Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, April 10, 2015

Historical Book Review: Blood of a Stone by Jeanne Gassman

I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of Jeanne Gassman's debut novel, Blood of a Stone, and I was thoroughly impressed with this new author's grasp on the era and her compelling characters! A wonderful book!


Set in the first century on the edges of the Roman Empire and the Jesus movement, Blood of a Stone is a sweeping story of murder, betrayal, love, and the search for redemption.

Faced with the brutality of slavery, Demetrios confronts his master and flees by the blood of a stone. Determined to escape his past, he struggles to create a new life and a new identity with his friend and fellow escaped slave, Elazar.

However, freedom has its price. Secrets cannot remain secret forever. A chance for love is lost. Elazar betrays Demetrios to a so-called prophet named Jesus of Nazareth. Fearing the Roman authorities and Jesus, Demetrios risks everything to silence those who would enslave him again. His quest leads him to startling discoveries and dire choices. Demetrios must answer the question we all ask: Can we ever be free of our past?



BLOOD OF A STONE by Jeanne Gassman is an enthralling, introspective historical tale that studies the human spirit in all its various forms: the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. The novel is touching, wonderfully written and has a stunning story line that will stay with me for a long time. 

We are first introduced to Demetrios, a gentile, as a child being sold into slavery by his ruthless father. He is treated awfully by his slave owner as well which pushes him to grab hold of a stone and commit a heinous crime. He has to escape of face certain death. Along with a former slave, Elazar, a Jew, they start a new life as caravan drivers.

Demetrios has his first taste of love, but it is quickly ripped away. He also struggles with a sense of self and with how he is perceived by others. His paranoia regarding his past is a constant badge he wears and causes him to struggle nearly every day and in every interaction. Just when it seems like for him may be taking a turn for the better, Elazar deserts him, pursuing his own spiritual path as of Jesus's followers.

Demetrios is heart broken that his long-time friend and business partner would desert him, but he is even more hurt when he finds out that Elazar has betrayed his trust and confided in Jesus all of Demetrios's past crimes. Unsure of what to do, he seeks out a Sorceress of Galilee, hoping for her to give him a solution to his problem. But what she tasks him with would cause his own death if he were caught--but the alternative is that he risks being caught anyway.

With his new mission in mind, Demetrios plans to find Jesus on his path to Jerusalem with his caravan. But in the end, he gets and loses a lot more than he bargained for.  A harrowing and emotional journey that will test the limits of Demetrios's resolve and will.

This book was well researched and presented. The details really made the scenery come alive, and the characters were compelling. The novel is deeply moving. Highly recommend!


JEANNE LYET GASSMAN lives in Arizona where the desert landscape inspires much of her fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has received fellowships from Ragdale and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. In addition to writing, Jeanne teaches creative writing workshops in the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area. Her work has appeared in Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Red Savina Review, The Museum of Americana, Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters, Switchback, Literary Mama, and Barrelhouse, among many others. Blood of a Stone is her debut novel. Visit her website!


Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the review Eliza, Tuscany Press will be sharing on our blog and social media :) Have a great day!

Unknown said...

thank you

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