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Monday, September 9, 2013

The Well

Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places.  In real life, she's explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world.  Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats.  When she's not writing, she's feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure - whether it be in person or on the page.

You can connect with Stephanie via Facebook and Twitter.  You can also visit HERE to subscribe to Stephanie's blog for weekly glimpses into biblical history and sign-up for her newsletter for sneak peeks of her upcoming biblical fiction and special offers.

Mara is a desperate Samaritan girl struggling to keep her family alive in the face of starvation and the threat of exile from their strict village. When a mysterious Jewish teacher transforms her mother at Jacob's well, Mara hopes for a better life - until her mother's past sins lead to a brutal atoning.
Only Mara can save her dying mother, but she'll have the help of an unlikely friend:  Shem, a hot-tempered young man on the run from the Romans.  Shem risks capture to help Mara search for the man the Samaritans call the Taheb, the Restorer.  Together, they travel dangerous roads into the hostile territory of Galilee.  Their journey to the Taheb brings them burgeoning faith, unexpected love and unimaginable heartbreak.

My Thoughts:
As I've mentioned before, I am somewhat skeptical of biblical fiction.  However, the story of Jesus' encounter with the women at the well in Scripture is one of my absolute favorites.  So when I discovered Stephanie Landsem had written a novel of historical Christian fiction with a focus on this story, I knew I had to read it!  I was blessed that Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Pulishing, sent me a complimentary copy of The Well for the purpose of review.
The Well is the first installment in Landsem's The Living Water series.  The second book, The Thief, is set for release in February 2014.  After reading The Well, I can't wait for February to get here!  Landsem has written a well researched novel that carefully follows biblical and historical tradition.  I loved the angle of the story coming from "the woman at the well's" daughter.  Landsem draws her reader in from the very first paragraph with well developed characters and suspense and keeps you reading until you've turned the very last page. Hearing the story from both Mara's and Shem's points of view adds a depth to the story that would have been missing otherwise.  
The tension that Mara and Shem experience in their faith struggles and in their surprising relationship is palpable at times.  Landsem's portrayal of Jesus is done reverently and shines the light on His amazing grace in forgiving sins most would consider "unforgivable".  While apparent artistic liberty is taken in the portions of "story" missing from Scripture, Landsem is at the top of the biblical fiction genre in my humble opinion. The ending won't be expected and will leave you wanting to hear more from this author...February can not get here fast enough!
A Reading Group Guide is included making this book an excellent choice for your next book club selection or even a nice addition to a women's Bible study focusing on the Scriptural account of the woman at the well.

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