There is something special about biblical novels. These books bring the historic time period to life, letting readers experience the culture, customs and everyday lives of the people. They pull back the curtain of history and give readers, ‘ah ha’ moments that provide insight into reasons and motives for some of the stories found in the Bible. Tessa Afshar’s second novel, Harvest of Rubies,  is a fascinating look at the time period of the prophet Nehemiah.

Harvest of Rubies
By Tessa Afshar
River North

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar

The story centers on Sarah, the cousin of the prophet Nehemiah, who serves in the court of the King of Persia. The daughter of one of the king’s scribes, Sarah can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve great mysteries.

When she was young, despite all her prayers, Sarah’s mother died. When she needed him most, her father distanced himself from her; it was only when he discovered she could read that he finally showed interest in her. This convinced her of two things: God did not care for her and her value to other people lay in her accomplishments.

A serendipitous event catapulted her into the position of scribe to the Persian Queen, where she is drawn into court intrigue. When the Queen gives Sarah an unusual task, instead of bringing a blessing, her fortuitous success causes Sarah to lose her only validation.

Facing a new life, Sarah learns that her worth goes beyond skills to what is of true value; her heart.

Iranian-born, Tessa Afshar weaves a lovely tapestry in this novel. It is rich in detail about the customs, clothing and culture of this time period. Her characters are fully-fleshed with both strengths and flaws. The storyline is quick-paced and believable and leaves readers thankful that she will pick up Sarah’s story in her next book.

If you are a fan of biblical novels like Frank Slaughter’s “The Robe,” or “The Big Fisherman,” or Marjorie Holmes, “Two from Galilee” then you’ll love Harvest of Rubies.