Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tell a Tale: The Handmaid and The Carpenter

Something for the season...

The Handmaid and the Carpenter

Summary (from Goodreads)In this wonderful novel about love and trust, hope and belief, Elizabeth Berg, the bestselling author of We Are All Welcome Here and The Year of Pleasures, transports us to Nazareth in biblical times to reimagine the events of the classic Christmas story.

We see Mary–young, strong, and inquisitive–as she first meets Joseph, a serious-minded young carpenter who is steadfastly devoted to the religious traditions of their people. The two become betrothed, but are soon faced with an unexpected pregnancy. Aided by a great and abiding love, they endure challenges to their relationship as well as threats to their lives as they come to terms with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the birth of their child, Jesus. For Mary, the pregnancy is a divine miracle and a privilege. For Joseph, it is an ongoing test not only of his courage but of his faith–in his wife as well as in his God. 

Exquisitely written and imbued with the truthful emotions and richness of detail that have earned Elizabeth Berg a devoted readership, The Handmaid and the Carpenter explores lives touched profoundly by miracles large and small. This powerful and moving novel is destined to become a classic.

Review: This is not the typical type of novel that I normally read, but I love Elizabeth Berg so I gave it a go.

I would not recommend this book for anyone who is steadfast in the literal translation of the bible.  However, if you are open to interpretation insomuch that the meaning of the story stays intact, then you might enjoy this little novel, and at only 176 pages it really is "little".

The intention of the book is to humanize the characters in the story as old as time itself.  We meet Mary and Joseph as young adults, who have a curiosity and foreboding sense of responsibility that all young adults possess.  They question the ways of the world around them and learn to accept their roles through their faith, in God and in each other.

Although this novel is set in history, I wouldn't really characterize it as a historical novel.  I think it was more of an exercise for Elizabeth Berg to capture an essence of the people involved in the birth of Jesus, outside of what we have already been taught.

As someone who is not a regular church-goer or philosophical student of the bible, I won't even pretend to understand or catch any of the subtle intricacies that Berg hits or misses.  Instead, I just take this as it is presented, another perspective on a story that gives us all hope no matter where in the world we live and a reminder of what Christmas is actually, friends, love, and faith~

Merry Christmas everyone~

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