Open the pages of the book of Esther in the Old Testament and one cannot be caught up in the age old story of a king and his search for the most beautiful woman in his kingdom to be his queen. In her book, Esther: Royal Beauty, Angela Hunt takes the reader back to the days of the great Persian Empire. We walk the streets of Susa, and meet Hadassah (Esther), her cousin Mordecai and his wife Miriam. As she recounts the Biblical story, Hunt makes a strong effort to fill in the gaps not mentioned in the Bible by using other historical accounts.
The story is told as a first person account by Hadassah and a eunuch serving the king in the palace named Harbonah. I am very familiar with the story of Esther, but I found the extra details extremely interesting. Using Harbonah’s perspective, the reader gets insight into the roles of slaves, the reasoning behind making someone a eunuch, the trauma those young men experienced, and the strengths and weaknesses of King Xerxes. Hadassah’s perspective helps us wrestle through the unique position she found herself in. Portraying her as a woman with both virtues and flaws, I found myself empathizing with a woman caught in situation far from ideal. While she was crowned queen, there were obstacles that Esther would have dealt with and this story is full of them…from former queen Vashti, to a harem full of concubines, to those who conspired against her husband.
Whether one is just looking for an interesting historical read, or one is looking for more insight into the story of Esther, this book provides a helpful and well researched perspective sure to be enjoyed by a wide audience.
(Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to review by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)