After reading Tessa Afshar’s debut novel, Pearl in the Sand, back in the fall of 2010, I’ve been eagerly awaiting her next offering. Pearl in the Sand was a wonderful read and I really looked forward to seeing what she came up with next. Her second novel, Harvest of Rubies, came out in April, and I finally had the opportunity to read it a week or two ago.
Here’s the description from the publisher:
The prophet Nehemiah’s cousin can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve great mysteries. There is only one problem: she is a woman.
In her early childhood years, Sarah experienced the death of her mother and her father’s subsequent emotional distance and she came to two conclusions: that God does not care about her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth – the measure of her self.
Sarah, the talented scribe and cousin to Nehemiah, is catapulted into the center of the Persian court, working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen. Ironically, it isn’t failure but success that causes Sarah to lose her only source of external validation.
Sarah soon learns that she has something of worth to offer beyond her ability with languages and sums – her very being proves to be a blessing to others.
Ms. Afshar has once again woven a vividly written, emotionally engaging story. Sarah’s struggle to find acceptance through her accomplishments and her eventual realization that her worth doesn’t depend on them is poignant. The main characters are all well developed and believable, with foibles and imperfections. Ms. Afshar has a talent for creating characters that you feel like you really know…down to even the loyal dog! The depiction of palace life in ancient Persia and the dynamics of various relationships: nobility, royalty, commoners, harems, and so forth, are well researched and realistic. The thread of intrigue is woven into the story seamlessly and doesn’t at all feel like an added on plot device. It adds to the overall theme quite nicely. And even though the book delivers a serious message and delves into serious issues, there’s plenty of humor too! There are scenes that are laugh out loud funny.
Harvest of Rubies delivers romance, mystery, adventure, grace, and humor. It’s endearing, entertaining, and funny while still delivering a worthy message. Highly recommended!
Thanks so much to Moody Publishing for providing a review copy of this title. All opinions expressed are my own.