Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 2...

Hi everyone! Time for our weekly book club chat, and it's really getting good, yes?! Pull up a chair with your tea cup.


Today we're discussing Chapters 5-8 of The Well by Stephanie Landsem. Last week was definitely a setting-the-scene type of feel, and now we're moving more into character development. Here are the most significant things I remember from this deeper foray into the book:

Shem is adjusting to life in Sychar. He's come to see the life of an olive farmer as satisfying in a way that he did not expect. He's also grown in love and respect for his grandparents. He tells them the truth about why he has come to Sychar, and how his father wanted him to be dishonest about it, as well as his plans for the future. His grandparents respect his honesty.

Shem also meets Mara at this time. She's a little in awe of the handsome stranger, and he finds her just odd at first in her skittishness. But we're clearly about to move into him finding out more about her and her warm and generous ways towards her family. I'm excited to see how a friendship blossoms between them.

Poor Mara is still busting her backside caring for the family because her mother is often too ill to get out of bed. She's trying to teach Asher to walk since he is getting so much bigger, and she cannot carry him for much longer. She also finds out some shocking information about her mother backing out of a betrothal that her own father had set up for her, bringing shame onto the family. This piece of family history explains some things to Mara about the way her mother is treated amongst the other villagers.

The one day Mara's mother is able to get out and about and do the shopping, she comes home to find the creepy Alexandros being creepy with Mara. My heart is just in my throat about where this particular storyline is headed. :-\ But her mother doesn't see him as creepy at all. She seems him as this exotic friend who comes into town to romance her. She spends the evening talking to him, and then clearly intends to have him spend the night. The awkwardness of this situation for Mara is painful to read about.

Once Asher is safely sleeping, Mara runs off for some alone time and bumps into Shem. That's where we leave off.

These chapters really grabbed me. I read them even faster than I read the first four! We're getting deeper into Mara and Shem's world, and they are both very likeable characters. I SO want Mara to end up with Shem, and thus not only find a good man as a partner, but also get her family out of the poverty they currently live in. Naturally, I envision lots of roadblocks along the way. And gosh, the way people treated each other! The differences in social class, as well as how (some) men treated women. It's startling. Mara is clearly a lovely young woman who gives of herself so readily for the betterment of her brother and mother. I want her to have a happy ending.

What did you all think?! Do write in!


  1. I too want Mara to have a happy ending and I think her and Shem would make a good couple. Alexandros is super creepy and I'm worried for Mara's safety every time he shows up. I like reading why Mara was named Mara but I was sad that she never got to meet her father.

    I read the Gospel story this week, John 4:1-4:42. My bible had an interesting footnote about the fact that the woman at the well had had 5 husbands. John 4:18: "For you have had five husbands, and he whom you have now is not your husband." Footnote: "The woman's personal life parallels the historical experience of the Samaritan people. According to 2 Kings 17:24-31, the five foreign tribes who intermarried with the northern Israelites (Samaritans) introduced five male deities into their religion. These idols were individually addressed as Baal, a Hebrew word meaning "lord" or "husband"." (From the Ignatius Study Bible)

    So far we know of 3 of Nava's husbands, Zevulun, Mara's father Moshe and Asher's father Shaul. So I think there are 2 we still need to learn about. I have a feeling they will both be sad stories.

    1. Hi Melanie,

      Very interesting information from the Scripture footnote, thank you! Indeed, we are finding out more and more about Mara's mom, and I have a feeling more is coming. Could Alexandros be the next husband? He doesn't seem the marrying type, though. :-\ The thought has entered my mind, however. Granted, it seems to me that he would have an ulterior motive for doing so besides romantic love. He's only looking out for himself.

    2. I think Alexandros better fits "he whom you have now is not your husband". It's possible Nava could marry Alexandros but then the book would have to cover more time than I think it will.

  2. I don't think Alexandros is as interested in the Mother as he is Mara! He seems like he's not the marrying type to me - more the kind who doesn't care what he does. These chapters were just as interesting and fast paced as the first four. In fact, I was so engrossed that I read ahead a chapter or two. :) Shem seems like a good sort - and I like that his grandparents are accepting of him. Poor Mara - trying to hold her family together during these difficult times and trying to teach her little brother how to walk on his own. Asher is such a sweet character - too bad that people didn't like to be around him as if his handicap were somehow 'catching.'
    This isn't a book I'd have chosen on my own - but I'm actually really glad it won the poll. It takes me away from myself and the things going on now and takes me into another time and place. Not bad for fiction!

    1. Hi Donna,

      Right?! CREEPY. The Alexandros storyline is headed nowhere good.

      I am SO glad you are enjoying the book! I feel exactly the same way. It wasn't my first choice, but I'm terribly glad that it won. I'm learning so much from it! Plus it's just an engaging story.

  3. So we started this young adult bible study for the summer. And this week we read the actual woman at the well story. I hadn't read the story in awhile and after reading it I can see some of the correlations in this book we are reading and in the bible story. I'm really interested to see where the story goes.

    The whole time I was reading about "Alexandros" I was creeped out as well and then the mother sends them to the roof! That is so sad :( I do not like where the story with this guy is going and very worried for Mara. I like that Shem was honest with his grandparents and I like that he is liking the little town.

    1. Hi Beth Anne! What fortuitous timing with your Bible study! This is making me inspired to get back into regular Scripture reading.

      Yes, I am very worried for Mara too. I'm worried that violence is going to come her way, and it makes me so upset. As for Shem, I love how we are seeing him grow into his life and role in the olive fields at Sychar. It's lovely to witness.

  4. Alexandros is definitely bad news ... and I have a feeling he's only going to get worse. Mara's life is tough enough without having to fend off his creepy advances. Enjoying Shem's interactions with Mara and I'm sure they will grow closer in future chapters. So much negativity and worry surrounds Mara that hopefully Shem can bring some much-needed happiness and friendship to her. Happy 4th to you and your family!!

    1. Kevin,

      Agreed, I think the Alexandros storyline is just getting started. :( I do hold out a lot of hope for Mara and Shem. He has a good heart and would would make a solid husband for her. He would also make her happy, as they obviously are intrigued by each other!


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