Friday, May 14, 2010

‘Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther’ by Ginger Garrett – Book Review

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Have you ever wondered what went through the mind of a particular person in the Bible?  The latest book from Ginger Garrett, ‘Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther,’ provides Ginger’s interpretation of what Esther, queen to King Xerxes, could have been thinking as she lived her amazing life – one of the most important and influential people in the Bible.    

Here is the book trailer for this interesting tome:






Here is the biography for the author:

Focusing on ancient women’s history, Ginger Garrett creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women, including her most recent books in the Chronicles of the Scribes series.  In addition to her writing, she is a frequent radio and television guest.  Ginger resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

Early in the diary, Esther writes about the latest rumor that is making the rounds:

Rumors have gone into the village ahead of the king’s men.  Xerxes will take a bride from among his people!  Girls have begun feverishly preparing for the selection day, as if they can ripen themselves into choice fruit in mere days.  But in my quiet household, as Mordecai prepares for a meeting with the Jewish elders, dread coils around my heart.  My stomach tightens at every mention of the coming selection.  Surely the Jews will be exempt.  I silently plead to no one.  The elders believe my people will not be highly favored during the choosing, but neither should we interfere with the king’s will.  Our exile is dishonorable to the Persians, and that doesn’t commend a girl.  The palace will avoid taking a Jew (p. 58).

As we all know, Esther was indeed chosen to be in the running for the title of Queen of Persia.  In the Palace in Susa, Hagai, in charge of the harem, asked Esther why she did not get more dressed up, in an attempt to please the king.  She replied thusly:

“I should not have been chosen”, I answered.  “I am only an orphan who tends lambs and roses and sells my goods in the market.  I am not wanted as a bride in my own village; how then could I be chosen by the king?”  My heart was raw, hearing this truth aloud.  If the girls had reason to laugh before, now their torment would be endless. (pp. 71-72)

Hagai explains to the new recruits what they will be experiencing over the next year:  

“Tomorrow will mark your first day in this new world.  You will be given one year of beauty treatments: six months of cleansing and softening of the skin, and six months of cosmetics and adornments.  At the end of your time here, you will be led to King Xerxes for his good pleasure.  You will take only what you have learned here, plus one gift to offer for his good graces, and you will only have one night to please him.  One of you will, perhaps, be chosen as the new queen to rule over us all.  I bid you to think on these things, and as my servants escort you to your chambers, I bid you good night.” (p. 73)

Despite the fact that Esther is the only book in the Bible never to mention God by name, Esther, in her diary, mentions God regularly.  She, in respect to Him, never writes out His name in full.  Here’s an example:

I did not dream that destiny would find me, a girl with nothing of merit to her name (not even her name being truly hers), yet here I am, bidden by the throne of G-d to serve the throne of man.  Destiny has an allure only to those she has not called; those who have tasted her find her bitter. (p. 103)

Despite her surroundings, Esther maintained her faith:

The only indulgence of my past I will allow myself now is my prayer.  Twice daily I go onto the roof, near my bath, and pray toward my homeland, Jerusalem.  I pray for my people who have begun to return there, for their dream of rebuilding the temple of the Lord.  I pray for Mordecai, who has learned well to send secret messages to me through the guards who keep watch over the harem. (p. 106)

She also embraced what may be her future – a future she would not have chosen for herself:

I may rot here, or flourish, but remain here forever I will.  I am sorry, Mordecai, that you have spent your energy on a hopeless endeavor, not knowing what my fate was to be.  I am not here by your hand, and your hand cannot save me.  But I hear G-d’s voice calling me further on.  So under their care, I will bloom as a rose, and any who sway from His path will find a sharp thorn. (p. 109)

Finally, the time had come for her to meet the king.  Esther describes it this way:

He turned, picked his ring off the table of scrolls, and walked steadily to me.  I was against the edge of the bed with nowhere to move now.  Taking my hand in his, he placed the ring on my finger.  He was so close, I could smell the deep earth of his chest.  His body became a dark fortress as it encircled me and drew me close, and at last I could let my weak knees give way.  His breath was hot as he whispered in my ear, “Then I will not take the body, if I cannot have your heart.  Give both to me tonight, and be my queen.” (p. 141)

In a short span of time, Esther’s amazing spirit touched the heart of her King Xerxes:

He began kissing my neck softly and stroking my hair.  Then he moved in front of me, and, as he spoke, fell to one knee.  “Make me the man that the court poets say that I am.  Make me worthy of this crown I wear.  Make me, my Star, worthy of you.” (p. 154)

Esther recognized that she may forever hold a place in history, and she speculated about someone else whose place in history was already secure:

I am comforted by the story of another Jew who walked these palace halls, also brought here a slave.  His name was Daniel, and he was troubled by many restless dreams.  How I feel he is my brother now, watching from heaven.  He slept, but was disturbed by G-d’s hand.  I cannot sleep, for fear of being disturbed by the hand of a mortal.
In his dreams, Daniel saw the future, the future of the crown and the empire, and I wonder if he saw me.  He prayed in privacy, as I must, even as he knew his enemies were stalking him, wanting to expose his secret and thus end his life. (p. 184)

Esther ends her diary with this wonderful assigment for the readers who will come upon her life story in the future:

Go now.  Go to your future.  Let my story, and the words of G-d’s Holy Scriptures, give you comfort and strength for what must be done.  When your victory is assured, and you raise a cup of wine at your own feast, look to the stars and give me a smile.  For who can change the world quite like a woman?  (p. 271)

Who indeed?!!  I really loved this book!  Esther has always been a very intriguing person to me.  She was beautiful, intelligent, and altogether selfless.  The Book of Esther in the Bible is so interesting; to see the story from her perspective and through her eyes, and written so creatively and exceptionally, adds even more to her saga!  I would highly recommend it to anyone who is inspired by Esther’s life.  I think it would also be a great read to any woman who many not know the Lord, but like a spectacular story.  I can’t see how anyone who reads this diary would not want to read the real story in the Book of Esther – a perfect segue to get a person interested in reading the Bible.  I applaud Mrs. Garrett for coming up with interesting premise, and for executing it so flawlessly!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by David C. Cook and provided by the B&B Media Group for review purposes.

2 comments:

Lee Smith said...

I really liked this book as well. Thank you for such a wonderful review! :o)

Andrea Schultz said...

Thanks, Lee!

 
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