Tessa Afshar. Harvest of Rubies. Chicago: River North, 2012. See here to buy the book.
Harvest of Rubies is about a Jewish scribe in Persia named
Sarah. Sarah is the cousin of Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king, who
is in the biblical Book of Nehemiah. Harvest the Rubies is
about Sarah’s struggle with her insecurity, her desire to be loved by
her cold (yet compassionate and just) husband Darius after she had made a
huge social faux pas at their wedding, and the palace mysteries that
she tries to solve.
The book was slow in places, but it presents endearing and human
characters. I think of Sarah’s father, who was distant from his
daughter, but who had a story of his own—-about his late wife, who loved
him, notwithstanding his flaws. Sarah’s prayers in delicate social
situations, and her quest to find inner peace, also resonated with me.
I admire Tessa Afshar for putting some historical research into her
book. In an epilogue, she credits the professor whose input she
received, comments on the historical plausibility of whether a woman
could have been a scribe in the ancient world, and discusses the role of
the historian Herodotus in her research.
Moody Press sent me a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.