Monday, April 5, 2010

The Centurion's Wife, by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke (Bethany House)


(Click cover for more information)

You'd expect a collaborative effort between two authors as accomplished as Mr. Bunn and Ms. Oke to be something special, something uniquely satisfying in both form and expression. The Centurion's Wife does not meet that expectation. It leaps far beyond it.

In form, the authors have done seemingly the impossible. They've taken a historical era trodden upon by so many authors from so many angles and in so many ways that it seems there'd be no verdant literary soil left among all the typewritten footprints to sow, and yet they still created a fresh and intriguing story. The central characters are Leah, a niece of Pontius Pilate driven to servitude in his household, and Alban, a centurion from the conquered territory of Gaul. They have irreconcilable amibitions. Leah's precludes marriage, and Alban's necessitates marriage--specifically to Leah. Oh, it gets better. Leah is pushed by Pilate's wife to discover the means and intentions of the followers of the Christ her husband has put to death, and Pilate forces Alban to do the same. Neither Pilate nor Procula know of the other's scheme, neither Alban nor Leah know of the other's mission. But the servant's and soldier's divergent goals paradoxically force their paths to merge where they encounter an irresistable force: the lure of a fledgling Gospel, and a purity of love and acceptance among its adherents--the very community Leah and Alban are to spy upon.

In expression, such beauty flowing from a single pen wielded by two master craftsmen of the literary art is something to behold. As I read, I made a distinct effort to try to identify those passages where I thought Mr. Bunn was manning the keyboard, and those points where Ms. Oke nudged him aside to color the text in her own way. Huh uh. They wove the tapestry so skillfully, that even the most subtle shifts in shading melded together seamlessly. One story, one theme, one narrative born of two minds united by the same irresistable force that ultimately united their heroes.

The Centurion's Wife is the first book in the "Acts of Faith" series. The second, The Hidden Flame (2010) carries the story forward into the early days of Christianity, and promises to be as satisfying as The Centurion's Wife. Tell you what: I'll let you know. While you're waiting, get a copy of The Centurion's Wife. You won't be sorry.



Millie Samuelson said...

Sounds like a great, worthwhile read, especially for someone like me who's fascinated with Biblical fiction! But I doubt it could be any better than reading your review, Bruce -- which reminds me how much I like YOUR writing style. In other words, I'm eager for YOUR next book. . . Blessings! :-)

Bruce Judisch said...

Millie, you're a gem, but the review pales next to the book. It was really good. Jeannie's mom is reading the sequel now. Can't wait for her to finish. :-)

Cheers! Bruce