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In Such A Time as This, Ms. Velez retells in unique style the delightful tale chronicled in the Biblical book of Esther. She takes us from the young girl Hadassah’s warm and peaceful home in Susa’s Jewish enclave, to the guile and intrigue of the royal harem in Xerxes' palace. Along the way we’re given glimpses into the tender mind of Hadassah as she copes with her capture by Xerxes’ soldiers, her preparation for his bed, and finally with her prominence as his queen.
Ms. Velez appoints a poignant cast of characters to add color to the story, some as close allies of Queen Esther, some as scheming enemies. Together, we tread the streets of Susa, the halls of Xerxes’ palace, and the gentle corners of Hadassah’s mind as her role in God’s plan for his people in exile begins to unfold. Reminicent of Tommy Tenney's A Night With the King, Ms. Velez takes the story further along, as the family of the disgraced and executed Haman plot revenge against Mordecai and the Jews of the realm.
The story of God’s deliverance of His people from the evil Haman’s genocidal plot through His fragile servant Hadassah is well known. But the ‘what’ of the story is not the draw of Such A Time as This, it’s the ‘how’.* The precious thoughts of this most humble of God’s servants carry us gently along the storyline, imbuing a poignant pathos—even empathy—into Hadassah’s experiences at the hands of a moody and unpredictable king, an often hostile court, and growing in her devotion to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each of these experiences matures a young, sometimes naïve, Jewish girl, who, in the fullness of time, blossoms into a competent queen—a woman of substance prepared to give her life for her people and her God in ‘such a time as this’.
* See this review for a discussion of the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of a novel.