Janette Oke is one of my favorite authors, and her “Love Comes Softly” series is one of my all-time favorites. However, this book did not live up to my expectations for Janette Oke. I guess I should have been suspicious when I saw that it was written with Davis Bunn. I have previously read one other series by these two authors (“Song of Acadia” series), and I didn’t really like it.
“The Centurion’s Wife” is the story of Leah, a distantly Jewish servant in Pilate’s household at the time of Christ’s death, and Alban, a Roman Centurion. Alban and Leah end up in an arrangement to be married after Alban fulfills a duty to Pilate to find out what happened to Jesus’ body. The narrative is told from Leah’s point of view as well as Alban’s and spans the several weeks in Jerusalem and the surrounding area after Christ’s resurrection. It involves both characters’ course to finding out what they believe about this man Jesus.
I have never read a historical fiction book that is based on a biblical account, so this is a first for me. And based on this book, it might be my last. Since the main character was not portrayed as I thought he should be portrayed based on the Bible, then the story was not “real” to me. Alban is supposed to be the centurion mentioned in the Bible in Matthew 8 and Luke 7. In the biblical account, Jesus heals a centurion’s servant (from afar…without going to the servant), and then Jesus commends the centurion for having great faith. Because of the way this book portrays this biblical account, I did not really enjoy the book. In this book, when this miracle happens to Alban and his servant, Alban doesn’t really even know who Jesus is. He is not portrayed as having any faith in Christ or even God at all. The rest of the book is Alban's search to find out who Jesus is, but I think anyone who Jesus commended for having such great faith would have already believed in Him. I understand that historical fiction is, in fact, fiction, but if the authors are going to base a book on history, then I think they should at least get the history right. For example, I wouldn’t enjoy reading a historical fiction book based on the American Revolution and in that book read that the British won! The same thing seems to be happening in “The Centurion’s Wife.”
Another thing that bothered me was that everyone in the book drank tea. Tea? Did they drink tea in the Bible? I don’t know. It is not mentioned in the Bible, but maybe they did. I do know that wine was mentioned in the Bible, and I thought that was what they would drink in this book. It is not a big thing…it is just something that bothered me every time I read it! I guess the authors were trying to make the book “cleaner,” as in not putting alcohol in the book, but come on. It just didn’t seem realistic to me.
I have to say also that I thought this book was just boring. After getting into the beginning and getting to know the characters, I was bored until over halfway through the book. Maybe it’s just me, but I almost fell asleep several times while reading this book, and I rarely do that!
One thing I did like about this book was that it made me think about what it would have been like to actually know Jesus on earth. Mary Magdalene, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are minor characters in this book, and it was remarkable to ponder how it would have felt to actually see and hear Christ during his time here.
If you enjoy Christian historical fiction from the time of Christ, you might enjoy this book better than I did. I just couldn’t get into it because of the poor portrayal of the biblical account.
I am disappointed that this book is from Janette Oke. Maybe it is more “Davis Bunn” than “Janette Oke” and that is why I didn’t enjoy it.
If you would like more information about this book, please click here.
I will give “The Centurion’s Wife”……. 2 BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."