I like historical fiction, and I love Biblical fiction. Who doesn't read a Bible story and wonder about the back story, or what else happened. We are told about an angel visiting Mary to tell her she will carry the Christ child, and we naturally wonder what would her mother say, how was she treated, did she hide? Or how many people did she tell about the Angel's visit before she gave up?
Ms. Landsem wove a wonderful story surrounding the woman at the well. We could feel the angst between the Jews and Samaritans, we felt the shame of Nava, the fictional name given to the famous Samaritan woman at the well, and felt the peace and joy which was the result of the encounter with Jesus. This is a wonderfully engaging setting because we know some juicy tidbits about the woman, and because the conversation between Jesus and this woman is the longest one-on-one conversation recorded.
It is impossible for me to read Biblical fiction without the lens of Biblical scholar. (Notice I didn't say expert as I am far from that but I can't get enough of the research) So one is forced to ask, "Are these characters believable," "Is the story and setting true to the era and purpose of the original writing," and "Did the conjecture of the fiction affect my faith or ideas?"
I thought the characters were believable, the research made the setting come alive, and the fictionalized parts of the story never caused me to question what I believe as truth. What I did learn however is that I read fiction with certain expectations and desires, and those expectations are very much of this world.
Without giving away the ending, let me just say that Jesus remained totally in character as Jesus even as I longed, much like the Jews of the day, for some righteous revenge and maybe a little fire and brimstone to rain down on the characters of my choice!
That for me was the point of this book, and frankly most Bible studies. I don't get to pick what happens. Jesus doesn't change his actions to meld with my limited ideas of how a story should end. My happy endings are so short sighted when compared to the Messiah's. What an enjoyable trip to Samaria!