Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Liar's Gospel (Naomi Alderman)

The Liars' Gospel by Naomi

The Liar's Gospel is the stories of 4 characters connected to Jesus of Nazareth: his mother, Mary; his betrayer, Judas; his persecuter, Caiaphas; and his accidental rival, Barabbas. Four chapters, four characters, four viewpoints-each from the first person.
It has taken me a while to review this book, simply because I wasn't sure what to say about it.
I must first say that I am a Christian, and although this book is pretty far off from what Christians are generally taught, it was very interesting. Who is to say it did not happen this way? The characters were very realistic, flawed and human. And although each of the characters play an important part in Jesus' life, Jesus didn't always figure prominently into their lives. To some he was a passing madman, someone to feel sorry for, or simply forget.
I enjoyed the author's simple, earthy writing style, and appreciated that she held no punches. As a Christian, the lack of divinity (for lack of a better phrase!) was sometimes hard to take, but I made it through and I am glad that I did.
My favorite line of the book comes from Caiphas--"This?" He asks...he lives a whole life and is remembered for "This?" Pretty brilliant.

House of Rocamora (Donald Michael Platt)

House of Rocamora

House of Rocamora is the continuing story of Vicente de Rocamora, former confessor to the Royal House of Spain and former candidate for Inquisitor General, now an exiled and self-circumcised Jew named Isaac.
Vicente has left Spain in his long journey to find himself and peace for his soul. He has lost all he holds dear and must start anew. He has traveled to Amsterdam in 1643, seeking to find a broad-minded society and to study his true calling, medicine. Although many question his desire to start a new career in his forties, they are also flattered to be acquainted with such an illustrious person and impressed by his intelligence and intensity. As years pass, Isaac de Rocamora does find a measure of harmony in his career and new family, but as with everything in his long life, tragedy intertwines with fulfillment, and at the last he finds himself again seeking his soul’s peace.
This book is well-written, though it is a bit slow in the beginning, as Isaac is still unclear about his true path and does some wandering. It will help the reader to have read the first book in this series, Rocamora, to understand the impact of events happening in the early sections of this novel. The story picks up as Isaac begins to see his way and put his plans and ideas into action. I enjoyed both books in the series, though I believe I enjoyed this sequel a bit more than the first book, and look forward to the next, which I hope is not too long in coming.
My review courtesy of the Historical Novel Society.