Potiphar's Wife gives me yet another reason why I love books by Mesu Andrews. I loved it. It is getting five plus stars.
“Potiphar’s Wife” is the eleventh book by Mesu Andrews and to be part of a two-part series. After a two year wait for a new book by this award-winning author, it did not in the least disappoint. Andrews provides us with a thrilling novel full of political intrigue and a redemption story that rivals that of one of her previous novels, “In the Shadow of Jezebel.” This book does not fail to bring the unexpected.
The novel introduces us to the character of Princess Zuleika or Zully for short. Zully is a Minoan princess who has been immediately pressured by her father to go to Egypt to marry the Pharoah in a desperate attempt to save Crete following a tragedy that devastates the island and kills her husband. Given no time to truly think through the decision or grieve, she finds herself sailing for Egypt with the hope that a bride price will be enough to save the island she loves. But in Egypt, she is cast aside by the Pharoah and given to his best friend, Potiphar, instead. What follows is a tale of abandonment, betrayal, manipulation, abuse, and deception. Zully continually hurts everyone around her in devasting ways in response to her pain and longing for her home. Yet, her faithful maid, Ahira, Potiphar’s adopted mother, and Joseph keep pointing her to the healing that can only be found in the one true God.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this novel is the integration of the Hyksos dynasty into the novel. I found Andrews’ portrayal of this era incredibly compelling. The explanation for how the Hyksos got into Egypt beautifully ties into the Biblical narrative of the patriarch era. This is a not to be missed, delightful thing to ponder aspect of the novel.
“Potiphar’s Wife” is a compelling and inspiring look into this facet of Joseph’s narrative and through it all gives us, the reader, a deeper view into God’s mercy and grace.
A unique addition to biblical fiction, Potiphar's Wife brought the worlds of ancient Egypt and Crete to life vividly. I especially appreciated the way the author expertly used the historical context to ground the story and themes. It's not often in biblical fiction that I come across an "anti-hero", which is what the main character, Zully, is for most of the novel, and the author really developed my sympathy for this character -- though I rooted continually for her to see the error of her thinking and change.
As the book drew to a close, I was surprised to find that Zully remained committed to her path of foolishness -- and I was applauding the author for making the hard choice of showing an unredeemed heroine. But then Zully makes a seeming (rushed) 180-turnaround -- though, I found, it wasn't really that, since she still is committed letting her art and Crete "fulfill" her -- and finds faith in Elohim -- though she leaves her husband and returns to her homeland. The ending fell very flat for me, especially because the characters I actually cared about (Joseph, Ahira, and Potiphar) have stories that are left unresolved. So that did disappoint me.
However, the story is still told beautifully, the characters and plot drove me to keep reading, and the historical content piqued my interest in Ancient Egypt. I enjoyed the book, but I didn't love it as much as I have this author's other novels.
I'll start by saying that this book was not quite what I expected. Those who know the Bible stories in Genesis, know the story of Potiphar's wife, who was the consummate bad girl of the Bible as the one who begged our hero Joseph for sex and then claimed attempted rape when he refused her. This book follows Zuleika (Potiphar's wife) and shows her motivations behind these happenings. This book was filled with themes of redemption as Zully continued to make bad choices in search of her dreams. Also a large theme of belonging was included in this novel as Zully seeks out her place in the world. There was a great deal of rich culture included in this book, both Egyptian (as a majority of the book takes place in Egypt) and Minoan as Zully is a Minoan Princess from the island of Crete. While I sympathized with Zully, I never did come to like her as a character, and that influenced the liking of the book for me. However, it was well written and an enjoyable delve into what could be behind the stories in the Scriptures about Joseph's time serving in Potiphar's house. I would definitely recommend reading the author's note at the end to show what was fact and what was fiction in the story itself. All in all, an enjoyable read and one I would recommend to fans of Biblical historical fiction or those that enjoy ancient cultures. Special thanks to the author and publisher for an advance copy of this novel. I was under no obligation to provide a review and the thoughts contained herein are my own.
A very different look at what could have happened in her life. A sad reminder of things that were done to people and how they had to live. A stark reminder to hold on to God's love.