Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Review: "The Centurion's Wife" by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Centurion's Wife

Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2009)

by

Davis Bunn and Janette Oke



ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Davis Bunn is an internationally acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in fifteen languages. His audiences span reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include My Soul To Keep, and Full Circle. A sought-after lecturer in the art of writing, Bunn was named Novelist in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University.

He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.


Her first novel, a prairie love story titled Love Comes Softly, was published by Bethany House in 1979. This book was followed by more than 75 others.

After Love Comes Softly was published, Oke found her readers asking for more. That book led to a series of eight others in her Love Comes Softly series. She has written multiple fiction series, including The Canadian West, Seasons of the Heart and Women of the West. Her most recent releases include a beautiful children's picture book, I Wonder...Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb and The Song of Acadia series, co-written with T. Davis Bunn.

Janette Oke's warm writing style has won the hearts of millions of readers. She has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medallion Award, The Christy Award of Excellence, the 1992 President's Award for her significant contribution to the category of Christian fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and in 1999 the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association International. Beloved worldwide, her books have been translated into fourteen languages.

She and her husband live nearby in Alberta, Canada.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.

Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions.

Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor.

This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, the story unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Centurion's Wife, go HERE


Biblical Fiction from one of Christian Fiction's Greats

When I heard that Janette Oke had a new book coming out, I was beyond thrilled. It's been a long time since we had a new book from her and I was looking highly forward to reading it. I was also excited to see that this book would be another collaboration between her and Davis Bunn. I highly enjoyed the other books the two had written together in the past. This would be the first Biblical fiction novel from Oke, so I was also curious to see what a book from her NOT set in Canada would be like.

The book starts out rather slow. It took a while for me to get into the story and I could not relate to the characters at first. It doesn't feel rushed but it seems like the reader doesn't have enough time to get to know the characters well enough. Also I didn't feel like Leah and Alban spent enough time together, especially since the title has the word wife in it. However once you get past all that, the story is absolutely brilliant. Even though the reader knows about Jesus' resurrection, seeing how the characters had to find clues about what really happened was like reading a mystery novel. Leah and Alban did not have religious upbringing so for them to find out the truth and the meaning behind it was a joy to read.

I really love biblical fiction and the historical research done for the story is excellent. You really do feel like you are in the time period and can see the setting perfectly. I liked seeing characters from the Bible that we all know given "screen time". I really liked the background stories given to the characters that aren't even given names in the Bible. I know there are some people who don't like Biblical fiction, but I personally enjoy it. I don't feel that it is sacrilegious to give religious characters personalities and imagine what life was like for them. I am going to be looking forward to the next book in the series.


The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke is published by Bethany House (2009)

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