Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Daughter of Jerusalem + GIVEAWAY

In this fictionalized story of one of the Bible's most compelling women, Joan Wolf beautifully recreates the history, romance, and tradition of Mary's world. Daughter of Jerusalem follows Mary's life from her first love through her loveless marriage, to the moment she heard of a miracle worker in her own town -- and ultimately to the moment she saw Him risen from the dead.


She was a widow, a businesswoman, an adulteress. In her lifetime, she knew murder, prejudice, and faith. She transformed from a Jewish girl longing for family to one of the closest friends of Jesus of Nazareth -- the Son of God.

Her name was Mary Magdalene.

As this inspiring chronicle reminds us, Mary was the first to witness history's greatest moment. She was a woman who sought forgiveness for her sins, and a follower of God who yearned for a deeper faith.

My thoughts

Of all the biblical novels I've read that included the character of Mary Magdalene, I believe Daughter of Jerusalem is my favorite. Joan writes in an easy flowing style that held my attention while moving the story along. The first two sections, which deal with the love of Mary's youth followed by her loveless arranged marriage, are great storytelling. And the third section, which includes many of the people and events of Jesus' ministry as seen through Mary's eyes, I found very inspiring. The story makes the miracles of Jesus come alive.

Mary Magdalene has been a fascinating character throughout history, and I like how Joan portrays her as adulterous rather than being a prostitute. Betrayed by the men in her life, Mary learned a hard lesson early on:  "Never give men any more power over you than they already possessed. . . . I raised unseen walls around me and let nothing or no one come in." She strays away from the innocent faith of her youth - "I still believed in the God of Israel; I just wanted nothing to do with Him" - and her growing faith in the Messiah is a joy to watch.

The attention to historical and cultural detail is impeccable and adds much interest to the narrative. There were a couple of things I differ in belief on, but even biblical scholars don't agree, so that's okay. The story rises above that and never fails to entertain and inspire.

The way Mary became a devout follower of Christ, never wavering in her faith and using her considerable wealth to help others, offers both a challenge and example to us today. This is a story that I can easily recommend to all readers, not just to those who enjoy biblical fiction.

Joan Wolf

Excerpt from Joan's website:  Why I wanted to write this book

Mary is a fascinating figure, and has been so down through the ages. One of the reasons she is so remarkably interesting is that she is one of the very few women in the gospels who is actually named. Jesus interacted with many women during the course of his ministry, but most of them remain nameless.

This book is Mary’s story, from her childhood to the resurrection of Jesus. The backstory is, of course, pure imagination, but it is not impossible that what I describe in the novel could have happened. Her early love for the brilliant young Daniel, the betrayal by Daniel’s father when he sells her into a loveless marriage, her search for love with a charismatic Roman – all of these things prepare her to meet Jesus and finally discover that the true meaning of her life lies in Him.

Daughter of Jerusalem is about a woman, a great woman, a woman who has been maligned and misunderstood for centuries. I fell in love with Mary when I was writing this book and I think you will too.

Learn more about Joan and her books at

This book was provided by Worthy Publishing in exchange for my honest review.


*** GIVEAWAY ***

I would love to share my copy of Daughter of Jerusalem with one of my readers. Here's how to enter:

1) Question: If you read biblical fiction, what are some of the things you enjoy about it?

2) Bonus entry #1: Become an e-mail subscriber (If you already subscribe, that also counts.)

3) Bonus entry #2: Follow my blog on Google+ (Current subscribers also count.)

Be sure to leave your e-mail address. Winner will be announced on Thursday, July 25.


  1. Thanks for the giveaway! I like Biblical fiction that follows scripture, yet adds the flavor of the times through the language, culture, architecture, etc. I also like it to spur me on to a deeper reading of the scripture it was based on. Above all else, I want a good story!

  2. I stumbled upon Wolf's biblical fiction bc I liked her Regency romances in the past - have read two of her Biblical fiction, and was very please, and obviously interested in reading more! Susan Karsten (Regency writer)

  3. I haven't read a lot of biblical fiction, but I've read a few. My favorite aspect is how it drives me back to the Bible. My interest in a particular story is always renewed, and I always like to compare what the author did with the original story (not to critique, but just to know the original more).

    I'm already an email subscriber, and I am now following you on Google+.

    Thanks for the chance to win!


  4. I haven't read a lot of Biblical fiction but what I have read I really enjoyed. It is fun to look at that life from a different perspective.

  5. I love Biblical Fiction. It helps put to life the real happenings in the Bible...with historical basis. It's also a great way to teach Bible History to the kids! I love reading...and Christian basis is a must in most of my reading...I've not time for "Smutt".

  6. I am a huge fan of Biblical Fiction especially if there are scriptures throughout the book that go along with the story line. I love visiting Biblical characters that come alive for me. I would love to win a copy of, Daughter of Jerusalem.

    I am a new email subscriber.

    Judy B

  7. I appreciate all of you stopping by and entering the contest. Most of you mentioned how biblical fiction made you go to the Scriptures. I usually do that also, and think that's a great result.

    Susan, I'm a huge Regency fan and only recently discovered that Joan had written previously in that genre. Now I'm eager to read some of them.

    Best wishes to all of you!

  8. Congratulations to Beth, our winner! I sent you an e-mail just now.

    And thanks to all of you who visited my blog and entered. I hope to have the occasional giveaway in the future.