This is an authentic tale by a lady who obviously loves Bible history and story telling. It’s not the sort of book that keeps you riveted with twists and turns, as it’s based on the familiar Bible stories featuring Lazarus and his two sisters, so therefore we know what to expect. For example, when we see the girls begging Jesus to come and heal their sick brother, we already know he’s going to tarry until Lazarus is actually dead, so we don’t have to stay glued to the pages. Writing this in the first paragraph isn’t even a plot spoiler.

Having said that, there are a few nice little, surprising embellishments. Mary’s wager with her friend, Leah, about finding a husband, and the history between Martha and her betrothed, Simon, was entirely made-up, as was their relationship to Nicodemus, but it’s fun to imagine that it might have been this way.

The characters tend to be larger than life, and maybe a little overstated, which may also add a bit of fun to the story. For example, the trio’s Uncle Joktan and his son, Abel, are typical pompous Pharisees. Judas might not have come across quite so sleazy in reality, but we’re willing to go with it. The sisters themselves are presented like chalk and cheese. Mary is very beautiful, but a bit vain and coquettish, while Martha is plain and very domestic. For all we know, that first glimpse of them we have in the Bible may have been a particularly hectic, off-day for Martha, but this story has the girls at cross-purposes like that often. Still, that’s exactly how it might have been for all we know.

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