As some of our readers know, I am generally not much on Christian Fiction. In fact, I can count the number of Christian lit books I have read on one hand. But there is one writer who has a knack for putting it all together and still making it read well. Francine Rivers is the author of Redeeming Love, perhaps the best modern Christian lit book. I read it last year and could not put it down and could barely stop crying as I read it. Yes, there are drastic differences in her writing from that of the authors I normally read. Yes, it is Christian Romance fiction and I have never read a romance novel (secular) in my life. So it is outside the norm for me. But, my mother-in-law loves all things Christian lit and was so excited that I read Redeeming Love that she gave me Francine Rivers Lineage of Grace last year for Christmas. It is a collection of novellas about five of the women in the Messianic family tree: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.
Rivers takes the Biblical accounts of these women and breathes life into the flesh and bones outlines of these women. Where the Bible is silent on the emotions of most of these women, Rivers ponders the struggles with temperament these women in extraordinary circumstances might have had. In Rahab's story, Unashamed, the result is a greater picture of the scope of salvation, the hope of the coming Lord, and unwavering faith in a God who is able.
Rivers is a little more heavy handed in Rahab's story than I remember her being in Tamar's story. It feels almost constrained by the Biblical account, where Tamar's story expanded it. That is not to say that the Biblical account is something that should be brushed off in the pursuit of poetic licence. Rather, Rivers seemed to use the paintbrush lightly on this one. She just added touches around what was already a masterpiece. Where Tamar's tale illuminated the cultural significance of certain Biblical events, Rahab's story did not. Rivers, instead focused on broader Biblical themes of waiting on the Lord, trusting His power and His plan, and the grafting in of Gentiles.
Another accomplishment of Unashamed is the hypothetical wrangling Rivers does with the facts. She provides the answers to: How did that happen? For those who question the veracity of the Biblical account of the walls of Jericho simply falling at the sound of trumpets and the marching of feet, Rivers offers an interesting explanation. For those wondering how a Gentile harlot wound up in the lineage of the Christ, Rivers offers a most unlikely romance.
I recommend the reading of these novellas after reading the Biblical accounts. They breathe new life into the Hebrew stories of redemption for a modern world that barely understands the ancient culture and customs.
Rating: 4.6 of 7