The Apostle's Sister by Angela Elwell Hunt "After moving to Jerusalem, Aya expects to be bored in her role as wife to a Torah student but finds herself fascinated by her husband's studies. And when her brother Sha'ul makes a life-altering decision, she is faced with a troubling question: How can she remain true to all she's been taught since infancy and still love her blasphemous brother?"--
Series: Jerusalem Road #4
Published by Bethany House on June 7, 2022
Genres: Fiction / Christian / Biblical, Fiction / Christian / Historical
Baker Book House|Amazon|ChristianBook
"After moving to Jerusalem, Aya expects to be bored in her role as wife to a Torah student but finds herself fascinated by her husband's studies. And when her brother Sha'ul makes a life-altering decision, she is faced with a troubling question: How can she remain true to all she's been taught since infancy and still love her blasphemous brother?"--
It was evident that a whole lot of research went into the creation and development of this novel. From the streets, to the homes, to the meals prepared, the author paid great attention to detail in order to build a vivid world capable of fully immersing the readers into the setting.
Yet while the novel was clearly well researched, I have to admit there were a few things that fell short in the writing for me. The novel itself felt unfocused. For example, large attention was given to both Aya and Sha’ul’s (Paul) weddings and their ceremonies in the beginning and yet they didn’t appear to have much weight in the overall plot. Throughout the novel, there were several scenarios that were given much attention and yet their overall importance didn’t measure up. After Sha’ul’s conversion, it was as if he’d disappeared completely for a time, when it was those moments that were vital to the story. There wasn’t enough between Aya and Sha’ul afterward, and that’s what I thought this novel was supposed to be about. There was so much that I think was missed through this.
Another struggle I had was with the overall writing style. Despite the fact that the POV was written in first person for both Aya and Sha’ul (Paul), I still felt distant from the narrative. At least a large part of that was that there was a lot of telling over showing, but there’s more to it that I can’t quite figure out how to put into words.
One thing with Biblical fiction that we have to make sure we all understand, is that while the Bible is the basis for the stories, creative license has to be taken in order to develop fuller lives for the characters we read about. I recognize that. I also recognize that each of us can have our own different creative views on what we think Biblical characters would have been like. Personally, I struggled with Sha’ul especially in the beginning. His character just didn’t quite line up with how I picture him. It’s not to say I’m right, it’s just different and so I’m sure that also got in my way of getting fully immersed into the story.
Overall it wasn’t a bad story, I just struggled with some elements of it. I highly recommend taking a look at some other people’s reviews, as not every book is for every reader, and I know others thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve read other books by this author and loved them so it doesn’t keep me from reading more from her in the future either. Biblical fiction can be tough, especially when it’s characters that are so well known.
*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishing. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.