Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (2 points)
Angela Hunt’s latest work, Daughter of Cana, is the first installment in her new Jerusalem Road series. The novel gives a nice overview of Jesus’s life and ministry from the perspective of Jesus’s brother Jude and Thomas’s fictional sister Tasmin, but fails to offer any groundbreaking or original content. The opening chapters of Daughter of Cana introduce us to Tasmin, who Hunt presents as the disciple Thomas’s twin sister. Tasmin and Thomas live at home with their widowed father and run a wedding party business in Cana. Tasmin has never been interested in marriage and views it as a frivolity, instead preferring to keep busy and act responsible. Thomas enjoys socializing and taking time to relax, and though he is practical, Tasmin feels that he does not take their business seriously. One day while the siblings are hosting a wedding for a friend, Jesus and His mother and siblings suddenly arrive as guests. Thomas is immediately enthralled with Jesus, but Tasmin has heard rumors that He is a radical preacher who shouldn’t be trusted. When Jesus saves the bride and groom’s reputation by turning water into wine, Tasmin is even more confused about Him. Her confusion turns to anger when Thomas agrees to become Jesus’s disciple and leaves suddenly for an extended period of time. Tasmin decides to go after her brother, and departs with Jesus’s brother Jude on a cross-country journey to bring Thomas home. As previously mentioned, the plot and storyline in this novel give us a brief overview of Jesus’s entire adult life and ministry, and detail Tasmin’s journey to find Thomas, and ultimately, her life purpose. The strengths of the storyline include that it moves along at a steady pace, covers a lot of time without being choppy, and gives the reader a glimpse of someone who did not believe in Jesus until after His death. In comparison, the weaknesses are minor, but do pull down the overall quality. First, the novel does not hold the reader’s attention very well, and has a very simplistic, humdrum writing style. This is very unlike Hunt’s past writing style. Second, the storyline tends to plow forward in an attempt to cover all the high points in the Gospels and brushes over character development and depth. Finally, there is not really a personalized spiritual connection for Christian readers – the novel is primarily marketed towards people who are not familiar with the Gospels. In summary, there are no major errors in Daughter of Cana, but there is also no memorable content. For this, Hunt receives an average score for her plot and storyline.
Character Development (2 points)
In comparison, Tasmin is a fairly good protagonist who responds in relatable ways to life’s challenges and has a partially defined personality. Her flashbacks are also a great addition to the story, but needed further exploration. Jude is also a fairly good character who is understandably skeptical that his brother is the Messiah, (spoiler) but aside from loving Tasmin, what is his overarching purpose? Much the same, the reader has no emotional connection to Tasmin or any of the secondary characters. This makes everyone feel a bit like a shell of what they could have been. Unfortunately, this concept also applies to Hunt’s depiction of Jesus, who feels more like a nice concept than the Risen Christ. In contrast, Hunt did well to use first-person for both Tasmin and Jude, and included some interesting minor characters. However, because the strengths and weaknesses are equal in this category, Hunt receives an average score here as well.
Creativity & Originality (1 point)
In conclusion, Hunt earns a full point in originality for creating two characters who did not fully embrace Jesus at first, but avoid becoming strawmen. We really appreciated that Hunt portrayed her two main characters as having realistic doubts and honest concerns about how following Jesus would alter their lives. If only more authors would catch on to this concept. Unfortunately, there is nothing especially creative about Hunt’s portrayal of Jesus’s life and ministry, so we leave it up to filmmakers as to whether or not they want to bring this book to the big screen. The book would need several additions, such as bringing Tasmin’s flashbacks to the forefront of the story, but it could be done right in the right hands.
Wish List Rating: 5 out of 10 points