I am hard at work on my latest book in THE SILENT YEARS series. As you probably know, I place GREAT importance on the first sentence and first scene in a novel, and I would like to run this one by you.
I need to know if:
*would you keep reading?
*does it raise questions in your mind?
*do you get a sense of the time and place? and lastly,
*do you like the woman whose POV you’re in?
Please leave comments below or on the FB page. 🙂 Thanks!
First scene (tentatively) of JERUSALEM’S QUEEN:
They are all here, gathered like vultures around my bed, watching with long faces and bending near to listen for my breathing. Hyrcanus studies me with wet eyes; Aristobulus licks his lips, then hurries away to work his mischief. His wife, the one I have never liked, smiles and takes his place at my bedside.
HaShem, can I not stay a little longer? My sons are not at peace with each other.
I close my eyes and the room goes silent. When I open them again, the daughter-in-law at my side frowns.
Such beloved faces! Here is Simeon ben Shetah, who takes my hand and pronounces a blessing on my head. There is Honi the Circle-Drawer, who pushes his way past stubborn Simeon to see me. I try to smile at him, but my lips do not respond as I would like.
I hear music, the distant sound of timbrels and trumpets. The faces around me soften in a hazy glow, and my dear ones are replaced by faces from long ago—my father! My sister, now a woman grown and as beautiful as I remembered. My mother, who smiles at me with pleased surprise. And Uncle, standing erect, his hands folded, a look of pride on his face. I see Alena and Josu Attis and—
I blink at the sound of Kissa’s voice. My eyelids flutter, and with an effort, I focus on the oval face hovering near mine.
“Honi Ha-Meaggel would like to pray with you.”
I nod, or try to, and as the Circle-Drawer reads, the beloved words transport me above the bed, the room, and the mourners:
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains—
from where does my help come?
My help comes from Adonai,
Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip.
Your Keeper will not slumber.
Behold, the Keeper of Israel
neither slumbers nor sleeps . . .
I look down, for I am above the palace courtyard, which has filled with my people, many of whom are weeping. The air vibrates with the high ululations of mourners. Men and women are beating their breasts, asking HaShem to bless my journey . . . as I have blessed Israel.
Their words bring a smile to my face and relief to my soul. Thanks be to HaShem, He listened to the prayer of a fatherless girl and granted her most earnest desire.
For I never intended to be a queen.