If you’re on Goodreads, you might have noticed my reading binge this weekend. I started a new book, Healer of Carthage by Lynne Gentry, that I was only able to put down through the first quarter. Once I hit the 30% mark there was no more book-closing. Yikes! At least not until 4:28 AM when I finally finished the story.
I have to tell you, Lynne Gentry is one of the most masterful wordsmiths that I know. And I’ve waited for this project to come into book form since I started my writing career about 2 1/2 years ago when I joined Lynne’s critique group. She has a way of writing that immerses the reader into the story world, and her characters are intense on many levels.
I think Lynne’s forte is her voice. In both the setting and peopling of her story, she has a way of imparting information without dealing out a dump of information. I got the feel of a Ancient Roman slave block through the dialog beats and an extra sentence here and there. The sights, smells, and sounds of the marketplace peopled with unfortunate captives and the dregs of society came to life in my mind.
From the beginning, heroine Lisbeth displayed strengths and weaknesses, becoming a realistic character. With an archetypal cross between a Nurturer and a Crusader, Lisbeth often responds without thinking when acts of injustice occur. And this story is full of those! The hero, Cyprian, more resembles a Roman god than a human being, and yet his attitude and spiritual immaturity make him more of a normal man, despite his appearance.
The unique element of the story is it’s genre – actually that should be plural. What begins with the feel of a Contemporary Women’s fiction plunges into a Speculative time travel story, then finds a perch firmly in the past (215AD) like a Historical with intense Romance. But even though The Healer of Carthage doesn’t fit into a genre box, the story is exceptionally written.
I will tell you, this is NOT the type of Christian fiction that I normally read and love. It’s an Epic of the same caliber of movies like The Robe, Ben Hur, and The Ten Commandments, and not at all like the light, funny romances or romantic suspenses I usually review. This is also not a book I will share with my daughters. Nothing of the filthy, pagan city of Carthage is withheld. Not the cruelty of the arena, the squaller and poverty of the working class, or the preoccupation with beauty and nudity. Some bedroom scenes are lightly described, though not in depth, but disrobing is included.
I won’t say that the scenes didn’t bother me. There’s a reason why I prefer to read and write on the lighter side. But I knew about the tone of the book going in and chose to read it still. And I’m glad I did! It’s truly one of the most well-written books I’ve experienced. If the subject matter won’t offend, I highly recommend The Healer of Carthage and eagerly await the next episode!
First-year resident Dr. Lisbeth Hastings is too busy to take her father’s bizarre summons seriously. But when a tragic mistake puts her career in jeopardy, answering her father’s call seems her only hope of redeeming the devastating failure that her life has become.
While exploring the haunting cave at her father’s archaeological dig, Lisbeth falls through a hidden hole, awakening to find herself the object of a slave auction and the ruins of Roman Carthage inexplicably restored to a thriving metropolis. Is it possible that she’s traveled back in time, and, if so, how can she find her way back home?
Cyprian Thascius believes God called him to rescue the mysterious woman from the slave trader’s cell. What he doesn’t understand is why saving the church of his newfound faith requires him to love a woman whose peculiar ways could get him killed. But who is he to question God?
As their different worlds collide, it sparks an intense attraction that unites Lisbeth and Cyprian in a battle against a deadly epidemic. Even as they confront persecution, uncover buried secrets, and ignite the beginnings of a medical revolution, Roman wrath threatens to separate them forever. Can they find their way to each other through all these obstacles? Or are the eighteen hundred years between them too far of a leap?
Your Turn: What was the last historical story your enjoyed?