77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2009
After waiting forever for this book to be released, what do I see but a one star review. Having read ninty percent of Oke's books and all of Oke and Bunn's co-written books, and never being disppointed in their work, what to do? Since I'd never heard of the reviewer, and the authors have sold many million copies of their books, I bought the book. Once again I was not disappointed. This is the first in a series, and did not capture me as the "Song of Acadia" series, or the "Heirs of Acadia" series. But it was a good read full of interesting facts of early Christian era life
and customs. I'm looking forward to book two, Leah and Alban are compelling characters,their future together as followers of Jesus should be facinating. People of faith and bible students should enjoy this book.
74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2008
I'm not sure what the other reviewers problem with this book is. Having said that, I haven't read anything else from these authors and am coming to this story with fresh eyes. While some of the narrative drags, I found that the story idea so compelling (a mystery where you already know the ending, but the journey is so interesting) that I kept turning the pages. I loved the idea of the authors deciding to expand on the backstory of the Roman whose servant was healed by Jesus. I thought it was a great read and look forward to seeing more in this series.
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2009
Janette Oke & Davis Bunn have wrote yet another wonderful read! Much like the Song of Acadia series, I had trouble putting the book down. Despite several interruptions I was able to read The Centurion's Wife in two days. My only let down is waiting for book 2 to come out or for a glimpse of what is it to come. What a shame I can read faster than they can write such great books. I was enlightened by this book & long to read more. I won't give away any of the story, but rather say read it for your self. You will come away with a greater knowledge and long to learn more. I never thought of the details after the resurrection in this light and found it very helpful. You go much deeper than scripture, you see everyday life and the new struggles that arise. To think of the great faith and trust needed in that day. Today we lack the threat of death and true faith and trust in God. Why is it we don't trust any more?
To the nonbeliever this book is the stating point. To the new Christian it is enlightening. To the seasoned Christian it is thought provoking and will make you ashamed at your lack of faith and trust. Oh for more books like this...books with a real meaning and purpose. Thanks for causing me to stop and really think.
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2009
I have read one prior work by T. Davis Bunn and one by Janette Oke. That was many years ago and, since I didn't consider either of them particularly good writers, I have never read another book by either one. So when I bought The Centurion's Wife, I didn't have particularly high expectations -- I didn't think their joint effort would be any better than their solo books. But I gave it a try, since I am always searching for new Christian authors who really know how to write.
And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised -- the book was better than I expected it to be. The plot was predictable from the start and didn't contain any surprises, and, although other reviewers have commented on the "mystery" element of the book, I really don't know what they're talking about; I didn't find one bit of mystery in this book. But in spite of this, the fact that the writing was well done kept the book interesting and readable. The characters and the dialog were well done, the scenes and plot transitioned well, and they did a good job of depicting the time and place and weaving in historical detail.
There were, however, some aspects of the book that didn't make sense to me. The first -- which several other reviewers have also mentioned -- was the whole premise of Alban getting married. It has always been my understanding that ancient Roman soldiers weren't allowed to marry.
The second was that the characters continually drank tea. Perhaps I am wrong -- and I would like someone to comment here if I am -- but I'm quite sure that 2,000 years ago tea was unknown outside of China and the Far East. People in first century Judea would have drank water, wine, juices extracted from whatever fruits were available to them (grapes, pomegranates, etc.) and various combinations of these three. This may sound like a minor thing, but actually I found the tea issue very distracting. Every time it happened my concentration was broken because I would think to myself, "that's not right!"
My third and most serious complaint about this book, was Alban's and Jacob's attitude towards Jesus. Bunn and Oke depict Alban as the centurion mentioned in the Bible whose servant was healed by Jesus, and who Jesus commended for his great faith. And yet, through the entire book until the very end both he and Jacob are ambivalent towards Jesus. They seem to regard Jacob's healing as just some minor thing that happened, and they've almost forgotten about it. I really don't believe that's how it was; Jesus, who could see into the hearts and minds of all, wouldn't have commended the centurion for his great faith if he hadn't indeed been a man of great faith who believed in Jesus' miraculous healing power. And such a man wouldn't have brushed off this miracle as just a passing incident.
This third issue I consider a serious enough flaw that it caused me to give the book 3 stars rather than 4. However, the book still managed to pass my bookshelf test (I am keeping it on my bookshelf rather than donating it to Goodwill) and I plan to buy the next book in the series.
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2010
"The Centurion's Wife" by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke the first in the "Acts of Faith" series by these authors.
"The Centurion's Wife" is the story of Leah, a distantly Jewish servant in Pilate's household at the time of Christ's death, and Alban, a Roman Centurion. Alban and Leah end up in an arrangement to be married after Alban fulfills a duty to Pilate to find out what happened to Jesus' body after his death and resurrection. The narrative is told from Leah's point of view as well as Alban's and spans the several weeks in Jerusalem and the surrounding area after Christ's resurrection. It involves both characters' course to finding out what they believe about this man Jesus.
I have never read a historical fiction book that is based on a biblical account, so this is a first for me. And based on this book, it might be my last. Since the main character was not portrayed as I thought he should be portrayed based on the Bible, then the story was not "real" to me. Alban is supposed to be the centurion mentioned in the Bible in Matthew 8 and Luke 7. In the biblical account, Jesus heals a centurion's servant (from afar...without going to the servant), and then Jesus commends the centurion for having great faith. Because of the way this book portrays this account, I did not really enjoy the book. When this miracle happens to Alban and his servant, Alban doesn't really even know who Jesus is. He is not portrayed as having any faith in Christ or even God at all. The rest of the book is his search to find out who Jesus was, but I think anyone who Jesus commended for having such great faith would have already believed in Him. I understand that historical fiction is, in fact, fiction, but if the authors are going to base a book on history, then I think they should at least get the history right. For example, I wouldn't enjoy reading a historical fiction book based on the American Revolution and in that book read that the British won! The same thing seems to be happening in "The Centurion's Wife."
Another thing that bothered me was that everyone in the book drank tea. Tea? Did they drink tea in the Bible? I don't know. It is not mentioned in the Bible, but maybe they did. I do know that wine was mentioned in the Bible, and I thought that was what they would drink in this book. It is not a big thing...it is just something that bothered me every time I read it! I guess the authors were trying to make the book "cleaner," as in not putting alcohol in the book, but come on. It just didn't seem realistic to me.
I have to say also that I thought this book was just boring. After getting into the beginning and getting to know the characters, I was bored until over halfway through the book. Maybe it's just me, but I almost fell asleep several times while reading this book, and I rarely do that!
One thing I did like about this book was that it made me think about what it would have been like to actually know Jesus on earth. Mary Magdalene, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are minor characters in this book, and it was remarkable to ponder how it would have felt to actually see and hear Christ during his time here.
If you enjoy Christian historical fiction from the time of Christ, you might enjoy this book. You can enjoy the story in this book if you like this genre. I just couldn't get into it because of the poor portrayal of the biblical account.
I am disappointed that this book is from Janette Oke. Maybe it is more "Davis Bunn" than "Janette Oke" and that is why I didn't enjoy it.
"The Centurion's Wife" by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke was sent to me as a complimentary review copy by Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2012
As a person who is fairly literate about worldly religions, I found this book to be too simple to inspire or impart new knowledge.
I do give kudos to the authors for the following; using Pilate and his wife Procula, along with an invented centurion and part Jewish slave girl as central characters, which was a brilliant seed for the story, but the seed failed to grow to its full potential...and...Mary Magdalene was not improperly protrayed as a harlot, and was recognized for her devotion to Jesus.
Though they mentioned a rabbi was helpful in the writing of the book, unfortunately, the rabbi nor the authors are not familiar with the basic anthropological history of Judaea.
One glaring example was the constant mentioning and serving of tea...tea was unknown to that area until at least the 9th century AD. This book was a 33 AD historical fiction. I found this amusing because at the time of Jesus, the drink of choice was wine. People did not offer tea for refreshment, only wine or water drawn from a deep well. There was a very good reason for this, most of the ground water was tainted because of 1st century pollution, thus pushing the populace toward fermented and boiled drinks...which did not include tea. There are many Christians who refuse to believe that wine was an everyday part of life at that time, because they think the drinking of fermented drinks is a sin.
Then, the mention of the coin called the "farthing". The farthing was not minted until the 13th century, in England. Hello?
Then, once again, I remind people, as I remind myself, spell check does not replace the sharp eye of a human editor. ;)
I will read their second book and see if they improve.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I've been reading Janette Oke since I was a kid and was really excited to receive this book from the [...] Early Reviewer giveaway. I love this time period, and felt like this book should have been a lot better than it ended up being.
I loved Alban His characterization seemed spot on with what I have learned in my history classes. I felt much more connected to him than I did Leah.
Leah's characterization made me hate her throughout the book. She did not ring true to a proper Roman lady, no matter what her circumstances. A high born Roman lady, especially in this time, would have known her place and not complained so bitterly about an arranged marriage. There were rarely any love matches made, as marriage was seen as a way to build alliances between the power players of the time. Her constant harping on her sister's (and her) situation made me question just how much time Oke spent researching her background materials when she set about writing her portions of the novel.
Overall, this lack of forethought in regards to Leah made me want the book to be over much more quickly than it was. What was a good premise was ruined by the obvious lack of historical research.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2009
This book is well researched with a fresh perspective. It takes characters that we see a hint of in the Bible and brings them to life. This books inspired me to both laugh and cry. If you like Francine Rivers' historical fiction, this is a great book to pick up. I think this series will be brilliant and look forward to reading the next book in the series.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2009
I absolutely loved this book. Maybe all the historical facts don't line up, but then I'm not reading a history book. I'm reading a Christian romance novel that happens to have an historical setting. I was inspired by the intense desire of Alban and Leah to seek the truth about the Jesus that was crucified. Isn't that what God calls us all to do? I was moved by their growth in character through the book and by the blossoming of their feelings toward each other. Alban changed from seeking status by this marriage to Pilate's niece to simply wanting to follow Jesus and love Leah. Leah overcame her fear of marriage by learning to have faith in Jesus and trusting in Alban's love. I read the church library copy and have ordered my own. This was a great book.
As for the authors, I've read most of Bunn's books and loved just about all of them. I haven't read Janette Oke because I don't care that much for historical. The Centurian's Wife was an exception. And an exceptional book.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2009
Don't let the beautiful cover entice you into reading this book with high expectations. While it is a worth-while read if you are interested in the events surrounding Jesus's death, you should know a few things before you start reading.
This is a good book to read if you want to have a bit more insight into other events that occurred during the time after Jesus was crucified and before we went back to Heaven. You never "meet" Jesus or any of the disciples in this book, but Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, and Pilate and his wife are present in the story.
It's a sort of slow story and definitely deals a lot more with the setting and politics of Jesus's death. The main character doesn't become the Centurion's wife until the end of the book. And a lot of the story plots and events were sort of forced...none of the characters were very appealing, and I think that the author didn't portray Pilate very well.
Overall, it's a good book to read if you want to have more insight into Jerusalem and simply the everyday lives of Jews there. I also thought it was interesting to read the story of Jesus's death from the point of views of the Romans.