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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In the 1st century AD, Elizabeth, a widow, lives with her master Samuel who has recently lost his wife, Naomi. Elizabeth is happy with her existence until the day she is asked to prepare the guest room for a visitor. When the visitor arrives, all the pain and rejection Elizabeth has tried to overcome over many years come flooding back. The visitor is none other than Simon, the man who rejected her father's offer of a betrothal and fled to Egypt. Elizabeth was, instead, betrothed to Simon's uncaring brother, forcing her into a loveless marriage. Elizabeth flees to the safety of her family to protect her from the embarrassment and rejection by the only man she has ever truly loved. When Elizabeth returns, she receives some news that will contradict everything she believed to be true. Can Elizabeth find it in her heart to trust once more, and even if she can, will her faith prevent her one final chance of happiness?
Shadow of the Past by Susan M B Preston is a story that will engage you immediately. The descriptive narrative was exceptional and I was immediately swept into the lives of Elizabeth and her family. I loved the character of Elizabeth; she was strong but also had a vulnerability which I thought was so endearing. The relationship with her daughter was also beautiful. The sub-plots regarding Elizabeth's family gave the story real substance, especially between Sara and Micah. The relationships between the different family members were very interesting and there were many issues between the characters that were compelling to see unravelled. The women in the story were portrayed sympathetically; they were strong but in the 1st century, it seems they had little chance of independent thought or opinion. I really wanted Elizabeth to find happiness because I empathized with her kind and caring character so much. The author has clearly done her research regarding the era and included many little details which made the whole story authentic. The dialogue was unique to each character, and I was pleased that the author did not use the dialect of the time as this would have been a distraction from the storyline. The ending was perfect and, hopefully, there will be a sequel. I would love to discover what happens to Elizabeth next.