Jaime's Reviews > Amora

Amora by Grant J. Hallstrom
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it was amazing
bookshelves: christian-fiction

I must give a spoiler alert to any reader of this review. I read between 30-40 books in an average year. Among those dozens of books, I am blessed to read 5-6 books that stand-out. They stand out because they flow, engage and provoke my imagination and thoughts. Such is the case with the novel, 'Amora' by Grant J. Hallstrom. The author has created a living and breathing work whose tale, characters and messages will stay with one after reading and experiencing it. I was given the opportunity to read this book after being contacted by the author. I was first taken in by the author's heartfelt dedication to his slain brother, Calvin. My passion for historical and Christian fiction propelled me to start reading the novel with the expectation that this would be a story of the struggle between social compliance and following the heart of the Lord.

The central characters are Amora and Leo, a married Roman couple in 2nd century Rome. The two are vested in the Roman patrician lifestyle of privilege, excess, and pagan worship and endless socializing. Although slightly uncomfortable some of the established social morays and beliefs, they plan for and have children. The first, Natalie is beautiful in appearance and the second, Esteban is born with a lame leg. Tragedy befalls the young family and the couple is stricken with grief but soon their paths divide. Leo mercilessly lashes out at a trusted slave, undervalues his villa accountant, Antonio and detaches himself from his wife. With the encouragement of Senator Quintus, Leo immerses himself in political activities and debauchery to alleviate his emotions. Amora focuses on rearing Esteban and caring for unwanted children through a charity. The two divergent paths reflect the upcoming spiritual and emotional conflict between Amora and Leo and of Christian love & forgiveness and Roman hatred & brutality. I found the battle of the heart's convictions to either embrace anger, immorality & revenge or acceptance, mercy & peace of the heart to be the main message of the novel. As the battle lines are drawn, the main characters become representative of a bigger battle between God and the evil Roman Empire. Amora chooses Christianity and Leo chooses corruption. Amora's sojourn to Christ is aided by Maria, a loyal servant and Justin Martyr, a 2nd century Christian apologist. Leo comes under the Roman influence of Junius Rusticus, a Stoic philosopher, Crescens, a Cynic philosopher and enemy of Christians, and persecutor of Christians and Marcus Aurelius, the Emperor. He comes to hate Christianity and his Christian wife. A denouncement by an angry Leo results in Amora, Maria and others being arrested and sentenced to death for their beliefs. I found the absence of God's love will create an emnity with those who embrace the Lord. Leo's anger brings more tragedy on himself and Antonio who loves Maria. The grim and dark reality of hatred and revenge weigh heavily on Leo who focuses his gnawing hatred on his son, Esteban. The descent into evil and darkness forms the climax of the novel. The author creatively spins a tale of fate and justice in which Leo, Esteban, and Antonio all playing key roles. Ironically, God always brings justice on all in the end and this is the case here. The author brings this about with depth of feeling, moving moments, and great narrative story-telling. Truths and betrayals are revealed to Leo, Esteban and Antonio and forgiveness overcomes bitterness. Each experiences the leading, forgiveness, and justice of the Lord.

I must say that the author has created a story that is fluid and alive with emotion and passion. I found myself caught up in the drama and spectacle of the persecution and executions of early Christians. My heart broke and soared with the knowledge that their short period of pain would lead them to faith. The living characters inhabit a time that although long past seems to be much like what we are experiencing now. It is this that makes this novel stand out for me. In closing, Grant Hallstrom has composed a memorable and dramatic tale of redemption.
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Reading Progress

August 19, 2020 – Started Reading
August 19, 2020 – Shelved
August 19, 2020 – Shelved as: christian-fiction
August 23, 2020 –
page 5
August 23, 2020 –
page 15
August 23, 2020 –
page 24
"The author writes with reverance for the character of Amora. From the details of her marriage reception to her marital life with Leo, the author reconstructs a Roman life of a woman with two loves, her faith and her family."
August 29, 2020 –
page 30
August 31, 2020 –
page 54
September 2, 2020 –
page 100
September 2, 2020 –
page 106
September 2, 2020 –
page 116
September 2, 2020 –
page 142
September 3, 2020 –
page 162
September 3, 2020 –
page 200
September 3, 2020 –
page 250
September 3, 2020 –
page 250
September 4, 2020 –
page 306
September 4, 2020 – Finished Reading

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