Harvest of Rubies. Given to me free for a review by Moody Publishing.
Harvest of Rubies was a book I was waiting for. I have heard wonderful interviews with Tessa, and I think her story was a wonderful idea- a young female scribe raised by a distant father and doing a man's job. Sarah does not know how to be a woman and at 23 is an unmarried scribe for the Persian empire. She lost her mother at a very young age and the person who watches out for her is Nehemiah, her cousin, who is cupbearer to the King. I admire the story, the writing, and the idea of a girl who comes to know that she is not worthy of Love based on her performance- but because she is God's child.
I love the Biblical metaphor of the Grape vine and the Husbandman who tends it that Tessa incorporates in her story. The gardener who tends the grapes seems to cut them so that they will die- pruning them until Sarah is sure they will never live and bear fruit again. Her life has been pruned and she too fears she will never live again. She lost her mother at seven and although the words of the Hebrew Psalms remain in her mind, this Jewish Maiden does not trust God's pruning. It is only when her own life begins to bloom again that she understands that the grapevines pruned the most by the gardener are the ones who bear the harvest- a harvest of rubies.
"How like the vine I had felt that day, stripped almost to the point of death, everything I held precious taken from me.
How I had longed for my old life back. And yet... God had intended to do me good by dismantling my world.
I had thought that my work was the measure of of my worth. I had made my accomplishments more important than friendships, more important than my heart, more important even than God. The more I clutched at my achievements, the sicker my soul had grown.
And God in His mercy, in His uncompromising Love, had torn the sickness out of my chest.
I remembered suddenly the Words of the LORD through the prophet Hosea.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt."
I think the premise is fascinating. I wish this book had been written without any of the "romance" though. I had to skip chunks of this story to get around the "love story." Novels- no matter how well written that contain romance do not foster thoughts of men as "brothers in all purity." And so, very reluctantly because of the goodness of the story idea, I give this novel two stars.