Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lenten Book Club 2018 - "The Thief" chapters 1-6...

Hi all. I am SO glad to be resting in here with you today, my family and friends. I've had a difficult week, and I covet your prayers. This book though, The Thief, really was a balm to my soul. Despite my heart being in my throat a few times for worry of what is to come in the story, that is. :0

I have lots of Lent stuff to talk to you about in Tea Time tomorrow. Are you as excited for that as I am?! I'm SO glad that I started that back up again for Lent, and it's back to it's older short form! So if you'd like to listen, but don't have a lot of time, this new short format may be for you.


All right, so chapters 1-6. Let's dive in!

We read book 1 in this series, The Well, during Summer Ordinary Time. I really enjoyed that book, but I have to say that The Thief grabbed me much sooner than that one did. This book starts out fast, and I was immediately caught up with Mouse and his surroundings, feeling immediately empathetic to his plight in being poor and hungry, and thus being forced to steal to provide for his family. My heart was pounding with fear that he would get caught. And so when he does...


A lot of anxiety was exuded during this part. :0 Mouse is caught by Longinus, a Roman centurion. Mouse is working with a guy named Dismas, and though Dismas seems callous and selfish, he actually comes back to save Mouse. A big sigh of relief was exhaled when they both escape.

And then the second chapter started, and I was like HOLY C*#@! MOUSE IS A GIRL!! Mouse is actually Nissa, a young Jewish woman who is desperately trying to keep herself and her blind brother, Cedron, alive in the face of their parents' neglect and addictions. And she's also trying to keep the family donkey fed too. I really like that Nissa.

Nissa feels pretty down on herself because she thinks of herself as plain. Her father and various other questionable men in her life have convinced her of this. She believes that she is plain to look at, and that her sharp tongue makes her unattractive to those seeking a wife. She has resolved to be a caretaker for her beloved brother, and for Amit the donkey. Although the stealing has been working, she wants to quit and find an honest way to make their living.

Next, we spend some time with Longinus. He's a character that evokes mixed sympathies from me: he has a job that involves violence and cruelty towards others, but he has an empathetic side that he tries to keep hidden from his colleagues. In a scene similar to what we saw in The Well, he goes to the bathhouse with his smarmy compatriot, Silvanus. He hates Silvanus and his treatment of others, and comes to the aid of Silvanus's victims where he can. But he has to be careful. Silvanus challenges him to find the thief who got away recently as a test of his manhood or some such notion, and Longinus agrees. He wants out of this duty post, and this is his way of proving himself and receiving a requested transfer so that he can live in peace. I feel for Longinus, but I also have a very bad feeling about all of this.

Back with Nissa, her father's gambling has caused her to reevaluate her cessation of stealing. He has yet again gambled away what little money they had instead of paying their rent, AND he has absconded with Amit the donkey; Nissa fears that he will sell the animal to a tanner for money. I may have cried at this part.

So Mouse comes back out, and the danger is very real. Mouse and Dismas are very much at risk of being caught.

We move into a heartbreaking scene in front of the Temple, and here we see Jesus for the first time. He is intervening on behalf of the woman caught in adultery, and saving her from being stoned. Everyone is quite taken and/or bewildered by this new character, and Nissa knows that Cedron has heard of this man and wants to meet him. She collects enough loot to provide for the family for a time, splits it with Dismas, gives some to a starving woman begging on the Temple steps, and heads off to change and find Cedron.

Cedron is just the sweetest, and is immediately taken with Jesus. Jesus puts mud on Cedron's eyes, and tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. This is where chapter 6 ends. I think I know where this is heading, and I'm super excited to find out if I'm right!

I'm also super nervous, have I mentioned that? 😰 There are lots of possible yikesies looming on the horizon. I have a feeling that the ending is going to pack a wallop, since we know just from the description that we do get to Holy Week in this story.

I am loving this book. I'm getting a lot of out of it spiritually, with the timing and setting, and I find the characters very relatable. The story is moving VERY rapidly and I'm all caught up in the events. I cannot wait to read the next 6 chapters!

What did you all think?! Leave your comments below or over in the Facebook group!


  1. Great thoughts! I totally agree that this book gets off to a much faster start. I'm also a bit embarrassed to admit that it took me a few minutes to realize that Mouse and Nissa were the same person. I was so used to "The Well" and how chapters switched back and forth between Mara and Shem that I just figured Mouse was the male character and Nissa the female one. Not my finest hour as a reader, haha!

    The author does a great job bringing the whole setting and time period to life. Longinus's thoughts on the difference between Caesarea, Gaul, and Jerusalem were really interesting. Oh, and I too was really happy that Dismas didn't abandon Mouse. That's not the vibe I initially got from him, so it was nice that he came back to help. Can't wait to keep reading!

    1. Kevin,

      LOL! :0 That made my morning. But I totally get it - it was a huge shock, it may not have registered right away!

      I agree about Dismas. I thought he'd be conscience-less, but he surprised me in a good way!

  2. What a good writer! I had the same reactions as yours, Tiffany--surprised by the transformation of Mouse, sad for the family situation, slightly suspicious of Longinus. I'm impressed by how the author mingles facts and fiction, and also by her ability to explain the many daily details of the time. I read two chapters ahead before I realized it!

    1. Sorry Maggie, Blogger had eaten this comment before! Yes, isn't this book so well written?! I get so absorbed into the setting. I feel like I'm really there!

  3. I was shocked to discover that Mouse and Nissa were the same person. Although I thought it made the description on the back of the book make more sense. I was also surprised that Longinus was one of the centurions that we met in the last book. Hearing his perspective here makes him a more well rounded character. I'm still liking the way the author weaves multiple Gospel stories into her writing.
    I'm a little anxious about where the story is heading. In part because of the way it is written, in part because of legends I know that are associated with Dismas and Longinus and in part because I know it is going to Holy Week and Good Friday.

    1. Hi Melanie!

      I don't remember Longinus from The Well! That makes me want to go back and re-read that one at some point. Yes, this is my nervousness as well - I know where we're headed. Yikes!

    2. It wasn’t his name that reminded me and Longinus might not have been mentioned by name in The Well. After he fails to catch Mouse and Dismas he reflects on his other recent failure where he failed to catch the Samaritan who killed his (Roman Centurion) friend. He mentions being prevented by lepers. This and a few other remarks made me think he is the centurion from The Well.

    3. oooo, gotcha! I do remember the lepers from The Well! Great memory and tie-in!

  4. I'm with Kevin I was so confused in the first few chapters trying to figure out how all the characters were related to each other. This book def. isn't how I thought it was going to be but I'm enjoying it. Part of my lenten thing was not to use my phone for stupid things like games/sm in bed so I've been reading the book instead and doing great so far :)

    1. oooo, great Lenten idea Beth Anne! I love this idea! I'm often confused in both books and movies about this very issue - figuring out and keeping track of who everyone is and how they are connected to each other.


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