January 24, 2007
The Handmaid and the Carpenter
The Handmaid and the Carpenter by
From Publishers Weekly:
Berg's sweetly understated dramatization of the Nativity story casts Mary and Joseph as provincial teenagers who try to honor family tradition in spite of challenging circumstances. Alternating between the voices of the holy couple, Berg relates a romance that blossoms at the wedding of relatives between the 16-year-old carpenter from Nazareth and the comely 13-year-old girl originally from Sepphoris. Mary, dreamy and intractable, already entertains notions of miraculous circumstances surrounding her own birth to her barren mother, Anne. Joseph is instantly smitten and engenders the trust of both families for a betrothal, yet Mary holds back, cherishing a sense of greater destiny. Escaping a near rape by a Greek man by the river, Mary then receives the angel's message that she will bear an extraordinary son, despite never having known a man; the sadly unwed Mary must return to Joseph, who repudiates her until he, too, is visited in a dream by an angel directing him on the honorable course. With Herod's decree that everyone return to their hometowns to register for the census, Joseph and the near-term Mary set off on their arduous and momentous journey to Bethlehem. Berg handles the gospel passages with a tender reverence.
Inconceivable! How is it possible that I not only didn't care for this book, but that I didn't even finish it?! Just shy of the halfway point, I called it quits. It just wasn't doing a thing for me. How terribly disappointing, especially since it was one of my favorite birthday presents this year. Rats! This is the second book by Berg (one of my all-time favorite authors) that has failed to impress me; We Are All Welcome Here was last year’s disappointment. I have read every single novel by this author; in fact, the only thing of hers that I haven't read is a nonfiction work (Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True).
On May 1st, Ms. Berg’s upcoming novel is set to lay down in bookstores across the country. I own every book by this author and rarely wait for the paperback edition. Other than what I can glean from the cover art (a couple in World War II military attire), I know absolutely nothing about Dream When You're Feeling Blue. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but this is one of my favorite periods to read about. Maybe I’ll just have to pay Barnes & Noble a visit and give the first few chapters a read before I decide whether or not I want to spend my money on this one.