudes of Jesus’ mother. The period comes alive especially the turbulence and intrigue that seems everywhere in Judea. Although readers will need to adjust to the formal vernacular style of the entertaining plot, fans will enjoy this fine biblical fiction as the no turn the cheek Old Testament God takes care of business in his mysterious way of shaping the playing field for Mary and Joseph.