Some books grab you by the cover.
I just discovered the adage failed us. Worthy books inspire masterful art. And masterful art like this new one created by Shane Rebenshied inspires me!
About Bread of Angels
Tessa Afshar’s new masterpiece, Bread of Angels, brings the same breath-catching color to the ancient story of Lydia, the seller of purple, as the sunset that graces the cover.
I confess. I signed up to review the book, expecting it to be a fun, romantic read that might teach me something about plotting through the reading. Surely any novelist chosen by Tyndale has to be worth my time. And her covers are so great! So I’d eventually get through it. And hopefully write a nice review.
I was not prepared for how much I’d love this book.
I can’t explain everything, because some things I loved were too personal for common sharing. This book spoke to me in ways few novels have. And not just in one area, but many.
This book preaches like a sunrise preaches.
Picturesque, unmistakable in its message, and impossible to tear your eyes away from. Okay, not impossible, but I definitely didn’t want to put it down last night and go to sleep.
And that’s another thing. I did put it down, and I was glad I did. Some books force you to read on, one chapter pushing into the next like a relay baton plowing you forward. I do like those books. But this one was too good to miss its beauty in a sprint to the next scene.
Let me show you what I mean.
She clasped her hands together. “I am going to fail,” she said with certainty.
“You are afraid you are going to fail. That’s a different thing.”
“You can’t comprehend my anguish. You have never feared anything.”
“I have never struggled with the spectacular array of worries you contend with, it is true. But this one fear–” he shoved the point of his finger into the air for emphasis–“this, I understand. I had to overcome it myself when I was about your age.”
Lydia whirled her head. “I don’t believe it.”
“It’s the truth. I dreaded failing. Fear became like a chain that bound me. Then I realized that I would never achieve anything of worth until I wrestled with this monster in my heart. You know my dyes are different than anyone else’s here in Thyatira. Do you think I was born with the formulas already composed?” He shook his head. “By trial and error, I discovered them. I found them in the dark of confusion. I dithered. I wasted time and currency. I failed. But in the end, I found my way to places no one else had.”
“You failed?” Lydia stared at Eumenes as if seeing him for the first time.
“With striking regularity.”
AHH! Isn’t that great?!
Okay, one more. I adore this one:
Her father had thrown his cloak over her when she shivered in the cold. It had been a casual gesture, one of a thousand like it, imbued with unbounded affection. Now Lydia would give anything to have those hands shield her against the cold again.
“What do you see?” he had asked her.
She had grinned. “Are we testing my eyesight?”
“No. This is a heart test,” he said cryptically.
“I see several very splendid villas.”
He shrugged. “They did not used to be here. This whole area was made of farmlands and orchards. Then as Thyatira grew and became crowded, the wealthy merchants decided to move their homes out of the city. They came here because in late spring, the blossoms would bloom, and later in summer and fall there would be fruit and harvest. Red, gold, and green covered the hills, transforming them into the Elysian fields. It was a stunning sight. They came, drawn to the beauty of the valley.
“The farmers were happy to sell their land for good profit. A handful lingered on, clinging to their old way of life.” He pointed to a small piece of land surrounded by three luxurious villas. “Do you see that one?”
A pitiful parcel of land, brown and barren, sat in the middle of the villas. In the western corner a modest farmhouse, with one wall crumbling and another poorly repaired, straddled the land. “That’s not very pretty,” Lydia had said with the disdain of the young.
“No. It isn’t, not in early spring. This is planting season, when they plow the land, turn it over, and make it ready for the next harvest. The land is plain and ugly now.”
Her father then pointed to the dilapidated farmhouse. “I know the man who lives there. He must be ninety years old by now. Born in that house and raised to the work of farming, he continues to do what he knows. Plant wheat and barley. Some of our bread comes from that farm.”
“That must be convenient for the residents in the villas,” Lydia had said, wondering why her father thought this land presented a test for her heart.
Eumenes had shaken his head. “They despise that little farm.”
“Why?” she had asked, astonished.
“Because in the winter and early spring it is barren and unsightly. Right about now, the old man starts to apply fertilizer to the soil, and it stinks! That’s what the owners of the villas have to bear with. The stench of manure and the unsightly appearance of the bare ground.”
“But you can’t have a harvest without fertilizer and bare dirt!”
Her father had looked at her the way he sometimes did, with unblinking eyes that seemed to delve into her deepest heart. “Life is like this valley, Lydia. You can be like the owners of the villa, wanting only the beautiful end result. The good things of life: its fruitful seasons, its rich harvest. Or you can be like the farmer, bearing with the stinky seasons in order to produce a harvest.”
Lydia pressed her father’s letter against her lips. She was in the barren season now. The one whose stench made your eyes water. And from beyond the grave her father was prodding her for a decision. Which did she propose to be? The farmer or the owner of the villa?
Lydia gritted her teeth. “I will be a farmer.”
Oh, this book is so good. I’m not spilling any of the story, I’ve spilled so much as it is. I’ll just say, it’s not mostly philosophizing. There’s a page-turning story there, but the truth it contains pierced me. I so hope you get to read this book.
Tyndale, thanks again for providing this book free in exchange for my honest review. I loved it.
I love Tyndale more with each book like this it sends me. Gripping, poignant, and dripping with sweet-as-honey truth.
What great book have you read lately?