It is eighth century BC. No Hebrew will purposely venture into the Assyrian Empire, whose practice of barbarous slaughter casts a shadow of fear over all of Israel. But God calls Jonah, an Israelite prophet, to cry repentance to the evil empire's capital - the great and terrible city of Nineveh. Fearing the Assyrians and doubting the wisdom of the divine call, Jonah flees in the opposite direction. But in a series of miracles, God gives Jonah a second chance to obey.
Journey with Jonah in a wealth-laden ship of Tarshish, hear his prayers inside the belly of a great fish, witness his struggles working in a desert caravan, and feel his terror as he finally arrives in Nineveh. And while Jonah does eventually preach in the great city, the prophet still has some lessons to learn...
With historically accurate details, Redemption is a story of repentance, trust, and God's love for all his children.
You all know how I feel about historical fiction. I want to come away from the novel having been entertained, but having learned something. I want to gain insights I didn't have before, and I want to find myself enriched by the experience. This is what I found in the novel Redemption by Susan Dayley.
Susan is a very intelligent writer. She approached this novel only after a huge amount of research, and this shows on every page. She talks about the land, the goods traded by the merchants, the traditions of the people. She paints a picture you can almost reach out and touch, and then she layers in aspects of history and the background of the culture. You really, truly feel you are in the land where Jonah was born and raised.
Then she approaches the story from an unusual perspective. The Midrash identifies Jonah as being the son of the widow of Zarephath, and she writes him as such. I have never seen this done before, and it lent a unique aspect to the story.
To be honest, I would have liked to see more time spent with Jonah as he anguished in the belly of the whale. I felt that part was a little too condensed. What was there was beautiful - I just wanted more of it. Jonah's courtship of his wife was also brief, which may disappoint some romantics out there, but romance is not the focus of the book.
If you are looking for intelligent, well-researched historical fiction, I heartily recommend you pick up a copy of Redemption. You will view the story of Jonah in a completely different way and find yourself drawn into it like never before.
Stay tuned later in the week for my interview with author Susan Dayley.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review, but this did not influence my comments.