Tessa Afshar’s fast-paced historical novel, Harvest of Rubies, presents the theme of needing to make the Lord our true refuge and strength. The story profiles the captivating life of a young Jewish captive, Sarah. The adventure begins in the eighth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign during 457 B.C. in Persia. Despite it being highly unusual for a Jewish girl to be able to read and write, Sarah finds herself in the position of senior scribe for the queen. As a result of a devastating past, Sarah struggles with self-worth, and her talents of writing, interpreting, and advising become unsatisfying pastimes -- false idols. Her journey, however, brings her to a higher calling that will inspire as well as challenge each reader’s relationship with the Lord.
This novel is well written, with insightful anecdotes and direct quotes from Scripture. It will appeal to women of all ages. The plot’s suspense, the intellectual dialogue, and Sarah's heartfelt prayers combine to make a story that is emotionally powerful and thought provoking.
The novel's theme comes from Psalm 46:1-2, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear." Throughout her life, Sarah suffers from extreme public humiliation, near death experiences, and her own insecurities, though she finds God is there and always has been. She finds her strength and refuge in the Lord and overcomes worldly lies and fears.
The history in Harvest of Rubies comes from emerging archeological finds and Greek historical records. It is historically accurate and teaches readers about the culture during the time of Nehemiah. Tessa Afshar leaves her readers encouraged and craving more with the author's notes, recipes for meals from the story, and a sneak peek into her next book, which is a continuation of Sarah's story. – Alexandria J. Stokes, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
The prophet Nehemiah's cousin can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve great mysteries. There is only one problem: she is a woman.
In her early childhood years, Sarah experienced the death of her mother and her father's subsequent emotional distance and she came to two conclusions: that God does not care about her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth - the measure of her self.
Sarah, the talented scribe and cousin to Nehemiah, is catapulted into the center of the Persian court, working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen. Ironically, it isn't failure but success that causes Sarah to lose her only source of external validation.
Sarah soon learns that she has something of worth to offer beyond her ability with languages and sums - her very being proves to be a blessing to others.