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The handmaid and the carpenter : a novel
Elizabeth Berg
Adult Fiction BERG

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Berg's sweetly understated dramatization of the Nativity story casts Mary and Joseph as provincial teenagers who try to honor family tradition in spite of challenging circumstances. Alternating between the voices of the holy couple, Berg relates a romance that blossoms at the wedding of relatives between the 16-year-old carpenter from Nazareth and the comely 13-year-old girl originally from Sepphoris. Mary, dreamy and intractable, already entertains notions of miraculous circumstances surrounding her own birth to her barren mother, Anne. Joseph is instantly smitten and engenders the trust of both families for a betrothal, yet Mary holds back, cherishing a sense of greater destiny. Escaping a near rape by a Greek man by the river, Mary then receives the angel's message that she will bear an extraordinary son, despite never having known a man; the sadly unwed Mary must return to Joseph, who repudiates her until he, too, is visited in a dream by an angel directing him on the honorable course. With Herod's decree that everyone return to their hometowns to register for the census, Joseph and the near-term Mary set off on their arduous and momentous journey to Bethlehem. Berg handles the gospel passages with a tender reverence. (On sale Nov. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Berg's retelling of the biblical story of Mary and Joseph begins with their courtship in ancient Nazareth. Mary is a bold, headstrong young woman, Joseph a teenaged son of privilege. They are betrothed and must wait one year for a wedding day. When Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel and told she will give birth to a son, Joseph is hurt and angry. He is soon also visited by an angel and puts his faith to the test, accepting Mary as his wife. Narrating this familar tale with an almost detached historical viewpoint, Berg ends her brief novel with Joseph remaining doubtful even years later. For all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/06.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Joseph
Age: 16
In love with Mary; pushes for betrothal to Mary.

Age: 13
Dreamy; miraculously born to a barren mother; hoping for a greater destiny than marrying a carpenter; receives a message that she will bear an extraordinary son; goes to Joseph for help.

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