I recieved a review copy of this book from the author last month, and I must say, I was really excited to read it. Asenath is the wife of Joseph (of the coat of many colors) in the Bible. A little known fact about me: I attended 10 years of Catholic school, preschool to 8th grade. I heard (the sanitized version) of every Bible story my teachers could possibly fit in. Joseph was actually part of a fifth grade assignment that involved putting on a short reinactment. The point is, Joseph and I have some history.
Asenath gets only a small mention in the Bible, as far as I recall, so that left the author a lot of room to imagine a story for her. In this short novel, we learn how Asenath grew up in a fishing village in Egypt, was adopted by nobility, became a priestess, and eventually met and married Joseph.
I really like the idea of taking a character from obscure biblical history and giving her a love story. I'm always complaining that their aren't enough historical romances that feature time periods and places other than Victorian England (though I love those, too). Asenath is certainly one good example of how well this can work out, and I would love to see more authors try this sort of thing.
Asenath is strong and independent. She's given a life history, hobbies, and even a job, that make her feel like a character a modern woman could connect with. Yes, I'll admit, I expected her to be a priestess that sat in a garden temple all day doing...priestess things.
I liked the sweet, quiet romance between Asenath and Joseph. It's not a sexy book or a passionate book by any means, but it is a really nice love story.
There seems to be very little effort at period accuracy. The descriptions, thoughts, and dialogue between the characters are all fairly modern. I found phrases like "Uh, thanks." and "They used to hang out." a little jarring, considering we're supposed to be in Egypt 2000+ years ago. I've got to cut the author some slack here, because I don't think anyone alive actually knows how people in ancient Egypt talked, well enough to reproduce it in English for a modern audience. But, the result is that the story does not feel like it takes place in ancient Egypt. I found this slightly disapointing.
My other complaint is that there's a love triangle with Asenath, Joseph, and a friend that Asenath has known forever. Initially I the friend was a nice guy who Asenath just didn't love romantically, and that she would ultimately break his heart. But instead he ends up demonized and...shows rape tendencies? Making him into such a crappy character out of know where struck me as a lazy way of keeping Asenath from ever being at fault for anything.
It's a short, light biblical love story. If you like that sort of thing, this book is worth spending an evening on. If your looking for a more serious, in depth historical novel, look elsewhere. 3 stars.