Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sarah by Marek Halter

The first novel in a dazzling new trilogy about the women of the Old Testament by internationally bestselling author Marek Halter.

The story of Sarah--and of history itself--begins in the cradle of civilization: the Sumerian city-state of Ur, a land of desert heat, towering gardens, and immense wealth. The daughter of a powerful lord, Sarah is raised in great luxury, but balks at the arranged marriage her father has planned for her.

The groom is handsome and a nobleman, but on their wedding day, Sarah panics and impulsively flees to the vast, empty marshes outside the city walls. There she meets a young man, Abram, a member of a nomadic tribe of outsiders. Drawn to this exotic stranger, Sarah spends the night with him, but reluctantly returns to her father's house. But on her return, still desperate to avoid another wedding, she drinks a poisonous potion that will make her barren and thus unfit for marriage.

Many years later, Abram's people return to Ur, and he discovers that the lost, rebellious girl from the marsh has been transformed into the most splendid and revered woman in Sumeria--the high priestess of the goddess Ishtar. But the memory of their night together has always haunted Sarah, and she gives up her exalted life to join Abram's tribe and follow the one true God, an invisible deity who speaks only to Abram. It is then that her journey truly begins--a journey that holds the key to her remarkable destiny as the mother of nations.

From the great ziggurat of Ishtar and the fertile valleys of Canaan to the bedchamber of the mighty Pharaoh himself, Sarah's story reveals an ancient world full of beauty, intrigue, and miracles.

Last year, one of my favourite reads was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Shortly afterwards I read another novel with a biblical theme (In the Shadow of the Ark), which I thought was average, and I was then a bit reluctant to read any more biblical fiction because I didn't want to have any more average experiences.

I can't remember where I first saw this one mentioned (might have been on my Amazon recommends list but I am not really sure), I was definitely interested, and gradually over the last couple of months my interest has been steadily growing until finally I got the book from the library.

This book tells the story of Sarah, the eventual wife of Abraham. When we first meet Sarai she is a young girl, on the verge of womanhood. We get to see the ceremonies that the author thinks a young girl might have been subjected to as she becomes a woman. At the first sign of her blood, the time has come for her to be married off to the man that he has chosen for her. Sarai balks at this choice and runs away as before the ceremony can be completed, and she meets a young man, Abram. Because he is from the nomadic tribes, there is no way he can be an acceptable husband for her, but he has found his way into her heart. When they are separated, Sarai takes steps that are very nearly tragic.

The next phase of the book deals with Sarai's life as a priestess of the goddess Ishtar, with more details on ceremonies. She is the most beautiful of the priestesses and is about to be granted the highest of honours when Abram reappears in her life, and has to choose between life as an exulted priestess or as the wife of a nomadic man who lives in tents.

As Sarai makes her choice, her earlier actions come back to haunt her, and as Sarai becomes older she despairs of ever having her dream fulfilled, despite the promises of Abram's God, and especially as the trials of their marriage are an increasingly heavy burden.

This story is at once a familiar tale, and yet the author manages to make the tale that he has built around the Bible story both fresh and interesting. There is a lot of detail about the every day life of both the citizens of Ur, the nomadic people, life in Egypt, as well as some pretty steamy content at times.

I guess I know that the author has me interested in the story when I pull out the dust covered Bible in my house and read the relevant chapters! Overall an interesting retelling of a well known story.

Rating 4/5

1 comment:

  1. Well Marg we didnt agree on The Red tent but maybe I will give this one a try....adding to my TBR list...



Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP