Rebecca Kohn lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with her husband and daughter. The Gilded Chamber is is her first novel.
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 Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"The Gilded Chamber is a world unto itself and one well worth entering." --Margaret George, author of Mary, Called Magdalene"A triumph of historical imagination and a must-read for lovers--and lovers of Jewish history." --Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire "Fans of Orson Scott Card's Sarah and Anita Diamant's The Red Tent have a new author to follow in Kohn." --Library Journal "Evocatively and sensuously told." --Booklist "Evokes Anita Diamant's The Red Tent in style and Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha in setting." --The Jewish Journal