Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Back Cover:
Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body, heart, and soul?

I rescued this book from the shelves of Value Village here and wondered what the story would be, since Tessa Afshar is a new author to me. I wasn't disappointed and I'm happy to add her pages to my bookshelves now.

Elianna means "My God has favored me", and thus was she named because her birth was seen as a blessing from God to her parents. Two siblings would later be added to her Jewish family--the second being a boy whom her parents loved especially. But tragedy soon strikes Elianna's family, and her father wrongfully lays the blame at her feet. Ethan, her betrothed, gives her space and time, loving her all the while. I love the relationship she and Ethan share--hers of doubting and sorrowing in her family, but Ethan choosing to share her pain and giving her the comfort and advice that he can.

With the passing of time, she watches her younger sister fall in love and lives through the horror of a bandit attack along with her father. Elianna finds purpose and meaning in taking over her father's wool and weaving business and she keeps the family alive when her father passes away. And despite this Ethan still is faithful to her and brings security to her life in a way she doesn't realize. Because of the guilt and oppression she lives with regarding their family tragedy, she pushes Ethan away, thinking that he deserves a better wife and life. She throws herself harder into weaving and selling, finding new dyes and material and using her connections to learn what the people desire to buy.

Once again tragedy strikes, this time her business in the way of a house fire. It seems as though her life as been filled with sorrow, and yet it will take personal physical uncleanliness to bring Elianna to Jesus' feet--literally. Keziah, her servant, and Joanna, her sister, remain constant and faithful friends to her as she spends her living on physicians, attempting to find a cure for her sickness, and yet she is never completely healed. Viriato and Claudia provide humor and relief from the Gentile side of Elianna's Jewish life, and I'm so glad Afshar created characters who found companionship in those outside their own culture and religion. Keziah and Joanna encourage Elianna's faith in God (sometimes with tough love) and tell her of a Prophet from Nazareth who heals. After spending her living on physicians, she doesn't readily agree with them, but as a last resort goes to hear Him speak.

This story is historical fiction regarding the woman with the issue of blood, and Afshar drew her story from the way Jesus called her daughter. Obviously, we know little of this lady, but we know she was healed physically and spiritually, and Afshar does an amazing job placing Elianna with real-life characters and scenarios. Whether or not the Biblical story had a woman behind it like Elianna, we won't know, but either way the story is one of tragedy and love, sorrow and hope, and pain and healing. And in the land of silence that surrounds Elianna, she learns to love and forgive and trust the God of Israel anew.

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