• Jenna Van Mourik

Potiphar's Wife by Mesu Andrews (Book Review)

#PotipharsWife #Zuleika #MesuAndrews #BiblicalFiction #BiblicalFictionAuthor #BiblicalFictionBook #Joseph #Jacob #Genesis #BibleStudy #BookReview #NewRelease #ChristianFiction #HistoricalFiction


One of the Bible's most infamous "bad girls" takes center stage in this intriguing adaptation, rich with historical facts and research.


Before she is Potiphar’s wife, Zuleika is the daughter of a king and the wife of a prince. She rules the isle of Crete alongside her mother in the absence of their seafaring husbands. But when tragedy nearly destroys Crete, Zuleika must sacrifice her future to save the Minoan people she loves.
Zuleika’s father believes his robust trade with Egypt will ensure Pharaoh’s obligation to marry his daughter, including a bride price hefty enough to save Crete. But Pharaoh refuses and gives her instead to Potiphar, the captain of his bodyguards: a crusty bachelor twice her age, who would rather have a new horse than a Minoan wife.
Abandoned by her father, rejected by Pharaoh, and humiliated by Potiphar’s indifference, Zuleika yearns for the homeland she adores. In the political hotbed of Egypt’s foreign dynasty, her obsession to return to Crete spirals into deception. When she betrays Joseph—her Hebrew servant with the face and body of the gods—she discovers only one love is worth risking everything.

I will always pick up a book by Mesu Andrews, and I will always always pick up a book set in Ancient Egypt, and I will always always ALWAYS pick up a book set in Ancient Egypt and written by Mesu Andrews. Potiphar's Wife was as exemplary as anything else I've read by Mesu and made me very nostalgic for the first one of her books I ever read, The Pharaoh's Daughter. Maybe it was the familiar setting, but I felt like I was re-discovering an old favorite all over again!


The story of Zuleika was a complicated one and reading each aspect unfold felt like being witness to a perfect storm coming together right before your eyes. Throughout the story, Zuleika is motivated to save her homeland, but in her efforts to protect Crete and protect herself she only finds more trouble.


What kept me reading were the stories of Joseph and Ahira. Ahira's journey in particular complimented Zuleika's well. They all learned or shared powerful lessons on what happens when we rely on ourselves more than God; His protection is better than any that human beings can offer.


The theme of the book is best summed up in the quote "Don't assign the sins of man to a faithful God" (pg. 112). God is always faithful, my friends. This story etched that reminder onto my heart, in case I'd forgotten it. Sometimes it does feel like the whole world is against us. Sometimes it does feel like there is nothing we can do to get out of the deepest, darkest places of despair. Sometimes it does feel like we have no hope, and can't trust anyone other than ourselves. But we can trust God.


"Don't assign the sins of man to a faithful God" — Mesu Andrews, Potiphar's Wife, pg. 112

That is the message this book—a story about one of the "bad girls" of the Bible, a character many might see as a villain—proclaims on every page. God's love and protection is better than any other. I would highly recommend this book to fans of Mesu Andrews as well as fans of ancient-world historical fiction. The research she put into it was fascinating, and as a side note, I really enjoyed learning and imagining what life would have been like in the royal households of the Pharaoh's, as well as what life would have been like for women in that time period. All in all, Potiphar's Wife was fascinating in every aspect! Research, character development, setting, description... I loved it! I can't wait for Mesu's next book!


- Jenna


*I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


*I normally don't put content warnings, but I've come to realize over the years that there are a fair amount of younger people following my blog. This story, as I said, is a complicated one and while I enjoyed it, younger readers may want to be aware that this story does contain some heavy themes and nuances. I would recommend this for a mature audience.


 

P.S. - If you're interested in joining my online book club Biblical Fiction Buffs, now is the perfect time! Our quarterly Instagram discussion group is going to be reading through Potiphar's Wife throughout June, July, and August. It's sure to be a good time full of fun giveaways, chatty discussions, and encouragement from scripture. I hope you'll join us!


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