Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
“We are all destroyed, everyone, in our lifetime, but few will rebuild. You must redeem your suffering, Esther.”
Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther by author Ginger Garrett is the fourth novel I’ve read based on the biblical book of Esther. After reading the story however many times in the Bible, enjoying three other novels, and watching four different film adaptations, yes, I’m still intrigued.
Even so, with a story that’s been retold so many times, in order for me to really get into a new-to-me retelling, it has to give me something the previous retellings haven’t given me already.
On that score, this novel delivered for me.
No, it’s not a romance novel, with King Xerxes painted as a shining romantic hero. And no, this book isn’t a rags-to-riches fairytale full of prettiness that ties everything up with a Happily Ever After bow at the end.
This novel’s strength is in the way it tackles difficult, sacred tension. How it paints a bold but deft picture of schemes, depression, injustice, murder, and suicide in a realm of royalty and excess. How it addresses so many ironies, not the least of which is the pairing of power and imprisonment.
How it depicts the conflicting emotions of a young Jewish woman stolen from the life she loved. Stolen by a king.
Granted, I wasn’t too impressed with Esther’s voice in the first few chapters. (Perhaps it’s a reflection of her initial immaturity.) And given that she tells her story in diary entries, the plot development is choppy at times, and Esther’s limited vantage point hampers the development of some other characters. (For instance, seeing Haman from an additional perspective might have made his personality and villainy more convincing.)
Nevertheless, this substantive account of a woman in an impossible situation, using what resources she can to save her people, and even to empower women…
It’s beautiful. Inspiring. Timely, timeless—for such a time…
The king has asked for a whore; I will show him a queen.
The latest cover of Chosen is pictured below, along with the rest of the Lost Loves of the Bible series.