Friday, July 01, 2011

Book Review: "Martha" by Diana Wallis Taylor

Summary from BN.com: Perhaps one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented characters of the New Testament is Martha. Often painted in the colors of reproach, Martha seems to be the poster child for how not to be a follower of Jesus. From the mind of Diana Wallis Taylor comes this touching, well-researched portrayal of Martha of Bethany, sister of Mary and Lazarus. Through Taylor's lush descriptions and inspired combination of imagined and recorded dialogue, Martha's world--her trials, triumphs, and loves--vibrantly comes to life. Follow Martha as she is jilted by her betrothed, falls in love with a Roman soldier, grieves the death of her father, cares for her siblings, and serves her Lord with dignity and grace. Readers will never read the biblical story of Martha the same way again.

I've always sided with Martha when it comes to Sunday School lessons about her. We were always taught about how we should be more like Mary and not like Martha. We need to sit and listen instead of being busy doing other things. Well pardon me but if Martha hadn't gotten the food and house ready, I guarantee there would have been people complaining. Unless Jesus was going to perform another miracle right then and there, someone had to prepare everything. I'm also on Martha's side when Lazarus dies and she gets a bit snippy with Jesus. You know, I don't blame her. She's in grief and if Jesus loved Lazarus so much why didn't he get there faster or at least try to? I feel like Martha gets too much beat down a lot so anytime I can defend her I will.

Therefore I was looking forward to this book to give a different spin on Martha's story. Taylor did an excellent job in her previous book about the woman at the well because I've always been taught that she was a "loose woman". I was hoping that Taylor would portray Martha in a different light than how she's normally shown. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I was a bit bored by this story. I felt like pretty much everything that happened in the book was taken directly from the Bible and just dramatized.

I was quite sad that the first real relationship that Martha had didn't work out the way she had planned. I had a feeling from the start that it wasn't going to work out and unfortunately my premonitions came true. Martha's relationship with Jesus isn't the main focus of the story. In fact, he's actually not in the story much. The scenes that he is in, he sounds more like a strange, creepy guy to be honest. I know that sounds horrible but I guess it's because he pops in every now and then plus the characters themselves don't know much about him. So it seems weird, if you don't know anything about him, as to why they would be so emotional about him dying. Also it seemed really odd to me that the entire crucifixion/Last Supper scene happened with the women being completely clueless about where Lazarus had disappeared off to. One more thing to point out, Mary's relationship with one of the disciples seemed a bit odd to me. I guess it's because of how we've portrayed that disciple to be, I just never would have pictured the two of them together.

While these may seem like a lot of quibbles, overall though I was fine with this read. It's short but like I said, it doesn't deviate too far from the story in the Bible. Martha is more fleshed out though I felt like some of the other characters aren't. I did like seeing more interaction with Lazarus, who seems like he's too good of a guy regarding his whole fiance. I've stated before that I like Biblical fiction that is fleshed out without deviating too far from the actual story with the author doing extensive research to make the story authentic. This time, I felt like the story is lighter than your typical Biblical fiction and while it doesn't get too deep in research, it's an enjoyable read. It stays true to the Word so if you're looking for a Biblical romance this is a good one to turn to.

Martha by Diana Wallis Taylor is published by Revell (2011)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

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