Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Huge Story of Redemption

Title: Woman Redeemed
Author: Christine Blake
ISBN: 978-1-4327-1583
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Paperback Price/Currency: $13.95 USD
Reviewer: Barbara Milbourn

It was during Christine Blake’s pursuit of her masters in Cross-cultural Teaching at the University of San Diego that a book idea began to emerge. Now, in her historical novel, Woman Redeemed, she transports us to the rich and colorful region created and dominated by the Romans in the first century, and introduces us to Mary Magdalene in first person.

We meet Mary in a small boat with her brother Lazarus and her sister Martha as her story cleverly unravels in a series of remembrances that occur as she looks upon the disappearing shore of her homeland.

As a child, Mary believes she’s vastly different from her sister, her mother, and the other women in the fishing village of Magdala. She’s curious, with “too much spirit to satisfy [herself] among the required duties of [her] sex.” She gravitates to the marketplace like her father, and idolizes Cleopatra for her power and allure.

Three significant meetings occur in her childhood that will change the course of her life: One on a stop in Nazareth during a return trip from market, when she is given a wooden box by an elderly carpenter. Another, during Passover in Jerusalem, where she meets the mother of Jesus telling stories to a gathering of children, and finally, during this same time she meets Jesus, who is around the age of her brother.

Christine Blake, through Mary Magdalene, tells the story of every woman’s self-doubt, temptations, pain, and startling experiences against a backdrop of political ambition, splendid architecture, industry, and traditions. She brings together the intersecting lives of the Jews and Romans, fishermen and prophets, women in community and women rebels. She plants us for a while in lands and seas whose names have changed but whose struggles continue. She revives the Bible stories of our youth and stays historically accurate to both Roman and Jewish records.

While this book may look small on the outside, Christine Blake has no problem delivering a huge story of redemption on a grand historical and societal stage. Celebrate womanhood in Woman Redeemed.

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