I love stories – stories of bravery, sacrifice, devotion. And that’s why I love history. Stories, stories, stories. And yet sometimes from a distance those stories loose their sharpness. They become padded in layers of time, traditions and repetition until we only perceive a general form.
That’s why I wrote Sixty Acres and a Bride. In thinking about the story of Ruth, I wanted to imagine how she felt going to Boaz in the dark and putting her reputation at stake.
I set the story in Texas and placed Ruth and Boaz in the more recent past, which made their decisions seem more weighty. Putting the couple into an era that we’re familiar with made it easier to relate to their story.
So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that Kate Breslin had done something similar with the Biblical story of Esther. For Such a Time is set in Nazi-controlled Czechoslovakia. When Stella is unexpectedly snatched from a concentration camp she fears the worst. Why would a SS Kommandant move her to his private residence? There’s no answer that she can live with.
Aric von Schmidt, a decorated soldier, knows how to set his opinions and emotions aside for the glory of the Fatherland. He doesn’t enjoy the brutality that takes place in his camp, but people die. That’s what war is about. He’ll follow orders as long as he and his household are safe.
If you’re familiar with the story of Esther, you’re probably getting twitchy. King Xerxes wasn’t a Nazi. Nazis were the most evil people ever. They tried to commit genocide. They were brutal… Oh, yeah. Remember why Esther had to hide that she was a Jew? Do some of those details get lost in the glamour of the beauty pageant scene?
But that’s why I love For Such a Time. It takes the remote and puts it into a setting we’re more familiar with. The drama becomes fresh again, shocking us with the relationships Esther had to maintain, and the strength that was required of her.
Which brings me to my favorite part of For Such a Time. It’s a romance. The romance is difficult and complicated, yet Kate wrote it so well that I still understood why Stella and Aric needed each other. Stella’s love isn’t easy, but it’s true. And so is Aric’s fear that he’s being manipulated into ruining his career. The research and details that fill the pages give a strong sense of setting and keep the plot believable, and don’t be thinking you can predict the finale. For Such a Time keeps you reading way past bedtime.
So I highly recommend this book on its own merits. Plot, characters, setting, romance–every standard is met. But besides the enjoyment you’ll get from reading For Such a Time, you might just come away with a fresh understand of a heroine Queen whom you thought you knew inside out. And that’s the greatest reward of all.
Would you like to win a copy of For Such a Time? Comment below and I’ll randomly choose a winner on April 4th. Anyone can comment, but I’ll only choose from U.S. residents because of shipping fees. Thanks!