In Diana Wallis Taylor’s Journey to the Well, if you know the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-42, you know the outcome of the story. But, do you know how the Samaritan woman got to that point in life? In Journey to the Well, Taylor presents her idea of what could have taken place prior to the woman’s encounter with Jesus. With her eloquent style of writing, Taylor, who happens to have a strong background in poetry and songwriting, helps readers understand Samaritan and Jewish traditions and customs while endearing us to the personal story of “Marah,” the Samaritan woman at the well, along with as a few unexpected tie-ins at the end.
Living in a time when marriage is necessary for survival, Marah, a Samaritan girl, is sure of whom she wants to spend the rest of her life with: Jesse, her childhood friend. Though he is a lowly shepherd, she knows they could be happy together. However, her aunt Reba has different plans for her and arranges a marriage between Marah and Zibeon, a local tanner and widower. Marah becomes unsure of her future. With a recurring, as well as foreshadowing, dream as her only constant source of peace, Marah does what she can with the situation that is thrust upon her, putting her determined, yet caring, personality to good use.
As more characters are added to the plot, Taylor does a good job of keeping each person separate. She describes each individual down to his or her personality traits, which results in excellent character development. Since the events in Marah’s life take place throughout a number a years, the passing of time is quick, but it is achieved smoothly, highlighting the main experiences in a usually simple, repetitive life. The author also does well with placing the reader in the story. As you read, you are there, experiencing Marah’s pain and heartache, as well as her joy and peace. This is present from the beginning, when she finds out her aunt has arranged an unwanted marriage for her, through to the end, when she meets Jesus face to face at the well. The only thing I did not like was that many of the events were described as memories, not present actions. It can be confusing at times, because the narrative switches back and forth, leaving the reader temporarily wondering whether or not events have already taken place. However, it is not large enough of a flaw to keep readers from enjoying an otherwise well-told story. I could not stop reading.
Overall, Journey to the Well is a timeless tale filled with controversy, love, fear, anger, loss, and peace, showing how someone faced with difficult times can continue with hope for the future. I highly recommend this book. – Nicole E. Dynes, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Marah is a young girl in love with her childhood friend, Jesse. When she is forced to marry an older man, she must abandon her dreams of happiness. At the mercy of men who are often only interested in using her, Marah must fight for survival. Will she ever meet a man who can save her?
The story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well is one of hope, redemption, and a life changed in an instant through a remarkable encounter. Jesus told her "everything she'd ever done," but we are left to wonder at the circumstances that led her life on such a tragic path to begin with. Now from the creative mind of Diana Wallis Taylor comes the full story of the woman at the well.