Book Review: The Handmaiden and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg

December 21, 2009 at 6:42 am (To Do) (, , , , )

Book Details
Title: The Handmaiden and the Carpenter
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Genre: Historic Fiction, Religious
Length: 153
Copy: Courtesy of the Oshkosh Public Library

Plot Basics

  • A 13 year old girl meets her future husband, the charming 17 year old that is the catch of the town.
  • The girl is visited by an angel.
  • Before they are married, the girl is pregnant, yet a virgin.
  • Joseph must decide if he will or will not marry Mary.

What makes it different

  • The focus is on both Mary and Joseph, completely leaving out Jesus except where he is essential to the story line.
  • Mary is accepting based on the experiences of her mother as well as her cousin Elizabeth.  Yes, Elizabeth the mother of John.
  • Joseph is not the strong believer that Mary is.
  • Joseph believes in the traditions of his people, but not necessarily that Mary’s son is also the son of God.

Why you should read it

  • While the Bible tells quite a bit about Mary’s confusion and acceptance, little is said about Joseph.
  • It is very cool to see one author’s view of how Mary and Joseph adjusted to their life with Jesus.
  • The bit about the Wise Men visiting really cemented in my mind how that may have taken place.

Why you shouldn’t read it

  • It challenges what the Bible says about Mary and Joseph’s acceptance of their situation.
  • It’s speculation, which may or may not sit well with certain personalities or religions.
  • It isn’t your traditional Christmas Story.

Final Word

I really liked this book, but I’m fairly opened minded about Christianity.  It doesn’t bother me not knowing whether or not it is true; it possible that Mary and Joseph had the very reactions that Berg outlines.  I really enjoyed that side of the story.  It puts flesh on a great story outline, the same way that the Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

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