Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mona Lisa of the Galilee

Mona Lisa of the Galilee by Beth Jacobi “You’re going to have to prove you can wash well enough to look after a husband!” Joanna teased. Pleasure drained from Kezia’s face. The memory of Jared’s icy stare sent shivers down her spine. She looked sideways at her aunt. Would she understand? There wasn’t much time before other women would be sure to join them. Kezia took a deep breath and grasped the moment: “I don’t want to marry!” she announced. 

Murder, betrayal, lust, ambition and ancient faith – the joys of childbirth and the pall of death – are sprinkled with racial tension, political intrigue, family honour, humour and love in Mona Lisa of the Galilee, a historical family saga set in 1st century Palestine. This unique and page-turning novel follows twelve-year-old betrothed Kezia from the close of her childhood as she matures into a woman of passion. She has been engaged to be married since the age of six, but a near-death brush with fever changes her outlook on her match. Culture and faith collide in the quest for love... 

A captivating novel, Mona Lisa of the Galilee will be enjoyed by fans of historical fiction. Author Beth has been inspired by a number of authors, including Anita Diamant, Victoria Hislop and Joanna Trollope, as well as a visit to Sepphoris in Galilee. This novel takes place in the village of Sepphoris in Galilee, Israel, slightly north and west of Nazareth during the 1st century Palestine, in the time of Jesus.

The Mosaic of Sepphora, the Mona Lisa of the Galilee
My Review:

Mona Lisa of the Galilee is the tale of Kezia, a twelve-year old girl who is betrothed Jared, a complex man with a temper and a penchant for violence. A brush with death forces her to re-evaluate her life and she is tempted to flee her impending marriage with such a cruel man. The setting is rich with well-researched authentic sights and smells of the era. It’s steadily paced plot is sure to hold the reader’s interest to the end. 

True historical Biblical figures - Jesus, Simon/Peter, and other apostles - appear as secondary or minor characters. Despite these personages and religious references, the novel does not focus on religion. Rather, faith is a theme in the background and does not overpower the good storyline. With its engaging prose, larger than life heroine, unique setting, and fascinating historical period, I definitely enjoyed this novel from start to finish.

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