Cover image for The gilded chamber : a novel of Queen Esther
The gilded chamber : a novel of Queen Esther
Kohn, Rebecca.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : RuggedLand, [2004]

Physical Description:
353 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes "Reading Group Guide" ([3] p.).
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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In the Bestselling tradition of The Red Tent , a dazzling novel of the extraordinary biblical heroine who ascended to the position of queen and sacrificed love in exchange for the lives of her people.

The story of Esther-- whose mesmerizing beauty was matched only by her clear-eyed wisdom-- has inspired women for centuries. Now her suspenseful tale comes to life through the eyes of a contemporary woman, debut novelist Rebecca Kohn. Capturing the passionate longings and political danger that have made Esther's legacy so timeless, The Gilded Chamber blends meticulous research with gripping storytelling to transport us to an ancient time in the far-flung Persian Empire.
Orphaned and terrified, Esther journeys across the River Tigris to start a new life with her cousin-- a man well positioned in the court, and to whom she is betrothed. Her transformation from girl to woman unfolds against a lavish backdrop of the royal court and harem, rife with intrigue and daring alliances. Esther wins much of what she seeks: the heart of a king, and the deliverance of her people. But her rise to the role of queen is not without a price; she must turn her back on all that she ever wanted, and give her body to a man she can never love.
In a haunting, unflinching voice, The Gilded Chamber illuminates an epic dilemma between the yearnings of a woman's heart and the obligations imposed on her by fate. In Esther's case, choice makes history-- and unforgettable reading

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

With the success of The Red Tent 0 (1997), the women of the Bible became fair game for writers of historical fiction. This novel about Esther is grounded in its biblical source material even as it twists a tale all its own.Esther's story is evocatively and sensuously told . 0 Adhering closely in outline to the biblical book of Esther, the basis for theewish holiday of Purim, first-novelistohn embellishes the material with plenty of erotic detail from Esther's life in the chamber of concubines, where she awaits her moment to be deflowered bying Xerxes. This seems like a well-crafted embellishment of a familiar story.ohn makes the most of the inherent drama and romance in the Esther saga: a young woman sacrificing herself to save her people, complete with plenty of palace intrigue and decadence. There's a little bit of every genre here, from suspense to adventure to romance to women's fiction. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this measured, eloquent retelling of Jewish heroine Esther's rise from orphanhood to queen of the Persian empire, Kohn brings psychological nuance and stately elegance to the ancient biblical tale that is the basis for the Jewish holiday of Purim. Narrating in the first person, Esther (born Hadassah) tells how she is forcibly taken from her home to the royal harem of King Xerxes in Babylon. Her uncle Mordechai, a high-ranking treasury official in the king's service, warns her, "Do not reveal your people or your kindred.... Let yourself be known only as Esther, foster daughter of Marduka the Babylonian." The novel is by and large faithful to the biblical account and often quotes from it verbatim. Yet Kohn deftly fills the gaps and resolves the ambiguities in the Book of Esther with creative storytelling and historical research. As Esther recognizes her strengths and responsibilities and learns the ways of the palace, so do we; the oppressive closeness of the harem ("the lingering odors of perfume, food, and lamp oil"), the pervasive abuse, the fragile alliances and deadly schemes all come to life. Kohn's Esther has a will of steel and knows how to manipulate lusty, impetuous Xerxes, but she longs for a simpler life. Her sacrifices are finally rewarded when the king's trusted courtier Haman issues a decree ordering the slaughter of the Jews, and Esther is in a position to be able to save her people. Though the novel's pace slows at times, Kohn paints a convincing, complex picture of Esther, and her descriptions of the palace and its secrets will hold readers spellbound. Agent, Esther Sung. Author tour. (Apr. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In her debut novel, Kohn has rediscovered one of the best-loved women of the Old Testament. According to that book, Esther was orphaned at the age of ten and sent to live with her cousin and betrothed, Mordechai, a treasury official in the Babylonian court of Xerxes. Later abducted and brought to court as a concubine to the king, Esther became a favorite and then a queen-but with much politicking and heartbreak. Kohn's Esther is similar to the one in the Bible: a woman of great beauty, passion, loyalty, and courage who manages to save the Jews from extermination. Without sacrificing any of the biblical story's narrative, the author has fleshed out a world where intrigue, power, politics, and sensuality rule the day. Fans of Orson Scott Card's Sarah and Anita Diamant's The Red Tent have a new author to follow in Kohn.-Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.