Author: Heather Kaufman
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Series: Women of the Way #1
Release Date: January 23, 2024
Publisher: Bethany House
"A biblical story with a heart for today's world, pulling out an array of joy and hope, sorrow and loss."--Mesu Andrews, award-winning author
"Taking us on an intriguing journey through heartbreak and healing, Heather Kaufman leads her readers directly to the joy of the empty tomb."--Connilyn Cossette, award-winning author
Martha of Bethany is no stranger to adversity. After her mother's untimely death, Martha shoulders the responsibility of raising her siblings--quiet and studious Lazarus, and wild and rambunctious Mary. She finds solace in friendship and the beginnings of first love, but just as Martha begins to imagine a new future, hardship strikes again and her dreams crumble into dust.
Ten years later, Martha's friend pleads for the new teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, to come and heal her husband. When Martha discovers that the carpenter-rabbi is connected to her past, she's not sure she can trust him with her future. But as he continues to perform miracles, the invitation to believe becomes harder to resist, renewing Martha's hardened heart, even as she faces an unknown future.
Reviewer: Marie Edwards
Kaufman is a new voice in Biblical fiction, and she takes on the story of Martha of Bethany in her debut book, which is also the first book in the Women of the Way series.
As many people know, Martha, Lazarus, and Mary are the most famous siblings in the Bible. From Martha being upset at Mary for being at the feet of Jesus to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, the siblings have a strong connection to Jesus.
The book starts with an older Martha in 65 AD (Anno Domini, the year of the Lord) looking back as she tells the story of Jesus to some children.
Kaufman then starts part one of the story with the birth of Martha’s younger sister, Mary, which also causes the death of her mother. “Beginnings and endings often collide, one with the other.” Words that seem quite poetic and yet sad.
Kaufman uses the Hebrew months of the calendar to tell the story. As in chapter one, it is 20 Tishri. Tishri is the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, roughly from September 5 to October 5 in the Gregorian calendar. As a result, this book would've greatly benefited from having a calendar reference for those unfamiliar with the Hebrew one. Also, a glossary of Hebrew terms would’ve been helpful too.
Kaufman then takes the reader on part one from the birth of Mary in 11 A.D. to 19 A.D.
The second part begins 10 years later, in 29 A.D., and covers Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead, ending several years later with Jesus’ death, which concludes Martha’s part in the Bible.
As with any Bible story, be it about fictional characters who lived in those times or actual people from the Bible, spoilers are inherent. However, it is the author’s words that bring these people to life, adding another depth and dimension to them. In Kaufman’s book, it was like stepping back in time to walk alongside Martha and her siblings.
The author admittedly took creative license with the first part of the story. Though it is difficult to tell a before story without all the details—how people met, what their lives were like, and what happened to them. Naturally, some things have to be made up. Like her, I too have often wondered about the stories of some people in the Bible. Martha’s story is only told in two books of the Bible: Luke and John.
Kaufman makes Martha’s story—even the fictional parts—believable, enjoyable, and worth delving further into the Bible.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Bethany House through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Jeanette Durkin
An extraordinary book that offers the background of Martha, Lazarus, and Mary. Wow! The story of these siblings has always fascinated me, and Heather Kaufman brings Biblical history to life! The story is unique and interesting.
I love Martha. I enjoyed the way she was portrayed in this book. The elder sister is competent, hardworking, and longing for love. I liked the interaction between the siblings. There's love, some jealousy, and inclusiveness in their relationship.
The glimpses of Jesus and his ministry are wonderful! I especially liked the part where Mary anoints his head and feet with perfume. It's a holy moment that is imprinted on my heart. Another favorite part was the time when Lazarus rose from the dead. Such a celebratory time!
This book awakened me to want to not only read scripture but also let it touch my heart. Heather Kaufman is a new author to me, but she is now a favorite. I look forward to reading more of her books.
I was provided a copy of the book from Bethany House through Interviews & Reviews. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Katelyn Sponaugle
I was utterly captivated before I even finished the prologue of Up From Dust. It was evident from the opening lines that Heather Kaufman is a masterful storyteller who has a beautiful way with words. Even so, she far exceeded my expectations, as she masterfully and eloquently brought to life both well-known and obscure characters from this portion of biblical history.
The story brims with all the poignancy of love and loss, sorrow and hope, and I shed many tears with the reading. I’ve read many biblical/historical fiction books that touched my heart in a special way, but I don’t believe I’ve read one that moved me so deeply. Even now, days after finishing, I find myself tearing up as I reflect on it. On Christ, the difference he makes in every heart, in every life, in every relationship. This book has given me a refreshed look at my Savior and his Word, and I’m thankful to have read it.
Up From Dust was the perfect complement to the Christmas season—watching Martha realize that Immanuel, God with us, had come in her time.
I can’t possibly do the book justice in a review. Excellent backstory, well-developed and relatable characters, beautiful writing, and moving. It checks all the boxes. If you’re still reading reviews, stop wasting your time and read the book instead. You’ll be glad you did.
This book was provided courtesy of Bethany House Publishers through Interviews & Reviews, for my honest opinion, which was a pleasure to give.
Reviewer: Raechel Helwig
I love trying new Biblical fiction and wasn't disappointed with Up From Dust by Heather Kaufman. It tells Martha's story from the New Testament, and it was written very well.
My favorite part about this novel was how it was easy to connect to the characters and their lives, and thus Jesus' character was displayed in the story too.
I honestly cried a couple different times while reading and kind of put off finishing it because I knew Jesus' crucifixion was coming, and I wasn't sure I was ready to experience that in the novel yet. Even though I know how that ends. It's funny how books can do that, isn't it? Create deep feelings in the reader. I always appreciate that, and I feel like it adds another special layer to the reading experience.
I also loved how Martha grew and changed in the story, and how her relationship with Mary grew too. I know that everyone interprets the Biblical characters differently, and so I appreciate reading across this genre to see everyone's interpretations, whether they exactly match mine or not.
Biblical fiction is a great way to further understand and contemplate the true Biblical accounts and to think more about what life was like then, and I also really liked how the author stated that in her note at the end. All in all, it was a moving novel that I most certainly enjoyed.
This book was provided courtesy of Bethany House through Interviews and Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Emily Stephens
I've always really empathized with the biblical character of Martha. She and her family only get a couple of fairly minor mentions in the Bible itself, and she doesn't tend to come off well, especially with the whole "criticizing her sister for not helping" story.
That's why I was so excited to read this biblical fiction account focused on Martha as the main character. I enjoyed seeing how the author brought her to life and gave her a personality, feelings, and motivations beyond petty jealousy. I felt that she really came alive as a three-dimensional character and was the perfect heroine to carry this narrative to completion.
The author obviously did plenty of research through historical records, as her descriptions of everything from homes to food to clothing to customs were very detailed and realistic. I liked learning more about everyday life during this time as I followed Martha's story.
When I went to look up the author's other books, I was thrilled to learn that this is the first in her new Women of the Way series. I'm looking forward to seeing which historical figure will be featured in the next book!
I received a review copy courtesy of Bethany House Publishers through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Heather Kaufman's debut novel with Bethany House has put her on my list as a new favourite author. Up From Dust answers all the right "what if" questions that surround the relationship between Jesus, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. And it adds a side story that brings a little more intrigue to keep you reading.
This first book in the Women of the Way series centres on Martha and answers all the questions as to why she might have been so focused on Mary not helping her prepare a meal when Jesus came to visit. You can read about this little interaction in Luke 10:38–42.
I loved the backstory of Martha and her family. It just made her frustration with Mary all the more believable. And it made Jesus' response to her frustration understandable. The love interest between Martha and Uri was a brilliant idea and tied in with so many of the lessons Martha needed as she grew in her faith and understanding of who Jesus was.
If you like biblical fiction, you need to add this one to your shelf! It brings the Bible to life with incredible storytelling and impeccable research. I can't recommend it enough!
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Bethany House through NetGalley for my honest review.
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