HARVEST OF RUBIES by Tessa Afshar
Reviewed by Tammy Doherty –
You know it’s a good book when you finish and you don’t want to start reading another book—you want this one to keep going. I read this book in four days. It was really hard to put it down to do the stuff that needs doing—like making dinner, taking care of the family, sleeping.
Tessa Afshar breathes life into history. In her first novel, PEARL IN THE SAND, she brings the story of Rahab and the fall of Jericho alive. In HARVEST OF RUBIES, the main characters are not taken directly from the Bible, though Sarah’s cousin is Nehemiah. Yes, that Nehemiah. Throughout the novel, Sarah and Nehemiah mention people and events that we now know as Bible stories. They both also refer frequently to the Psalms, though in this story they are a “collection” of the writings of King David just recently written for posterity. They talk about the Psalms, King David, and Queen Esther the way we talk about literature, the Alamo, or President Kennedy—as if these things still affect their daily lives.
HARVEST OF RUBIES is the story of Sarah, a young Jewish woman living in ancient Persia. Since her mother died, Sarah has tried desperately to connect with her father. His seeming indifference gives her a feeling of rejection, that she is a bother to him. When she learns to read and write, unusual for a girl, it is their one connection. Yet even this doesn’t seem to be enough. When Sarah becomes the Queen’s senior scribe, the belief that she can never be good enough, that she will always be found lacking, shadows her daily life. The Queen, however, loves Sarah and is always pleased with her work.
Then Sarah is married to Darius, a Persian noble. She is not an aristocrat and makes many mistakes that bring shame to her husband. Darius thinks Sarah connived to marry him for his riches and that she deliberately shamed him. He leaves her behind at his estate, alone but for a few servants. Sarah must learn both the value of friendship and her own worth. But even if she can regain her faith and truly believe in God’s love, that He loves her just for being her, there seems no hope that Darius will ever love Sarah.
Political intrigue and uncovering a plot to harm the Queen got Sarah into this predicament. When a new mystery presents itself, Sarah dives into the investigation. Her sleuthing provides not only suspense but also comic and heartfelt emotional tension. HARVEST OF RUBIES is a tale about God’s love, a romance, and full of suspense. All set in 5th century BC Persia. The only complaint I can make against this novel is that I have to wait for the sequel.