Simon’s Wife

Written by L.M. Affrossman
Review by J. Lynn Else

70 AD. Shelamzion is only 19 years old as she awaits death in a Roman prison. When Fabius Cornelius Grammaticus enters her cell, the last thing she expects is someone who wants to listen. Cornelius has a goal in mind: to write the true history of the Jewish war, with Shelamzion recounting her husband Simon’s tale. Simon bar Gioras was the leader of the Jewish rebellion, now awaiting public execution. As the days pass, Cornelius finds something unexpected. This “something” is far more precious than literary fame or social notoriety. But time is against Cornelius, and Shelamzion’s life has almost reached its conclusion.

Affrossman has crafted a sympathetic portrayal of the passions and consequences surrounding a rebellion. Shelamzion’s strong will and determination drive the plot forward with twists and turns that are emotionally compelling. The plot is skillfully unraveled with Shelamzion narrating her tale to Cornelius. The life of a rebel on the run contrasts sharply with Cornelius’s privileged life, and the juxtaposition of monetary wealth compared to spiritual wealth adds an additional layer to Affrossman’s already rich storyline. Most of the story takes place during war, but its focus remains on affecting moments. The plot is deeply felt and offers up meaningful character development. Additionally, Roman life and Jewish traditions are superbly realized. Simon’s Wife is a stirring novel about love, loss, captivity, and sacrifice as experienced by dynamic personalities in a well-detailed ancient world.