Miriam

MiriamMiriam by Mesu Andrews
Series: Treasures of the Nile
Genres: Biblical Fiction
Published by Waterbrook Press on March 15, 2016
Pages: 384
Also by this author: The Pharaoh's Daughter

 

About Miriam (from the back cover):
The Hebrews call me prophetess, the Egyptians a seer.
But I am neither. I am simply a watcher of Israel
and the messenger of El Shaddai.
When He speaks to me in dreams, I interpret. When He whispers a melody, I sing.

At eighty-six, Miriam had devoted her entire life to loving El Shaddai and serving His people as both midwife and messenger. Yet when her brother Moses returns to Egypt from exile, he brings a disruptive message. God has a new name – Yahweh – and has declared a radical deliverance for the Israelites.

Miriam and her beloved family face an impossible choice: cling to familiar bondage or embrace uncharted freedom at an unimaginable cost. Even if the Hebrews survive the plagues set to turn the Nile to blood and unleash a maelstrom of frogs and locusts, can they weather the resulting fury of the Pharaoh?

Enter an exotic land where a cruel Pharaoh reigns, pagan priests wield black arts, and the Israelites cry out to a God they only think they know.

In Miriam Mesu Andrews has created a gripping, well-researched novel that is a continuation of the story begun in The Pharaoh’s Daughter. After falling in love with Mesu’s writing in that novel, I opened Miriam with great anticipation. Written in a dramatic yet realistic style, this story captured me from the very first page. Mesu has taken great care in staying true to the Biblical text, while fleshing out parts of the story that are not touched on in scripture. I thought it was an interesting decision to have the story primarily from Miriam’s perspective, and a couple of other characters, but not Moses himself. I think it really allows the reader to imagine how they would have responded to the message that Moses brought the captive people in Egypt.

In Miriam Mesu Andrews has created a gripping, well-researched novel that is a continuation of the story begun in The Pharaoh’s Daughter.

I was continually impressed by the realism of Miriam and the other characters. Since the events in book one, Miriam has aged and become a beloved prophetess and healer of her people. She is used to this role, as well as used to hearing God speak to her directly. Upon the arrival of Moses, she begins to doubt this role, and her reactions are very genuine and realistic. She doesn’t respond meekly, but rather questions God and presents insecurities in a very human way. I think it gave a lot of nuance to her character, as well as providing encouragement to the reader that everyone has seasons that are filled with more doubt than at other times. It just made her character that much more relatable.

I was continually impressed by the realism of Miriam and the other characters.

Another key character, Eleazar, has this quality of realness to him as well. Despite being a slave, he is also a soldier and warrior, who once fought in battles, but now protects Pharaoh’s second son, Rameses. He is very stubborn and resistant to change, particularly the commands of a God that he doesn’t know or understand. As Miriam’s nephew, he is respectful of her faith, but doesn’t agree with it. He provides the perspective of a non-believer, slow to believe in contrast to Miriam’s deep, abiding faith. Having these two conflicting perspectives adds a great depth to the story that otherwise wouldn’t have been there if the story only came from Miriam’s point of view.

While the plot is not surprising to readers familiar with the Biblical story, it was surprisingly suspenseful! I could feel the tension of the Egyptian throne room, and the danger that the Hebrews faced every day was nearly palpable at times. Every time Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh on his throne, I feared for them, even though I knew exactly how Pharaoh was going to respond. In contrast to that, there were the lovely scenes in Miriam’s home, where her family gathered for their meals and times of fellowship. Those scenes just had a very warm quality to them. I realized that there were certain aspects of the story that I had never really thought about in earnest – the Passover scene had a strong, emotional impact on me; I had never really imagined being “passed over” but knowing that your neighbors were not. Throughout the whole story, the descriptions enveloped me fully into whatever scenes I was reading. Both the historical details and the humanness of the characters’ experiences made each moment compelling and readable.

While the plot is not surprising to readers familiar with the Biblical story, it was surprisingly suspenseful!

I came away from reading Miriam with a renewed desire to dig into the account found in scripture, which I think is the best indicator of a well-done Biblical fiction novel. I don’t always react that way when I read a novel that tells a story found in the Bible, so the fact that I’ve done that with each novel of Mesu’s that I’ve read says a lot. She is one of my favorite authors in this genre. I’m hoping the Mesu comes back and visits the story of Joshua, who plays a smaller role in Miriam. I know in her hands it would be authentic, well-researched and encouraging, just like Miriam and The Pharaoh’s Daughter. Though you don’t have to read The Pharaoh’s Daughter to enjoy Miriam, definitely do give them both a read. I highly recommend Miriam for fans of historical fiction, especially set during the Biblical times.

–Beth


When thinking about my overall impression of Miriam, my first thoughts are beautifully captivating.  This is a gorgeous story that captures not only the despair and oppressive fear of slavery, but also the depths of God’s love and vengeance.  The book brings to life historical figures and intimately connects them with the reader, showing how their journey isn’t that much different than our own.  Miriam is a wonderful book that highlights not only Pharaoh’s stubbornness, but the burgeoning faith of the Israelites.

Miriam is a beautifully captivating story that brings new life to a pivotal event in Israel’s history.

I always enjoying seeing how events in the Old Testament connect to the New Testament and ultimately shape our relationship with God today.  While reading Miriam, it was fun to see how different pieces fit together and to watch the faith of each character grow.  While this book is titled Miriam, it encompasses many more characters and each share a significant part of this book.  However, one of the most enjoyable aspects was watching Miriam’s spiritual growth.  Perhaps more than any other character, her journey was the most difficult.  She wasn’t just learning to trust and obey God, she was relearning how to commune with God.  Her struggle was authentic and relatable and I loved watching her grow and understand God’s constant presence.

However, in terms of purely loveable characters, I have to go with Eleazar.  I’m not sure everyone will connect with him as I did, but I thoroughly enjoyed following his journey.  Miriam’s description of a gentle giant is perfect; a soldier, driven by fear, but devoted to his family.  While many of his decisions are frustrating, his character makes them understandable and the reader always hold hope that he makes the right decisions.  His relationship with Pharaoh’s son, Prince Ram is complex, capturing the intricacies of a master/slave relationship with a level of authentic respect.  Via Eleazar, I found myself with more conflicted feelings towards Prince Ram than any other character.

This is a familiar story, but in Miriam the reader is given depth and emotion that makes the Israelite’s choices more understandable.

I am thoroughly impressed with Mesu’s telling of the Exodus story.  This is a familiar story, but in Miriam the reader is given depth and emotion that makes the Israelite’s choices more understandable.  It is quite easy to shake our heads at the continued rebellion and lack of trust by the Israelites, but Miriam makes it a lot harder to judge them so harshly.  Through this book, Mesu shows the struggle to trust and to learn a faith that had been largely forgotten.  This was a group controlled by fear and comfortable with slavery.  This book brings out the trepidation felt by the most trusting Israelites as they take those first steps toward freedom.

I never take a highlighter to a novel, but I wish I had this one; I probably would have more yellow than white.

I never take a highlighter to a novel, but I wish I had this one; I probably would have more yellow than white.  It seemed like every page revealed something noteworthy about God and how He works through and with people.  There are numerous pieces of wisdom and encouraging words.  Add to these beautiful illustrations that link to Jesus and this book is easily one of my favorites.

I was not ready for this book to end and though I know what happens next, I’m going to be sad when some of those events occur.  However, I know the characters are in good hands and that Mesu will clearly highlight God’s plan and provisions throughout the coming events.  Whether or not the Exodus story is familiar to readers, Miriam is a book well worth reading.  It’s a beautifully captivating story that brings new life to a pivotal event in Israel’s history.  I highly recommend this one!

–Melissa

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