I re-read this book with my 13 and 10 year old daughters this fall. This book had a huge influence on my early Christian years, and taught me so much,I re-read this book with my 13 and 10 year old daughters this fall. This book had a huge influence on my early Christian years, and taught me so much, so of course I wanted to share it with them, even the tough parts (the depravity of ancient Rome).
Voice in the Wind raised so many good things to discuss with the girls about marriage, being unequally yoked, belief and sin, not to mention history (it's set after the fall of Jerusalem, in ancient Rome and Ephesus) ad even bible history (it's full of Biblical stories; how the story of the Prodigal Son is used as part of this story moved me to tears). It's one of my all time favorite books and I've read it at least 5 times now; the girls loved it too (and are begging me to read the sequel, now).
At one point near the end as I was reading to the girls, a conversation between Marcus and Hadassah also moved me to tears (pages 426-428, which is based on the story of guards at the tomb in Matthew 28, and how they were bribed). Marcus is trying to prove to Hadassah how useless her faith in her unseen God is. And meanwhile her heart is breaking as she sees how lost and unhappy he is. His arguments were ones my father would approve of: all the reasons why he thinks its foolish to believe in Christianity.
To every Biblical defense Hadassah gave, Marcus had a smart and worldly answer. Until Hadassah turns to Marcus's dying father and asks him this:
"If you stare into the sun and look away, you see the sun, my lord. If you stare at death, you see death. Where does hope lie?"
His eyes flickered. He leaned back slowly. "I have no hope."
Marcus turned. He saw the dullness in his father's eyes, the pain etched in his face. Marcus was suddenly filled with deep shame. Maybe he had been wrong. Maybe it was better to have false hope than no hope at all.
This broke my heart, because my father is slowly dying of Parkinson's. He does not speak of it, but he must be looking at death: what hope does he have? I have hope that transcends death, and I must keep sharing it with him. I keep praying for the courage to share, and praying for God to work His miracle, and lift the veil so my father can finally see the truth.
Another favorite quote is from when Hadassah is traveling with Marcus and Julia by ship to Ephesus:
Her religion was full of paradoxes. Her faith defied all logic. Yet she clung to it with a quiet stubbornness far greater than the devotion of any temple priestess.
From the very first line "My mother did not tell me they were coming." this book is compelling.
The sixteen year old main character, Griet, finds hersFrom the very first line "My mother did not tell me they were coming." this book is compelling.
The sixteen year old main character, Griet, finds herself hired out by her parents as a maid to a wealthy family - the family of the famous 17th century Dutch painter, Vermeer. In the first couple pages the author sets up the perfect balance of characters, tension, foreshadowing, symbolism - you know you are in the hands of a master storyteller.
This book is deceptively simple, with many scenes revolving around Griet's plain and exhausting life as a maid, but laced with tension as she navigates the uneasy waters of the new household. The book is a buffet of sensory details without going overboard. Griet has a perceptive eye and appreciates Vermeer's paintings far more than his family and clients appreciate them, with the exception, interestingly enough, of his mother-in-law (a fascinating character).
Through Griet's eyes you will fall in love with his paintings, too, if you haven't already. As I read about each scene he painted, I couldn't resist to look his paintings up on the internet and match them up.
Interesting, but I never felt I got to know Vermeer very well in this story, not like the other characters. The author never gave him a personality, just hints of this and that. But in hindsight, I actually sort of appreciate it. It left my mind open to wonder who Vermeer really was. The book provides a suggestion as to why he painted the Girl with a Pearl Earring, but left the rest of him in privacy, perhaps out of respect for the real man.
I wanted to let other readers know there is one sex scene. There is also a lot of sadness in this book because Griet is basically so helpless to do anything about her circumstances, because of her poverty and being a female. Also as a maid, she has almost no privacy. One thing she is able to keep to herself, but I don't want to spoil the secret. It's not what you would expect.
I'm on an Egyptian kick now, after reading the Red Pyramid. This book takes you back into ancient times, to the beginning of the reign of Ramesses theI'm on an Egyptian kick now, after reading the Red Pyramid. This book takes you back into ancient times, to the beginning of the reign of Ramesses the Great. He's the one that built some of the biggest temples and had the longest reign... and he MIGHT have been the Pharoah that tried to keep the Hebrews in Egypt.
Moses makes a few cameo appearances in this book, but don't expect anything of Biblical proportions. The book was written from the Egyptian point of view of history, so the Hebrews (Habiru as the Egyptians called them) play a minor, but interesting role, and it's tied into the theme of "heresy" in this book, the idea of worshipping one god. The main character is Nefertari, niece of the beautiful Nefertiti whose husband tried to destroy worship of the traditional Egyptian gods in favor of one god. A generation later, the memory of Nefertiti and Ahkenaten are reviled and the young Nefertari, while still a Princess, is viewed with fear and distrust because of her heretic roots.
Nevertheless, she finds allies in the Egyptian court and is groomed to catch the eye of Ramesses. This is a book about court intrigue - it tries to be a love story but it never quite makes it. For example, it's the scenes where Nefertari's allies are molding her into a manipulator that are the most striking; whereas her scenes with Ramesses never turn into anything remarkable - perhaps because Ramesses' other wife is always in the picture, too.
Here's a snippet of the girlish Nefertari with her mentor, High Priestess Woserit, who is training her:
Woserit nodded. "Good. Now I'm the emissary and I've just complimented you. 'My, Queen Nefertari, I never dreamed what a beautiful shade of lapis your eyes were.' How do you respond?
I smiled so that all my teeth were showing, and Woseit said sharply, "Not so fast! A woman's smile has to be slow, so that a man knows he must work for it. See?" Woserit let her lips curve slightly. "Now compliment me."
I searched for a compliment. "High Priestess Woserit, you... you look lovely today. I'd forgettn what beautiful dark hair you had." As I spoke, Wserit's smile widened, but it was until I said my last words that her eyes fixed on mine and she gave me her fullest smile. I felt a sudden hotness in my cheeks.
"You see?" Woserit said. "You want it to feel like a surprise. You want to keep him guessing whether he'll make you smile entirely so that when you do, he will feel like he's been a given a gift."
That's kind of what the author does in this book. She keeps us guessing about Nefertari, if she will ever be accepted among her people instead of distrusted as a heretic. While Nefertari learns how to employ her womanly charms, she's also portrayed as very well educated, intelligent, and respected by Pharoah and some of his advisors. She speaks multiple languages and corresponds with foreign kings - for which there is some historical evidence.
The strongest character in the book is the villianness, Woserit's rival High Priestess Hennutawy - and Woserit's sister. For lovers of Roman history, She would give the Caesars' Livia a run for her money for court intrigue.
The book concludes with some historical notes, which I really appreciated, but don't let yourself be tempted to read them out of order or they could be a spoiler.
In summary, an absorbing book which transports you to the banks of the ancient Nile, makes you feel the grit of desert sand in your sandals, tempts you try pomegranate wine, and will have you googling for pictures of Nefertari and Ramesses and the magnificent landmarks they are responsible for. ...more