• Author: Carole Towriss
• Category: Historical Fiction
• Publisher: DeWard Publishing (2012)
• Format: softcover
• Page Count: 284
• ISBN#: 9781936341481
• List Price: $13.99
• Rating: Highly Recommended
One of the biggest stories in the Bible is that of the Exodus. Everything about the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea just seems larger than life. I always envision Charlton Heston, who plays Moses in the 1956 classic movie The Ten Commandments, with his rod stretched over the Red Sea and the multitude surrounding him. Something about this particular story seems to invite imaginative retellings, and many a Sunday School teacher has played on the active imaginations of children as they describe the amazing adventures of Moses and the Israelites. Illustrators and movie makers have a field day with this tale, and rightly so.
In all of the stories, retellings and adaptations I have seen (on screen and otherwise), I had never come across the particular angle explored by Carole Towriss in her new novel In the Shadow of Sinai. She follows the tale of Bezalel, the skilled craftsman appointed by Moses to work with the gold and precious stones. He is the artist who made Moses’ vision of the ark of the covenant come to life. And while no picture exists of the actual ark, countless recreations and depictions abound, testifying to the lasting beauty and allure surrounding this particular sacred artifact.
Towriss imagines Bezalel learning his skill in service to the Pharaoh, and follows his personal struggles that come with being plucked from the Egyptian mud-brick fields to the relative luxury of the palace. Towriss throws in a love story, of course, but what was most intriguing to me was her realistic portrayal of life in ancient Egypt.
Crafting the story around Bezalel allows Towriss to tell the tale of the ten plagues through an onlooker’s eyes. Bezalel doesn’t see everything take place, and doesn’t know what Moses is planning. And the plagues’ devastation doesn’t always make him happy. Just what is Yahweh up to, anyway?
Towriss takes us from the Egyptian palace to the deserts of Sinai, following the journey of the Israelites across the Red Sea, to the golden calf and the making of the Tabernacle. She introduces us to other biblical characters along the way, but packs enough tension and life into the plot to keep the attention of her readers.
For a first novel, the book is quite good. Even though Bible readers familiar with Moses’ written account will know the basic contours of the story, the specific details of Bezalel’s life and those around him unfold in unexpected ways. In the Shadow of Sinai is a satisfying romp through vaguely familiar territory and by the end, you’ll be longing for more. And like me, you’ll be pleased to learn that Towriss has two additional novels in this series planned.
Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, writes and waits for summertime to return to the beach. You can find her at CaroleTowriss.com.
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Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher via CrossFocusedReviews.com. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.