Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Blog Tour: Love Amid The Ashes (Review & Interview)

Is it possible for two people find love in the midst of heartache, loss and well, ashes?

That is the question posed by Mesu Andrews in her debut novel, Love Amid The Ashes, a story that brings the Bible to life as it explores the story of Job in a new and unique way - including placing it within the timeline of Jacob, Easu and Jospeh.

"In the myriad historical biblical novels I read – both Christian and secular – I never encountered the story of Job’s life," Andrews said. "I wondered why. Was it simply too depressing or was there simply not enough historical data to create a well-informed story?

"On the first day of my research in a university library, I picked up a commentary and discovered two things: 1) Job was thought by some to be Esau’s great-grandson, and 2) Job’s wife mentioned in Job 3 may not have been the same wife mentioned at the end of his suffering.

"Well, at that moment, I was hooked! I didn’t care how depressing Job’s suffering was because we all know God blesses him in the end! My real passion for the story came when I realized the women around Job were just as important to God as Job."

Though the novel, which opens with the introduction of Dianh, Isaac's granddaughter - Jacob's daughter, agreeing to adhere to Isaac's dying wish, that she will marry into the family of Job - thus bringing God's blessing to the line of Esau through potential offspring.

The storyline weaves together not only Job's struggles, but also introduces readers to Dianah's possible heartache and pain carried with her from her young life.

Through it all, Andrews said she learned many lessons from her main characters - including patience.

"So many times in the story, I wanted to rush Dinah through an emotion or rush Job through his illness, and my critique partners would have to slow the scene progression down," Andrews said. "It was very telling about how I tend to rush my own emotions or my own health issues, impatiently tapping my toe, waiting for God to 'hurry up!'

"Just as a teacher learns far more in preparation than his/her students learn from the lesson, I think a writer probably learns more from her characters than the readers do!"

Andrews said she typically writes her novels to be light on fiction and heavy on Biblical facts.

"I have such a passion for God’s Word. It is the air I breathe," Andrews explained. "I get a real charge out of finding fun, seemingly insignificant little verses and weaving them into an intriguing plot twist. I use my chronological Bible to discover what characters live in the same era and try to pull them all into the story!

"The Bible world was a small world, and though they didn’t have planes, trains and automobiles, they had strong family ties that linked them. So, for my novels, it’s not just the Bible and fiction. It’s the Bible (inerrant truth without deviating), adding in historical data (from ancient texts and rabbinic tradition), joined by fiction (good ol’ homespun imagination)."

In all, Andrews hopes her readers learn several things from her novel.

"I hope...they realize suffering isn’t God’s way of pounding people. It’s His way of turning the enemy’s evil plan to good – shaping us and revealing Himself," Andrews said. "Though Job asks 'why' time and time again, God never reveals the cosmic reason for Job’s afflictions.

"He reveals only Job’s frailty in the shadow of a loving, almighty God. Job doesn’t respond with groveling and terror (as one might expect in the presence of such a display of God’s power), but Job shows wonder and obedience. I suppose that’s what I hope for from readers – wonder and obedience as they see God in a new way."

A Look Ahead
Andrews is in the process of editing and marketing her second novel, Love's Sacred Song, the story of King Solomon’s early years and the love of a shepherd girl that shaped his character and his nation. It is set for a March 2012 release.

She has also started research on four additional biblical novels.

"I love to find famous (or infamous) male figures and then search and dig for interesting information about the women in their lives," Andrews said. "Stay tuned to discover which shadowy characters are revealed in the next four Old Testament tales!"

What I Thought

For a debut novel, Mesu Andrews has "hit a home run" with her portrayal of Dinah and Job.

Through strong Biblical research and solid writing, Andrews has created a novel that is not only enjoyable to read, but will also challenge you to study the Bible more and more. 

I'll be honest, it made me read the novel alongside my Bible, to try to determine which aspects were fiction and which were true.

I find her placement of Job within the chronology of Jacob, Esau and Joseph, helps give the story a new twist. Exploring Dinah possible role in the story was well, unexpected.

On a scale of one to five,with five as the highest, I definitely give it a solid for, if not four and half. I honestly couldn't put this novel down. It's made me think of the story of Job in new ways - and given me new images to describe Job's sufferings with others.

This novel is challenging and enjoyable. It's definitely a book you'll want to read more than once.

More About The Book
An epic story of love and forgiveness, suffering and restoration

When her beloved grandfather Isaac dies, Dinah must follow his final command: travel to Job's household to marry his son. After Job's world comes crashing down, Dinah finds herself drawn to this great man brought low. What will she risk to fight for his survival?

Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of Job and Dinah. Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.

More About The Author
Mesu Andrews is an active speaker who has devoted herself to passionate and intense study of Scripture.

Harnessing her deep understanding and love for God's Word, Andrews brings the biblical world alive for her readers in this debut novel. She lives in Washington.

"I  have lots of free resources and info posted on my website: www.MesuAndrews.com. Folks can download discussion questions and a Bible study on Love Amid the Ashes and sign up for my weekly e-devotionals. Or they can just drop by and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!"

Online Resources
A Bible Study for Love Amid The Ashes
An online excerpt of Love Amid The Ashes
An online reading guide for Love Amid The Ashes
Find Love Amid The Ashes @ Amazon.com

About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! If you liked Mesu Andrews' "Love's Sacred Song" or "Love Amid the Ashes" you'll love her new book "Love in a Broken Vessel." Check out her book trailer and promotional giveaway celebrating the book's upcoming release! http://www.mesuandrews.com/contests


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