The Well, by Stephanie Landsem. This is the first book in the Living Water Series, which take events and people from the Scriptures, and draw them out into full length fictional stories. This book in the series chronicles the journey of the woman at the well, from the Gospel of John. Today in part 1 of our book club posts, we'll be discussing chapters 1 - 4. *beams*
All right, SO, I'll be honest right from the outset and admit that this is not the book I voted for in our poll. :0 I loved the premise, loved that it was based on Scripture, and that this book had come recommended by a friend. It absolutely deserved a spot on our voting list, but I tend to gravitate towards lighter, contemporary fiction. Thus, naturally, I voted for the cat in the library mystery book. 😂
So I started this book unsure of how my impression would turn out. I was worried that it might contain heavy material I wouldn't enjoy reading as much. That being said, I demolished the first 4 chapters lickety split, and while the setting is certainly not "light," it is quite thought-provoking, and the story is paced very well.
We have 2 main characters at the outset. Mara, our intended woman at the well, and Shem, a boy from a wealthy family who is going to be sent to Sychar, Mara's Samaritan village, due to an altercation he has with a Roman soldier in his hometown. Indeed, there are some things that happen early in the book that make a person wince. Mara's sweet little brother Asher, whom it sounds like was born with clubfoot, is seen as being punished for "sins" given his medical condition. The perception is that they are the sins of his mother, who is estranged from his father. Mara also knows that her mother is engaging in inappropriate activity with another man, and she is desperately trying to hide this information from the rest of the village, who would shun the family if they found out, and cut off their limited food supply.
Mara is bearing all of this emotional burden, plus the women of the village aren't treating her very nicely, seeing her as being less than them given her dire financial situation. Her mother, who rarely gets out of bed, is obviously suffering from a severe case of depression, but of course no one knew what to do about that back then. My heart just broke for the family.
Then we have Shem, who is injured by a Roman soldier while trying to protect a woman from the soldier's unwanted advances. Another wince worthy moment. Women are not treated or seen very highly in this society, and it is difficult to read about. Shem is sent away by his father, to protect him from a death sentence by the Roman soldiers, though his father isn't exactly sympathetic about the whole situation. But the scene with Shem's escape from his village over to Sychar was quite compelling.
These first 4 chapters certainly grabbed me. I read them all in a single sitting. I found the story intriguing, and the characters very relatable. I'm curious to see where the story is headed once Shem reaches Sychar, and I'm assuming, meets Mara.
What did you all think of chapters 1 - 4? Next week we'll move on to chapters 5 - 8!