The Pharaoh's Daughter, by Mesu Andrews: Review
I've always been more of a fantasy kind of gal—not particularly inclined toward biblical fiction—but The Pharoah's Daughter has opened my eyes to the intricacy of this fascinating genre. Mesu Andrews' writing style is both eloquent and reachable, weaving a detailed picture of the ancient world in the time of the Hebrews' slavery in Egypt. As the author of a Moses-based biblical fantasy, you can bet I was mentally taking notes.
The protagonist, Anippe, is surprisingly accessible. An Egyptian princess and sister to the young King Tut, she is married off at fourteen years old to a warrior she has never met. Once I got over the culture-shock of this unfortunate circumstance (in case it needs to be said, the guy is probably more than twice her age), I found Anippe to be extremely sympathetic as a young girl thrust into adulthood overnight. Her intense fear of childbirth, stemming from her mother's untimely death, causes her to employ deception upon deception to protect herself at all costs. The downside? She's unable to produce an heir for her loving husband.
Many of Anippe's choices throughout the story are rooted in her fear of childbirth, and Mesu Andrews is skillful in remaining consistent without losing the empathy of the reader. Moses is a seamless addition to the story, not only grounding it in biblical truth, but revealing a maternal side of Anippe's character as she grows from girl to woman. I loved the inclusion of Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives found in Exodus, and thought Andrews' rendition of young Moses was absolutely fantastic. Most crucially, though, I appreciated Anippe as a sympathetic blend of kindness, selfishness, and fear.
Content Notes: I never knew where the story was going (excluding the more obvious biblical parallels), and was invested in the characters and plot from the beginning. Anippe shares the story with a Hebrew slave named Mered, whose wisdom and faith in El-Shaddai counters her shaky pagan belief in Egyptian gods and goddesses. Profanity is non-existent. Sexual relations between man and wife, in addition to the dangers faced by young Hebrew women, are candidly acknowledged, but not explicitly shown. Anippe, though a work of creative license, is a powerful example of God's love, sovereignty, and power to conquer fear.
This book has inspired me in my own Moses project and thoroughly engaged me from beginning to end. Though still a work of fiction, it is a well-researched and plausible take on a story left untold in the book of Exodus—a testament to the mercy and love God extends to all those that call upon His name.