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September 26, 2022

Review in Haiku: Sarah

By Katrina Stonoff

Young Sarah's choices
make her barren High Priestess,
then Abraham's wife.

I have been haunted for years by The Book of Abraham, by Marek Halter. It's an epic tale that follows a Jewish family through the ages.

When I learned recently that Halter had published a number of books since Abraham, I was ecstatic. I wanted to order them all, but I made myself be sensible. I ordered only Sarah, the first in his Canaan Trilogy.

And I'm glad I did -- only ordered one, I mean. Because Sarah became the first book I put down unfinished since I decided to implement the 50-page rule. If an author doesn't capture me in 50 pages, I'm clearly not his target audience.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with Sarah. It just didn't grab me.

Why not? First, I didn't like Sarah, the character, very much. She was arrogant and egocentric. Not to mention, she could do absolutely everything (shades of Clan of the Cave Bear where Ayla singlehandedly advances her culture several hundred years, though she does fall short of discovering electricity or inventing the internet).

Second, I read biblical fiction to see how the author interprets the story, and to make it come alive. But when I finally bailed on Sarah (some 150-200 pages in), Halter had only just gotten to the scene in Egypt where Abraham tells everyone she is his sister, and if I remember my Old Testament, that happens fairly early on in her life. Certainly long before the much more dramatic and historically/religiously significant events.

I love to read in bed at night before I fall asleep. I've done it since I was a child, sneaking a flashlight under the covers with me.

But when I realized I was turning off the light and going straight to sleep, night after night, without reading Sarah, I finally put it aside.

I gave it to my mother. She likes Biblical fiction even more than I do, and will probably love it (though I expect she'll point out all the places where Halter veered in the smallest way from the King James version of events).

But me? I'm moving on to something that grabs -- and holds -- my attention.

Article © Katrina Stonoff. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-03-03
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