2017 INSPY Award winner, general fiction category
Before Christ called her daughter . . .
Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .
Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.
No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?
The newest biblical fiction from Christy Award winning novelist Afshar imaginatively elaborates on the short gospel story of the woman who stealthily touches Jesus and is healed. Afshar presents Elianna, whose life is blighted by the death of her young brother while in her care. The wound of estrangement from her father over this incident never heals, even as Elianna grows to prove herself a capable business partner in her father's textile trade. When Elianna later falls ill, she becomes isolated from everyone close to her. The denouement will be familiar to Christian readers, who will be fascinated by the ways Afshar breathes life into the ancient time and place of Jesus's life. Her portrait of the commerce and business of the time is fresh, making the family business a central aspect of the story. Some edges need polishing: the writer's evangelical theology occasionally breaks through explicitly ("my guilt is gone, replaced by grace") and the dialogue occasionally rings too modern. But fans of biblical fiction will enjoy an absorbing and well-researched chariot ride.
Flawless writing. Moving story. A new favourite author for me.
I struggled a bit with having a whole book written about someone that we know so little about. In the end I decided that if the biblical bits were accurate, then I could just enjoy the wonderful story.