The Shepherd’s Wife (Jerusalem Road)
Sisters Pheodora and Damaris are different in almost every way but most especially in status. While Damaris’s wealthy husband is being given the opportunity to join the Pharisees, Pheodora’s husband has been thrown in debtor’s prison. Damaris learns her brother-in-law is being made an example of by the Pharisees and is unable to help her sister. Meanwhile, Pheodora and her children journey to her childhood home and her brothers in Nazareth. She’s disappointed that her mother still travels with Yeshua, her oldest brother, but is hopeful the sale of two pure white goats to the temple will pay off her husband’s debt. Unfortunately, the festival is months away. Can her husband survive prison for that long? Does God listen to the prayers of a lowly shepherd’s wife?
Hunt fleshes out the lives of Yeshua/Jesus’s family, exploring his brothers’ and sisters’ lives. While the Bible mentions Jesus has sisters, they are unnamed. Jesus’s presence is mostly word-of-mouth accounts as the siblings wrestle with the boy they grew up with versus the prophet they keep hearing about. The women’s opposing circumstances provide compelling insight into how the church and faith were viewed in different social circles. The institution of the Pharisees is vividly explored through dress and social customs. Hunt masterfully weaves the threads of God working in Pheodora’s and Damaris’s lives, revealing their outcomes at just the right narrative moment. These are two women at the opposite spectrum of social status, yet Jesus’s message of love and forgiveness reaches across such boundaries. Despite being book 2 of the Jerusalem Road series, this can be read as a standalone. I’ve always enjoyed the rich settings and spiritual insights Hunt’s novels offer, and this is no exception. Recommended.