Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Eleventh Brother by Rachel S. Wilcox


When Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, is sold into bondage by his brothers, Egypt is a land in turmoil—its fortune determined by the unpredictable rains that either bring prosperity or leave the people in famine and starvation. But Joseph is no common slave. Imprisoned and forgotten by all but God, he interprets a dream that reveals the future and alters his destiny. Now with his privileged Egyptian-born wife, Asenath, at his side, Joseph's transformation from the boy in the pit to the ruler of Egypt is nearly complete. But position and power cannot erase the bitterness he holds deep inside. When he suddenly comes face to face with the family that betrayed him, Joseph devises a plot to test his brothers' true character. Yet even revenge may not fill the aching hole in Joseph's heart, and the influence of a beautiful woman may be his only hope for redemption.


 After spending her high school years in the south of France, RACHEL K. WILCOX studied philosophy, literature, and film at Brigham Young University, where she graduated as the valedictorian. After college, she moved to West Africa to make a documentary film and instead used her camera to co-found a humanitarian project. She has been a researcher and case writer at Harvard Business School and writes and researches in the interdisciplinary fields of law and the humanities. She is in her final year of law school at Stanford University.


The story of Joseph of Egypt is one that I have long been fascinated by.  But the Bible doesn't give a whole lot of detail, just the essentials.  So when I heard about this book I was instantly interested.  But like all stories based on real people, places, and events, I went into it with a healthy dose of skepticism. But the lengthy author's note at the end and the detailed descriptions make it clear that the author did her homework.  Many of the chapters are named after the verses in the scriptures where that part of Joseph's story is told.  I greatly appreciated the fact that the author clearly focused on the events that the Bible describes.  All of this makes for an interesting read that created more empathy in me for the difficult things that Joseph experienced on his way to the position he ends up occupying. And of course, a position of power doesn't make things easier necessarily since Joseph was living in a culture not his own.  The thing I especially love about historical fiction is how it can help the reader imagine the feelings that a person might have experienced, somehow it makes the person seem more real and human.  And this is an excellent example of the genre that I can recommend to those who, like me, are fascinated by the story of Joseph.  I was also struck as I read this by the parallels between Joseph's experience and the Savior's.  Joseph was sacrificed so that he could later save his family.  Jesus was sacrificed so he could save his family.

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