Review: Asenath by Anna Patricio

AsenathAsenath by Anna Patricio
Release Date: August 28, 2011
Publisher:  Imajin Books
File Size: 462 KB
Source:  ebook provided by the publisher



Two Destinies…One Journey of Love

In a humble fishing village on the shores of the Nile lives Asenath, a fisherman’s daughter who has everything she could want. Until her perfect world is shattered.

When a warring jungle tribe ransacks the village and kidnaps her, separating her from her parents, she is forced to live as a slave. And she begins a journey that will culminate in the meeting of a handsome and kind steward named Joseph.

Like her, Joseph was taken away from his home, and it is in him that Asenath comes to find solace…and love. But just as they are beginning to form a bond, Joseph is betrayed by his master’s wife and thrown into prison.

Is Asenath doomed to a lifetime of losing everything and everyone she loves?


Review: I was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of this book. I love historical fiction, and combining two of my favorite history topics, Ancient Egypt and Biblicial times, I knew that this was a must read.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed. This book is as vivid and colorful as an Egyptian tomb painting. I often read the story of the Old Testament Joseph and wondered about the lady Asenath, his wife, mentioned but once in the Bible. This book fleshes out the character and makes for an interesting story. As Bible readers might know, in the Bible, adoption is considered as valid as the actual physical begetting of children. Jesus Christ Himself was adopted by the New Testament Joseph and this is how He came to be considered of the lineage of King David, that Joseph’s ancestor. This book shows lady Asenath as having been a village child who lost her parents when she was taken into captivity by a marauding tribe, later to be returned to Egypt and adopted by the High Priest of the Temple of Heliopolis as his own daughter. The writer does a creditable job in bringing alive the sights and sounds of Ancient Egypt. At the same time, she doesn’t mince words about the social inequality and how the slaves were treated as sub-human. Asenath is shown as a caring and compassionate woman, having seen life from both sides, as a member of a poor family at first and later as a member of one of Egypt’s most influential families.

It’s probably quite well known that ladies in Ancient Egypt had a lot of social freedom. Living in modern Asia, I was rather taken aback when I read Asenath taking her high priest father to task for opening the seals on scroll letters sent to her by male acquaintances. It certainly isn’t the way in eastern societies today. A father is considered there as having a perfect right to take certain measures to protect the honor of his unmarried daughter. I couldn’t help wondering if the writer had made a mistake or if that really was the way in Ancient Egypt. Then there’s the matter of the papyrus scrolls. The writing of that time was quite exquisitely artistic and while people in the past are supposed to have been much more prolific letter writers than people today, I just can’t see the Ancient Egyptians having long philosophical discussions with each other using papyrus scrolls, as Asenath and Joseph are shown as doing in his story. I could certainly imagine the pair as newly wedded lovers sharing their life stories with each other, but not exactly discussing Hebrew history via letter, given the fact that producing a page of papyrus script was such an artistic labor. I’d imagine that greetings and the exchange of each other’s welfare would be about the most they could communicate through that particular medium.

Biblical romance? Well, why not? The Bible folk too were living, breathing people with feelings and emotions. The romance between Joseph and Asenath is what would be categorized as ‘sweet’, There’s much breathless admiring of each other’s physical beauty, the odd stolen kiss and walks in exquisite surroundings. Given the fact that Asenath was free before marriage, according to this book, to roam about with men she was friendly with, that’s kind of astonishing. Considering that Joseph was such a spiritual powerhouse, I find it difficult to imagine him emotionally dependent on a woman for whom spirituality was simply religious and magical ritual. I was expecting Asenath to have some kind of spiritual experience regarding Joseph’s God. I thought it would happen in quite a powerful way, but it never really did.

But overall, I enjoyed the book. It is a brave attempt to bring to life a fascinating woman who has been hiding in the Biblical shadows for a long, long time. The writer has particularly vivid powers of description, which adds to the charm of the novel.

Favorite Quote: The garden was magical. Silver beams from a full moon drifted upon the flower beds and lotus ponds. Fountains tinkled, their drops splashing like watery stars. Lotus blossoms glowed against the darkened ground. As I strolled down the path, a handful of honeybees fluttered together like a golden halo above my head. Their delicate wings caught the moonlight, making them look like gleaming petals. The bees seemed calm and I felt tranquillity wash over me.


One thought on “Review: Asenath by Anna Patricio

  1. Maria D. says:

    Good review! I’m torn on historical romances dealing with characters mentioned in the bible because we really don’t know a lot about them (in particular ones that are only mentioned in passing once or twice) so for me it’s always a tough choice as to whether or not I should read the book but this sounds like an interesting take on a character we really don’t know anything about – other than who she was married to, became the mother of and was the adopted daughter of.

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