Before Christ called her daughter . . .
Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .
Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.
No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?
Elianna believes she is cursed because her brother – and heir to the family business – died while in her care. With her father lost in mourning, she takes over the Jerusalem-based family business. Her sister is betrothed to the son of Herod’s steward and needs a dowry. Elianna is determined to provide it. Despite pleas from those closest to her, including her fiancé, she puts aside all the plans she had for her life. But how much of her determination is due to guilt and how much is down to her own pride, stubbornness and the desire for approval and love from her father? These are character traits (flaws?) we can all recognize in ourselves. But after her father dies, she is forced to sell the business and moves to Caesarea with her mother.
There are familiar names scattered throughout the story. Herod’s steward’s wife, Joanna, is included as Elianna’s sister. Lydia of Thyatira, from Acts 16, is portrayed as a child selling purple with her father. The most notable appearance is that of Gamaliel, known for being Paul’s teacher. He is portrayed in a kindly light and as an advisor to Elianna. It is through him that Elianna comes to know more of God’s character and that He’s more benevolent than she had previously thought. It is he who says she should pray for her enemies, implying that they would need all the prayer they could get when the time came for them to answer to the Lord for their actions.
I’ve never read a book by Tessa Afshar before, although others have recommended her. The story of the unclean woman who believed she could be healed if she could only touch the hem of Jesus’s cloak is an event described in all three of the synoptic gospels. We know little about the woman, except that she had been bleeding for 12 years and had spent a lot of money on trying to find a cure to no avail. Yet from this limited amount of information, Afshar has created a masterpiece of heartbreak and hope.
Thank you to Tyndale for my complimentary copy of Land of Silence, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Do you plan to read Land of Silence? Let me know your thoughts.
Publication Date: 01 May 2016
Page Count: 400