Tommy Tenney & Mark Andrew Olsen





Bethany House
Reviewed by Susan Conatser

HADASSAH is Tommy Tenney's fictionalized novel of the story of Queen Esther from the Old Testament. The tale opens with a present day scene in which Hadassah Kesselman, a young Jewish woman just days away from her wedding, is taken to view private ancestral documents stored in The Israel Museum at the Shrine of the Book. These ancient documents include a private journal written by Queen Esther to her descendants, and according to tradition each generation enters their name into the archives and receives a copy prior to their marriage.

Hadassah, the Jewish name of Queen Esther, becomes an orphan when her parents are killed by Amalekite warriors. Her cousin, Mordecai, a scribe in the King's court, becomes her guardian. Because of the hostile feelings towards the Hebrews, Mordecai keeps Hadassah hidden until one day she persuades him to allow her to attend a court celebration dressed as a boy. Hadassah is awed by the splendor of the royal court and watches as King Xerxes orders his Queen to model nude before the onlookers. When Queen Vashti refuses, she is banished and later killed. Soon Hadassah is caught in a campaign to round up young virgins for the King. Esther's year long preparation for her one night with the King requires all her courage and wisdom. With the fate of thousands of lives in her hands she steps center stage in a drama that will change the course of history for her people.

HADASSAH: ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING is cleverly written as part memoir and part suspense tale. Tenney and Olsen gracefully choreograph Esther's story in a way that is disarmingly beautiful. The portrayal of Esther's preparation for her tryst with the King explores metaphors of spiritual insights that are powerful and moving. Using creative license, these authors have made all the characters and their motivations come to dramatic life. The modern day introduction and the personal approach to Esther's life is a delightful device that draws the reader into this ancient story. It's an artfully told tale by a new voice in inspirational fiction.

Mr. Tenney's website reports that he is currently in preproduction on a movie based on HADDASSAH, produced in connection with Gener8Xion. It's projected for release in the spring of 2005.

March 2004


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