Touch of the Golden Scepter (by Lois T Henderson)

I'd never heard of Lois T Henderson; I can't find much about her online, but apparently her forte is Biblical fiction, based on the lives of women in Scripture.

I came across 'Touch of the Golden Scepter' (sic) when a friend recommended it to me. It's a fairly short book, based on the life of the Biblical heroine Esther, intended primarily for the older children/teenage market.

The story is told very well. It begins with a fictional (though believable, and unpleasant) scenario which gives a possible reason for Esther having been left an orphan, brought up by a relative. We see her, with her Jewish name of Hadassah, slowly maturing from a young, frightened girl into a competent, intelligent teenager. When the King - a very powerful ruler - wants to meet a selection of women, from whom he hopes to find a suitable bride, Esther is a natural choice despite her many reservations.

Even knowing the basic story, I found the account in this novel fascinating, and believable. Naturally the Bible story is enlarged upon, and much depends on the imagination of the author. But I thought it very well written, blending smoothly with the Biblical narrative. Since it's intended for young teenagers (and was published nearly thirty years ago) it glosses entirely over the function of a harem - which is where Esther was first taken - but that doesn't detract at all from the story. It's a gentle love story, and also the account of a remarkably courageous young woman.

Long out of print, but worth a read by anyone who comes across it who's interested in teenage historical fiction.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 7th November 2010

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