Book Review: The Gilded Chamber: A Novel of Queen Esther by Rebecca Kohn

October 8, 2010

I borrowed this book from the local library.

Book Review The Gilded Chamber A Novel of Queen Esther by Rebecca Kohn

My rating for The Gilded Chamber4

The Gilded Chamber: A Novel of Queen Esther” by Rebecca Kohn is a familiar story, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan, is being brought to the court of King Xerxes as a possible queen. Hiding her Jewish origins she changes her name to Esther, becomes queen and saves the Jews from certain death (now…let’s eat).

Buy “The Gilded Chamber” and get a royal treat

The book itself is very inventive biblical fiction, I must give the author credit and I really enjoyed the first part of the book. However, for me the book took a wrong turn by not sticking with the biblical timeline and taking too many liberties with the “fiction” part of biblical fiction. Part of my enjoyment reading fiction is that I learn something along the way, if I have to pick apart what’s accurate and what’s not it takes away from the experience.

The female characters are drawn very nicely, but the males seemed to be a bit flat and uninteresting. That’s too bad because Xerxes, Mordechai and Haman are fascinating cultural, historical and biblical characters by their own right.

This is not a criticism, just an observation.

Another issue is consistency. The king is depicted as a raging drunk in one scene, and as a benevolent monarch in another and from some reason Esther’s portrayal changes towards the end of the book. However, these might be just me nitpicking because I really like the Book of Esther.

Overall I liked “The Gilded Chamber” . It was engaging, entertaining and doesn’t sugar-coat (too much) the harsh life women had (even royalty).

Buy “The Gilded Chamber” and get a royal treat

Zohar – Man of La Book
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  • Arleigh October 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I read this one several years ago and enjoyed it, though I am was not familiar with the original story in the Bible. This is one of the first historical novels I read and was surprised at the way the women were depicted in the harem–and the eunuchs. It was a whole new world to me.

    • zohar October 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      Arleigh, thanks for the comment. I had a feeling this book toed the line between historical fiction and fictional stories which take place in the past. I agree with you, the parts in the harem were fascinating.

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