Danya: A Woman of Ancient Galilee

Written by Anne McGivern
Review by Lisa Sheehan

Anne McGivern’s debut novel, Danya, delves into a world seldom seen in history or literature: the world of an intelligent, literate woman in Nazareth around the time of Jesus Christ. The woman in question is Danya, who lives in Sepphoris, the Roman capital of Galilee, and who yearns to write the story of the widespread resistance movement that has sprung up in reaction to Roman oppression.

In the course of the novel, Danya meets a wide array of characters from all walks of life in the Galilee of the time (including a certain woman named Mary and her son Yeshua). Thanks to her unloving husband’s position of influence at the Court of Herod Antipas, Danya is able to see the workings of the provincial government first-hand, and through extensive research and some very solid character-building, McGivern creates a satisfyingly complex picture of the social and political tensions that were reaching a breaking point around the time Jesus came to manhood. All of this is seen through the eyes of an extremely unlikely but nonetheless enjoyable main character.

The result is a very intriguing novel that held my interest a little bit more with every successive chapter. Recommended.