Bread of An­gels

Tessa Af­shar

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction -

Tyn­dale Soft­cover $14.99 (400pp) 978-1-4964-0647-7

With its re­source­ful, re­silient hero­ine and vi­brant nar­ra­tive, Bread of An­gels of­fers an en­gross­ing new look at a mys­te­ri­ous woman of faith.

Tessa Af­shar’s Bread of An­gels broad­ens the bi­b­li­cal ac­count of Ly­dia into a novel of love, be­trayal, de­ter­mi­na­tion, and the power of faith.

Ly­dia, spo­ken of in Acts 16, is re­counted as the Apos­tle Paul’s first Euro­pean con­vert to Chris­tian­ity, as well as be­ing a seller of pur­ple cloth. Her jour­ney to even­tu­ally be­ing bap­tized by Paul is one of set­backs and ul­ti­mate tri­umph, most no­tably her hard-earned suc­cess as a fe­male mer­chant dur­ing the Ro­man Em­pire.

Though rich with de­tail, Bread of An­gels does not be­come weighed down by its his­tor­i­cal breadth. When the novel be­gins, Ly­dia is in her late teens, an in­dus­tri­ous young woman de­voted to her fa­ther and to run­ning a work­shop that pro­duces beau­ti­fully dyed cloth. Orig­i­nally from Thy­atira, Ly­dia’s fa­ther Eumenes has in­vented a method of dye­ing fab­ric so that it be­comes re­splen­dently and en­dur­ingly pur­ple. Pur­ple, a color of roy­alty and pres­tige, is highly sought af­ter at the time—as are Eumenes’s cov­eted se­cret dye for­mu­las.

Af­ter her fa­ther’s death and the loss of their busi­ness to schem­ing Ro­mans, Ly­dia feels that the gods she grew up with––deities of Greek mythol­ogy—have failed her. Heart­bro­ken and wrong­fully dis­graced, she trav­els to Philippi in Mace­do­nia, de­ter­mined to suc­ceed as a cloth mer­chant on her own.

Another young woman, a Jew named Re­bekah, ac­com­pa­nies Ly­dia on her new adventure. Re­bekah’s faith and spirit are al­most lu­mi­nous, and though she too has been through many tri­als in her short life, she ad­vises Ly­dia to pray to the true God and watch how the sus­tain­ing “bread of an­gels” will al­ways ap­pear in some form, even when all seems lost.

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