Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Two From Galilee by Marjorie Holmes

Time for another series of book reviews! (I seem to only do this in fits and starts. I really should promise myself to post more often.)

We'll start off this session with a timely review. Or, at least it will be timely in a week or two.

Two From Galilee isn't quite like your typical Christmas story, though. No Scrooge. No George Bailey running through town yelling "Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!" Not even one reindeer sighting. Actually, this story doesn't feel very "Christmasy" at all, since it's set in the dry, dusty world of Palestine 2,000 years ago.

The main characters are a young Jewish couple named Mary and Joseph (you can probably see where I'm going with this.) They have been in love with each other since they were children - much to the chagrin of Mary's parents, who think she can do better for herself.

When Mary finally hits a marriageable age, her parents decide it's probably best to marry her off to one of the richest men in town. But Mary fights for Joseph. He may only be a poor carpenter, but he's the man she loves.

It takes half the book for Mary to win the argument. But no sooner than she and Joseph are officially betrothed in a legally-binding ceremony, she gets an angelic visitation and miraculously finds herself in the family way.

Mary may find herself being called "most blessed of all women," but that doesn't mean she doesn't fear the loss of all her hopes and dreams. However, she and Joseph are about to get a lesson both in love of God, and love between a man and woman.

Though this is listed as Christian fiction, it goes easy on the proselytizing, and is one of the best of the genre I've ever read. It's a rich and sensual book about a culture completely foreign to most of us, but at its heart it's the story of a love that has affected the world as we know it for all time.

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