Friday, February 28, 2014

"A Stray Drop of Blood" by Roseanna M. White

Since I enjoyed Roseanna White's Culper Ring series so much, I decided to look up some previous works.  I do not generally read biblical fiction, since the time period is not much of a draw for me, and I get a daily dose in my bible.  However, the first three chapters were free online, which was just enough to set the hook, and I had to seek out a copy.
A Stray Drop of Blood
A Stray Drop of Blood takes place during the time Jesus was in His ministry - rumors of a healer, the possible Messiah, abound.  For Abigail, a slave - albeit a well-loved one, and nearly a daughter - in a Roman household, the rumors have little effect other than to arouse idle curiosity. When her master's son takes her as a concubine, her life changes rapidly, eventually leading her to the crucifixion of Jesus.  Primarily this is the story of Abigail, but in some respects, it is also the story of the centurion at the cross. 

As I said, I do not read much biblical fiction, since I would rather read the true accounts than fictionalized versions.  However, while this novel touches on various events in the bible, largely the main characters have little interaction with real people from the bible.  I much prefer that, since I am not constantly analyzing every line to make sure it does not deviate one iota from scripture.  The parts where the characters do encounter biblical persons, yes, I was more analytical, but in regards to scriptural accuracy this novel largely came off in a positive light. 

A lot of the theology in the latter half of the book seemed a little advanced for the day and age, since this is immediately after the crucifixion and the disciples have not yet had a chance to hash out everything that Jesus' death and resurrection meant, let alone communicate it to all the believers scattered from Jerusalem to Rome.  I'm not sure I could have come to the conclusions about baptism, the Holy Spirit, equality for Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, etc. that Abigail and Titus reach on their own without the preaching of any other believer.  However, the theology seems sound, so I cannot complain too much. 

It is definitely for more mature audiences, discussing a number of laws pertaining to women laid out in Leviticus: dealings with rape, the rights of female slaves, purity laws, adultery laws, etc.  Having just been reading Leviticus, I found it helpful to see a practical example of these laws and get a glimpse of what it could have been like to live under them.  However, this novel is a lot racier than I prefer.  Granted, it has a purpose - it demonstrates in part the lack of rights women and slaves had at the time, but it also illustrates how the desires of the flesh can persuade one to fall back into sin, even after turning to God.  There are some christian authors that I do not read because though they write a well-researched story with a fascinating plot, they go overboard on the romance in ways that I am decidedly not comfortable with.  This is similar in that it really pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable, but at least it has a definite purpose beyond making a sensual romance.  So on that issue I am divided.

This is not a light, fluffy romance.  There is a lot of heartbreak, theology, and mature content woven into the story, of which romance is a part but by no means the whole.  And I do not mean to say this is dry reading - it is anything but.  I liked the plot and characters, especially since some plot twists really surprised me, and the length made for a very satisfying read, but I was decidedly uncomfortable with how sex was treated.  Not recommended for teens or the unmarried.  If there were a Clear Play version (with certain scenes blipped out, or made a bit more vague), I would then definitely recommend the book. 

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