Saturday, September 30, 2006

Publishers Weekly Review of Nativity Story


I'm always happy to get a PW review, and even more delighted when the review is a good one. This is from the most recent edition:

The Nativity Story
Angela Hunt, developed from the screenplay by Mike Rich. Tyndale, $13.99 paper (250p) ISBN 1-4143-1462-0

It's a difficult task to retell the biblical nativity story in a fresh way--after all, it has been novelized, brought to stage and screen, and is the stuff of endless children's Christmas pageants. Yet this companion novel to the New Line Cinema feature film (which will hit theaters December 1) should find a place on the bookshelf as a fresh and viable retelling. Hunt, the author of more than 70 books and working from Mike Rich's screenplay, refrains from oversanitizing the story, although Mary and Joseph are fairly one-dimensional (there aren't a lot of character flaws here). She depicts their gritty, hardscrabble existence as balanced by the love of family.

As a thoughtful reader would expect, the census trip to Bethlehem is no picnic, but some readers may be surprised that the shepherds and wise men show up at the stable together, unlike in the gospel account. The good-natured joshing among the three wise men provides a lighter note to the chapters where Herod's cruelty is well portrayed. Hunt balances the necessary violence with a sensitivity that will expand her readership. Her rich prose and cultural details utilize the five senses to recreate the familiar story, which spans many points of view and includes a fine subplot about Elizabeth, Zechariah and John. (Nov.)

~~Angie

5 comments:

Sheryl said...

Excellent review Angela :-) Congratulations! I know I look forward to reading the book. You have a special gift of making history, and historical characters, come alive.

Blessings,
Sheryl

Connie said...

Can't wait to read it!

Accidental Poet said...

Okay I have to know ...why do the shepherds and the wise men show up at the stable together?

Angela said...

Why do they show up together? Remember, I was working from a screenplay, so the novel and the screenplay had to sync--not perfectly, but close enough. (The shepherds and wise men show up together in the movie. So--I had to work backward and give the wise guys a legit reason to show up when they did. And I think I came up with one. I think it works, but you know me--I did address the issue in a Q&A at the back of the book. (Actually, now that I've studied it, I think they did show up fairly close together. M and J only had to linger in Bethlehem for 40 days, tops, because she had to wait for the days of her purification to pass. I'd always heard that the wise guys came up to two years later. Why on earth would M&J stay in Bethlehem that long?

Anyway, I'm happy with the result.

Angie

8:08 AM

Ruth said...

I can't wait to read this book! Great review!