Cover Image: Potiphar's Wife

Potiphar's Wife

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Such a different perspective on Joseph’s story! This story is told from a number of viewpoints—Zully, Joseph, Potiphar, Ahira—and each one added to the overall richness of the story. I struggled to like Zully even though I felt sorry for her. I sympathized with Potiphar’s quandary on how to deal with Zully. Andrews has an interesting take on Joseph’s encounter with Potiphar’s wife (that sends him to prison) and her reaction to what she did. I kept reminding myself—this is biblical FICTION. We really know very little about Zully outside the Bible’s account. I give it 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook & Multnomah Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Was this review helpful?
I am a fan of Mesu's books already, and was fascinated that she chose to focus on a character that we know so little about for this one. She always describes the people and places so vividly and draws the reader in quickly. I will be posting a review in an upcoming magazine so will post the link when I have done so.
Was this review helpful?
The first page of Potiphar’s Wife opened a door for me to step into the ancient world.  I entered Crete, meeting the royal family.  Disaster strikes via an earthquake.  Princess Zuleika (aka “Zully”) has tremendous loss.  Her father, King Rehor, decides to sail to Egypt to request help from Pharoah Khyan to rebuild his beloved land, trading the only thing he has left of value; Zully, to become another wife of the Pharoah.  Because Zully’s love for Crete is so great, she willingly consents to her father’s desire.  Broken hearted, she boards the ship for Egypt with her father.  

Mesu’s extraordinary research of ancient times and attention to detail made me feel I was in the earthquake in Crete, on the vessel heading to Egypt and then stepping of onto Egypt’s land.  The Pharoad agrees to take Zully in exchange for helping King Rehor but immediately passes her off to his best friend and head soldier, Potiphar, to marry.  Potiphar is older, a handsome man and single.  I won’t be a spoiler of the book, but this is when the story begins its roller coaster line.

There are fascinating, well-developed characters –  along with Zully, Pharoah Khyan, and Potiphar:

Joseph (how Mesu weaves him into this story is wonderful; great artistry in writing; keeps everyone guessing, waiting for the Bible portion of his interaction (or lack thereof) with Zully); 

Pushpa (“mother” to Pharoah and Potiphar who is chief cook and tends lovingly to the servants and Zully); 

Ahira (from Joseph’s land, who is sold into slavery by Joseph’s brother, Simeon, who becomes Zully’s personal assistant); and

Gaios (Zully’s street rat information gatherer and friend from Crete who also ends up a slave in Egypt – OH…..he’s an evil man and I could NOT stand him!  Bravo for the emotion you brought out in me while reading, Mesu!)

I learned about ancient foods, customs, wars, cosmetics, clothing, landscapes, festivals, dancing, arts, prison life (oh, that was hard to read…..) and faith.  Here’s one of my favorite quotes:  Love can heal or harm, build or destroy, give life or death.

One portion of the book that touched me was when Pushpa said to Ahira when she first came to work in Potipher’s house for Zully.  Ahira was a broken, bruised/beaten woman sold on the slave block (bought by Joseph for the family).  Pushpa said this:  “I can’t tend the wounds inside you, dear one, but they will heal.  They may leave scars, ugly ones.  But you can choose how those scars affect your future.  Will you use the ugliest memories as the focal point, weaving every future event tightly around it with its repetitive themes?  Or will you weave your scars into a larger tapestry with more variegated experiences that can comfort or instruct others?”  
I’m sure all of you familiar with the Bible story of what Potiphar’s wife does to Joseph are thinking….so when does that occur in the book?  Honestly, way at the end of the book.  Mesu lays groundwork that helps you know the characters inside and out.  Oh, my what a story she has written!  There are twists and turns along the way which I’ll not entice you with.  

This book is a story of hardship, pain, loss, sacrifice, forgiveness, romance, betrayal, backstabbing, and lying, yet a thread of redemption and faith weave throughout the pages.  It was very difficult to turn out my light at night and go to sleep as I wanted to stay up all night to read!

Let it be said – this is Mesu’s best work to date and as I turned the last page, I was begging for a sequel, as the story is NOT finished.  I turned the page and Mesu had a note that she was writing the sequel.  THANK YOU!   I cannot wait!

This IS a book you want to read.  Entertaining and painful to read at times, endearing, inspiring, full of adventure, sweet love, and, of course, faith in the One True God.  

More, more, more, Mesu!
Was this review helpful?
Truly captivating! Mesu Andrews can take a Biblical story and bring it to life in new and fresh ways. I have read the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife numerous times. In this freshly inspired fictional account, we meet Zuleika, a princess willing to do anything to save her country. While her actions are purely evil, there is always a story behind the character and what drove them to their breaking point. While we may never fully know the truth behind this story, Andrews crafts a convincingly plausible account richly backed with research. I love the multiple perspectives offered in this story: Zulieka, Joseph, Ahira, and Potiphar are the primary four, but the others, such as Pharoh and Pushpa, remind us all that history is an account of real people, who lived real life with really hard circumstances and often made poor choices. We are all responsible and accountable for our actions and choices, but there is redemption in knowing that God uses all things. While we see the human side of Zuleika, know that God is glorified in this beautiful story. I cannot recommend this highly enough for all lovers of Biblical fiction. 

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.
Was this review helpful?
This is a very well written book. Lots of wonderful details from the locations in Crete and especially Egypt.  The main character has many tragedies in her life making her a skeptical bitter person who finds people hard to trust.  It has kind of a dark side to it.
Was this review helpful?
Ok so I have never not wanted a book to end as much as I did Potiphar's Wife by Mesu Andrews, but seriously, I didn't want it to end!!!  This book was one of the most interesting historical biblical fiction books that I have ever read.  There was real history, love, mystery, and what I cherish most about Mesu's books, there is a message of love and hope that always draws me closer to the Lord God, Creator of all!

In her other books, all of which I have read too as I am a big fan, Mesu takes a well-known biblical story and adds some characters and situations that stays true to the biblical story, but brings in her own imagination right along with it, sort of what she thought could have happened, but she never takes the story out of context, meaning she stays true to God's Word. She does the same again for Potiphar's Wife.

Mesu did intense research for this book, as she does for all her books to keep the accuracy of the times, and she found the true name of Potiphar's wife was actually Zuleika.  Here's an excerpt from her "Note to Readers" she wrote before the book begins:   
       "Though I researched intensely and made every effort to be biblically accurate, I am neither an Egyptologist nor a scholar. The story you’re about to read is faith-based and informed fiction. As with all my books, you’ll find more information about the research and creative decisions in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. But beware! It contains spoilers. For now, I hope you’ll simply turn the page and meet Zuleika, Potiphar’s wife, as you’ve never known her before."
And that's exactly what happened to me, and I literally loved every minute of it!

 In the beginning, we find Princess Zuleika at her home on the Isle of Crete freshly married to the love of her life, helping her father King Rehor with ruling, and handling a very success trade operation with other nations to keep Crete prosperous so that one day her and her royal husband can step into the role she has been groomed for since birth, and everything couldn't have been better.   She was loved by her new husband, she had parents who loved her, and her island was thriving, and its people who she loved more than life itself was about to be hers to care for completely for the rest of her life.  

One day, Princess Zuleika's world came crashing down literally!  On the small isle of Crete the ground began to shake, and it didn't stop until most of the small isle and her mother and beloved husband were dead, just like that.  She and her father survived the great earth shake as they called it back then, but their poor isle looked as if it had literally been picked up, shook, and thrown back down, hence many people, animals, and the beloved crops died that day.  So King Rehor had to do something to save his beloved Crete.  

You may have guessed it, the idea he had was to take his royal daughter and offer her as a wife to the greatest man during that time, a man who many thought was a god, and who was king over the most prosperous nation in the entire world - Pharaoh Kyhan of Egypt.  You might think this sounds like a horrible father, but this father did something many fathers didn't do back then when they needed money, he asked his daughter if she would be willing to do this, and Princess Zuleika, who loved her beloved people, was willing to lay down her life to save them, and so off to Egypt they went knowing that if Pharaoh married Zuleika, then he would help rebuild Crete!

When they get to Egypt, God had another plan for Princess Zuleika.  In the story, Pharaoh already had two wives, and he didn't want another one because he believed in being true to them, and that marriage was important.  He had a best friend since childhood who was the captain of his guard, and can you guess who that was?  It was Captain Potiphar, who was currently unmarried, and in Pharaoh's eyes needed a wife, so  Princess Zuleika was given in marriage to him, and they go to live in Potiphar's villa, and that is where we find Joseph.

Joseph, as we know from the Bible, was the beloved son of Jacob and his second but most beloved wife Rachel, and Jacob was the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the patriarch of Israel.  Joseph's brothers were very jealous of him because they thought their father loved him and showed him special favors, and not them. (You can read Joseph's story in Genesis 37 in the Bible to learn more.). Because of their jealousy, they sell him to some Midianite traders, and they in turn sell Joseph to Potiphar's household where he begins as a shepherd and works his way up to Chamberlain because the favor of Elohim (God) is with him and upon his life.

If you know the Bible story, then you know what happens between Joseph and Mistress Zuleika, but in this story, Mesu weaves a story that isn't so cut and dried. Mesu weaves many characters into this story, all whom change significantly throughout it; all of whom have their own personal battles, so when thrown together, there is some earth shaking that goes on in their lives in Egypt... Princess Zuleika has left her homeland to save it, and is grieving her husband, and is given to a man she's never met.  Potiphar knows how to handle a battle, but had no ideas how to be a husband.  He has to travel right after they are married, so to make it easier for Zuleika, he buys a slave that was actually a street rat, as he was called, from Crete who helped her father with business, and who became her best friend, and his name was Gaios.  He turns out to be a completely different man than the one Zuleika knew on Crete, but you'll have to read to find out how.

Another character we meet in the story is one of my favorites. Her name is Ahira, and she becomes Zuleika's handmaid, and best friend. She is Hebrew like Joseph, whose father was chief shepherd for Jacob, Joseph's father, and she has had dealings with Joseph's brother Simeon, but again I won't ruin the story...she believes in and loves Elohim, as she grew up listening to him alongside Joseph's family, but she had thought Elohim had abandoned her until she found herself on a slave block, and Joseph buys her as he remembered her, and she becomes Zuleika's handmaid, and maybe more to Joseph but you'll have to read to find out.

The last character I want to tell about is Potiphar's Ommi, Pushpa.  She took Potiphar in as a child when his parents died, and she loved him and cared for both him and young Pharaoh.  Pushpa is old in this story, but she still lives with her beloved son Potiphar, and she is filled with such love and tender care that reminds me of my own grandmother. She could act like a queen, yet she stays humble and loves all, and shows it by cooking for all.  Her and Joseph develop a beautiful relationship, and Pushpa welcomes, loves, and accepts Zuleika and Ahira, and helps them adjust to their new lives with live and care.  She is a one of a kind!!

So all these characters are woven together into one of the most beautifully written books that I have ever read. Before this book, I never thought of Potiphar's Wife as anything but a bad woman, but through this story, I saw that maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge her or anyone without knowing the back story a bit, even though this is mostly fiction!  

I learned so much that I never knew before, and I had to stop reading several times to look up things Mesu mentioned in the book.  I learned about water clocks, which ancient Egyptians used to tell time, and about the precious faiance they used to make jewelry and art pieces, about the different languages spoken at the time like Akkadian, and I even learned how to play a game she mentions called Senet, and I am going to play that with my grandson as I learned how to make the board.  There's even an online version which I am getting pretty good at!

What I especially loved about this book is that it shows first of all that God cares for all people, and in this story we see how the Lord is actually working in each of the characters, even if they know it or not.  I loved how King Rehor of Crete didn't see his daughter as a pawn, but really cared for her, and wanted what was best for his country. I loved the friendship between Pharaoh and Potiphar, even though some try to come between them, their honesty and transparency with each other is so refreshing!  Also seeing how God uses Joseph's talents to help run Potiphars vast empire is fun to watch.  Through Joseph and all the characters we see Elohim's love and tenderness, and willingness to forgive and restore!  We see how He loves even the unloveable!  So I guess you could say I absolutely loved this book!  It gets 5 out of 5 stars, and I wouldn't change a thing!!!

I hope you will read this book, because you won't regret it, as this book is rich in history, mystery, love, a little romance, faith, hope, heartache, fear, but eventually restoration.  I highly recommend this book!!!!
Was this review helpful?
This is a unique, original viewpoint on the life of Joseph of Egypt. Andrews casts Potiphar's wife in a sympathetic light. A gentle reminder that there are always two points of view, and the Bible gives us a limited, brief account of an experience or situation. I enjoyed the immersion into Zully's life and the insight into the history and government of ancient Egypt. Beautifully written characters shine in this interpretation of Joseph's life.
Was this review helpful?
Mesu Andrew's book Potiphar's Wife is different from any other biblical historical fiction book that I have read because no other author (known to me) has authored a story quite like this. Potiphar's wife, Zuleika, is a princess from another island who goes to Egypt to help save her nation.  The story brings in Potiphar, Pharoh, Daniel, and other characters that make you feel like you are in the room or in a theatre watching the story play out before your eyes.  There is good conflict and conflict resolution that continues to make you want to turn the page and continue to read to see what is going to take place.  Mesu's stories have the framework/foundation of Bible scripture as well as deep research into other texts to help weave a plausible storyline. Colorful pictures kept popping into my mind while reading about Potiphar’s villa and Pharoh’s court. I truly felt like I was in the prison cell with Daniel, with full emotions of a cramped dark space.  I have ready many of Mesu’s books, Love Amid the Ashes, Love’s Sacred Song, Miriam, and others.  I like to go back and read them during different seasons of my life as I always come away with them speaking to my inner heart. This is one is well done, and a must read for those who are familiar with Mesu’s books.  It is also a good book for someone new to this genre of historical fiction.
Was this review helpful?
I found this to be a quick read. While I loved the ancient Egyptian imagery I did not enjoy the character development in the story. I found myself annoyed by rather than sympathizing with the main character. Three stars for the historical imagery, the concept, and the writing.

Thank you NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
"Potiphar's wife as you've never known her before!" How true it is of this book! I really admire how the author combined fact and imagination to come up with this incredibly rich informed fiction. I was really curious about how Mesu Andrews would paint the picture of this notorious woman and to be honest, I was hoping for some acceptable explanation as to why she did what she did, I won't give away if my hope was unfounded.

Suffice to say, I found parts of the book really hard to read, especially with some of the relationships that she had. Not my favourite of Ms Andrews' books. I hope she will focus on someone more likeable in the future.
Was this review helpful?
Not your typical Sunday school story!

I did not want to empathize with Potiphar's wife. I did not want to understand why she might have done what she did.

But I have learned to trust this author who does tons of research, and truly challenges her readers to think about things differently.

Do I think that these proposed circumstances justify her actions? No. Was it a logical outcome? Yes. Do they make you have a bit of compassion? Yes.

I love how the different characters grew and made understandable choices. How God can work with whatever we give him, and use the worst situations for good. 

Even in the midst of a pagan culture and a story almost completely filled with unbelievers, you can find justice, and mercy, and honor. 

Pushpa may be my favorite character in the whole story. As "mother" to Potiphar and Pharaoh, she had lots of options. But she chose to be in the kitchen and involved in the lives of her household, in the most beautiful way.

I absolutely loved the way the author turned such a familiar story on its head, letting you see a brand new perspective, while still honoring the text.

I received a copy of the book from #netgalley and chose to review it here. All thoughts are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Have you ever wondered who Potiphar’s wife was and why she lied about Joseph?
Mesu Andrews attempts to answer these questions and does a spectacular job addressing them. Little is known about this woman who briefly appears in the account of Joseph’s life, but the author has done extensive research to create a profile of a woman she calls Zuleika.
I don’t usually pick up biblical fiction stories about people we know much about from biblical accounts, preferring people who have been briefly mentioned, or a total creation from the author. However, I quite enjoyed this fictional imagination of what happened during Joseph’s time in Potiphar’s house.
Potiphar is such a great character! He’s tough and in control, but yet there’s a soft side to him that is shown in his care for Zuleika. Zuleika, though, is spoiled. I really wanted to like her, since I felt bad for her in the beginning of the story, but as the story progressed I found myself wanting to reprimand her and parent her. And because of that, when the story proceeds to the account we have recorded in the Bible, the fictional story totally works.
This story has everything that makes an intriguing read – political alliances, dark secrets, whispers of conspiracy, evil characters, and compelling heroes.
I received an ecopy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Amazing biblical fiction filled with intrigue, suspense, love and family. The dedication and determination of each person in the story is deep and meaningful. I look forward to reading more stories by author Mesu Andrews. I received a complimentary copy of the book. No review was required.
Was this review helpful?
3 STARS! I am glad I finished Potiphar’s Wife, but I am left with a mediocre feeling about the story. 

The things I liked about the book: 1. I loved being transported back in history to the Egyptian era. I’ve always been fascinated by Egypt! 2. Joseph’s sweet relationship with Ahira was a highlight in the story .3. Pushpa was a delightful character as well. 4. The repentance and forgiveness woven into the story was refreshing. 

The things I didn’t like: So we know Potiphar’s wife was an evil woman as described by Scripture, so she’s not going to be a very likeable character from the get-go. But her obsession with Crete, and her refusal to be content and make the best of her situation with a kind husband was an annoyance for me. Also, the way the story played up to the “big moment” (aka her inviting Joseph to her bed) just didn’t fit with her character in the story. It seemed like something out of left field, and we didn’t really see a big build up of her desire for Joseph (and I mean, he’s engaged to her best friend in all of Egypt for goodness sake!) 

Overall it was an entertaining story. I enjoyed the author’s notes at the end explaining the research that went into the fictional account.
Was this review helpful?
Princess Zuleika lives through a terrible earthquake on Crete, but loses her prince Minas. She sacrifices herself to save Crete by traveling to Egypt to become Pharoahs wife. She ends up married to Potiphar, the Pharoah’s personal guard. She loses her bravery and heroism, but discovers the Hebrew God through her friendship with Joseph. This gives a real insight into Joseph’s possible life caught between being a slave or the Chamberlian. I was sent an advanced copy for my review.
Was this review helpful?
Step back into ancient Egypt and the palace of a mighty pharaoh in this beautifully crafted, meticulously researched historical novel where the writing is as elaborate as Potiphar’s apparel and the story is as exquisite as his bride’s finest crystal vase.

Before she’s Potiphar’s wife, Zuleika “Zully” is the daughter of a king and the wife of a prince. A Princess of Zakros, she rules the isle of Crete alongside her mother in the absence of their seafaring husbands. But when tragedy nearly destroys Crete, Zuleika finds herself en route to Egypt, sacrificing her future to save her Minoan people.

Zuleika’s father believes marrying his daughter to Pharoah will secure a substantial bride price, enough to save Crete and enable the isle to rebuild from a natural disaster.. But Pharaoh refuses. Instead, he gives Zuleika to Potiphar, the captain of his bodyguards. Potiphar is a crusty bachelor twice her age. He'd rather have a new horse than a Minoan wife.  (Scene stealer: Pushpa, Potiphar’s “omi” with a heart of gold.)

Abandoned by her father, rejected by Pharaoh, and humiliated by Potiphar’s frosty detachment, Zuleika yearns for the homeland she loves. In the political hotbed of Egypt’s foreign dynasty, her obsession to return to Crete spirals into deception. Enter Joseph. Everything goes sideways from there, except for Elohim….

There’s also plenty of palace intrigue. Duplicity and deceit. Greed and corruption stalk every step. Betrayal, distrust, and double-crosses slither around every corner. And trust is an illusion. Or is it?

Marinated in mercy, grace and forgiveness, Potiphar’s Wife is a rich and wonderful faith-flavored read, offering a fresh and fascinating take on an old story.
Was this review helpful?
Potiphar's Wife 
by Mesu Andrews
Pub Date: May 24, 2022
Waterbrook Press
Thanks to the author, publisher, and Netgalley for the ARC of this book.  Many of the readers at our library are conservative and enjoy Bible Fiction. 
This is a great book!  I found myself drawn into it and couldn't put it down.  
I will recommend this book to readers who enjoy biblical fiction. 
4 stars
Was this review helpful?
I was captivated by this book! It is a wonderful Biblical fiction novel. The author has done exceptional research and it shows. This book is well planned and well written. 

The characters are realistic, and I became invested in their lives. It was an emotional read, and I felt sorry for Zully and Ahira at times. I learned a lot about the culture and people of the time that Joseph lived. It was very inspiring, too. 

I definitely recommend this to all readers of Biblical Fiction. It grabbed my interest immediately and kept me turning pages until the end. I gladly give it a 5 star rating. A copy was provided by Net Galley but these are my honest words.
Was this review helpful?
Mesu Andrews writes amazing biblical fiction so I was excited to read Potiphar’s Wife. This book gives much needed insight into a story we usually hear very little about. We know the biblical account of the story of Joseph, and we know that Potiphar’s wife is mentioned - she is the reason Joseph ends up in prison after faithfully serving as Potiphar’s head of household. I really enjoyed Mesu’s account of the life of Potiphar’s wife and what could have happened. She does a wonderful job painting a picture of what Potiphar’s wife’s background could have been and some of the life events that may have influenced her decisions and behavior. Reading this book made her human to me. Oftentimes, we read those biblical stories and never really think about the background of some of the minor characters - we don’t give much thought to their motives or their history which informs why they made some of the choices they make. That is one of the qualities I truly enjoy when reading Mesu’s biblical fiction. You can tell she has done extensive research which brings a fresh outlook to the lives of the people involved. I appreciate this story from the perspective of Potiphar’s wife and the reminder that we are all flawed humans in need of grace and redemption.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Was this review helpful?
This was a difficult book for me to read, for I felt like Zuleika (Zully) was spoiled.  She was a princess from Crete.  There had been a big earthquake that killed her mother and husband.  So I can see how she was hurting.  But she had to make a decision to help rebuild her country, so she went to Egypt to marry the Pharoah.  But instead, Pharoah gave her to his best friend, Potiphar.  To me, this put a chip on her shoulder.  Along with having been a princess, she was used to getting whatever she wanted when she wanted.  But then there is this Hebrew slave, Joseph, who she was unable to have.  Joseph would not give in.  If you have read the Bible, you know what happened after that.  But what was Zully’s reaction to all that followed?  You will have to read the book to find that out.
Was this review helpful?