A Love Divine

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9780446516914: A Love Divine

A fictionalized portrait of Joseph of Arimathea provides an intriguing look behind the myth of the wealthy Jew who gave his own tomb for the burial of Jesus and who, according to legend, carried the tenets of Christianity to Britain. By the author of Scarlett. Tour.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The earnest, prone-to-ramble Ripley--of the oft-panned Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind, plus many others- -tackles a challenging, somewhat obscure subject here with distinctly mixed results. The first three-quarters of this epic comprise a carefully researched, minutely detailed and imaginatively conceived (it is, after all, fictional) ``biography'' of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who gave his burial site for the crucified Jesus of Nazareth and is credited with spreading Christianity to England and beyond. From the opening, when Joseph--a Jew and the son of a farmer--dreams as a 12-year-old of life as a traveler, then eventually marries his childhood companion Sarah, and still later goes on to highly successful business ventures transporting tin from far-off lands to King Herod's castles at Caesarea, Ripley is in control of her material and tells a gripping tale of an unfamiliar time with only a few lapses into anachronistic language. But the last quarter of the story--in which Joseph must face the aftermath of his friendship with the emperor Augustus (whom he befriended via Herod), the evil machinations of Sejanus the Jew Hater, the trials of Herod's son Herod Agrippa, the deaths of his beloved Sarah and wise old grandmother Rebekkah, the miseries of his only daughter Ella (who was born with useless legs)--moves at a ludicrously fast pace, as though the author realized at end that she still had a great deal of ground to cover. As a result, when Joseph finally encounters Jesus of Nazareth, who heals Ella's legs with a single kind phrase and begins his crucial mission of conversion, his words and newfound beliefs have more the superficial tone of the modern- day televangelist than they do the ringing certainties of a true believer. More detail about Joseph and his time--real and imagined--than many may have imagined wanting, but with the significant exception of her weakened conclusion, Ripley makes this informative read also entertaining. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

The deft use of historical detail trumps the uneven quality of her prose as Ripley's new novel (after the bestselling Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind) delivers a vivid portrait of the far reaches of the Roman Empire and of the life and times of Joseph of Arimathea. In a postscript to this lengthy work, Ripley notes that little is known about Joseph except that he was wealthy and gave his own tomb for the burial of Jesus. Basing her plot on the legend that Joseph was a seaman and tin trader who brought Christianity to England, Ripley weaves the tale of a farmer's son whose passion for the sea carries him to prominence and power while still young. She details his friendships with King Herod and Augustus Caesar, his lifelong love affair with his first wife (even after he remarries), his establishment of a Jewish settlement in ancient Britain among the Celts and their Druid priests, the healing of Joseph's crippled daughter by Jesus and, finally, Joseph's decision to preach the teachings of Christ throughout the Roman Empire. Jesus doesn't appear until late in the book; soon after, Joseph hears of the crucifixion and, in a beautifully rendered scene, removes the body from the cross. The dialogue tends to be wooden early on and contains concentrated doses of religious sentimentality when Joseph and his daughter begin their preaching. But Ripley creates several inspired historical cameos (Herod, Pontius Pilate, Salome) and skillfully incorporates a wealth of visual and architectural, as well as religious, political and social, detail into her engrossing story. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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