Title: The Work of Thy Hand: A Novel of Early Christianity
Author: Betsie A. Gebbia
Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.
Copyright: May 7, 2021
Format: E-Book, 346 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Historical Romance, Ancient Fiction
Mira Bat-Chet’s peaceful existence is suddenly shattered when her family is killed, her home is destroyed, and she is forced into slavery in Rome. With only her Christian faith to sustain her, Mira prays for deliverance, and in one event after another, finds God’s hand at work in her life.
When she becomes a slave in the household of a patrician family, she hopes to have found a place of safety, somewhere to quietly serve, but this is not to be. She attracts the attention of her mistress’s son, and soon her life is threatened. Where is God when Mira so desperately needs Him?
The Work of Thy Hand: A Novel of Early Christianity is a story of maturing faith and life-changing events. Amidst the confusion of sorrows, mistakes, and joys, Mira discovers the certainty of God’s ordained plan.
It is 66 AD. Mira Bat-Chet is the daughter of a prosperous Christian family from Yaffa. When the Romans attack, she is taken as a slave and sent to Rome. While there, she becomes a personal attendant to Lady Verina Gallus, member of a prominent patrician family. In the service of Lady Verina, she spends much of her days going to the marketplace, attending to her mistress’s toilette, and embroidering garments with her own skill. When Drusus Flavius Gallus, her mistress’s son, returns to Rome, Mira does what she can to avoid his notice. Despite his attempts to pursue her, she rebuffs him at every instance.
This debut novel is beautifully written and has a powerful message. In Mira, we have a protagonist who is strong-willed and dedicated to following her faith even though Christians are killed for it. While I liked Mira, there were moments where I found her characterization problematic. She often comes across as flat and unremarkable, making it difficult to form a close relationship with her. Drusus Flavius Gallus is an exceedingly well-written character who adds a lot to the story. He is a character that I could instantly relate to. The author’s depiction of the ancient world is rich with imagery, description, and detail. There are times where the world of the 1st century comes alive. The plot is nicely developed and the pacing is consistent. Overall, it is an enjoyable read, but it does have its issues.
Originally featured on the History Novel Society website.