4 out of 4 stars
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Lydia, Woman of Philippi, is a fictional novel based on a female character in the Bible. The author, Diana Wallis Taylor, has written several other novels revolving around women in the Bible. This one proves to be a touching story.
The book begins with a young Lydia growing up in a Roman society in the city of Thyatira. Her father and brother are staunch Romans, but her mother has led her in a quiet belief of the Jewish God, Adonai. At the age of fifteen, her father arranges her marriage into an influential Roman family. Although her husband is cruel and shows her no love, Lydia remains a loyal wife. She gives birth to a beautiful daughter, but her husband is furious that she can't give him a son. Several years later, he is killed in battle. Lydia returns to her father's home with her twelve-year-old daughter.
Lydia convinces her father to train her in the family dye business. Her father owns a profitable business that she quickly learns to love. Lydia is intelligent and quickly picks up on the inner workings of the business. After tragedy strikes her family, she moves to Philippi to take control of her father's business in that city. While there, her faith in God is strengthened. She begins to bond with her employee, who is also a God-fearer. When she meets a man named Paul the Apostle, her life will be drastically changed.
I enjoy reading Biblical fiction. The story of Lydia captivated me from page one. Although we don't have a lot of details about her in the Bible, I believe it is a good assumption of how Lydia's life might have been. The author used great detail when describing the Roman rules, customs and worship of other gods. I could tell Ms Taylor thoroughly researched the background and kept the story Biblically correct.
The characters were well-developed and depicted accurately for that time period. I enjoyed her portrayal of Lydia as a strong, independent, smart woman who is a follower of the Jewish God. The characters came alive on the pages and enhanced the flow of the story. The only awkward part I noticed was when Lydia's life jumped from being a new mother, to having her child be of marrying age. There was a gap in her past that I would have liked to seen shared with the reader.
The life of Lydia was inspiring. She showed strength and determination during difficult times. Through all her trials, she kept her faith in God and kept her heart open. Woven throughout the story, were several opportunities for Lydia to share the good news of God's love.
I didn't notice any grammatical mistakes and feel this book was professionally edited. Based on my above observations, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed it and believe fans of historical fiction and Biblical themes will find this an interesting read. If religious novels aren't your cup of tea, this may not be the book for you. However, I look forward to reading other novels by this author.
Lydia, Woman of Philippi
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