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How Far to Bethlehem? by Norah Lofts

How Far to Bethlehem?

by Norah Lofts

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156576,544 (3.9)22



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Showing 5 of 5
I discovered this book during a pre-Christmas exploration of the Book Barn, a few miles from where I live, and decided it was perfect for the festive season. It’s a thoughtful, rich rendition of the Nativity story, in which the familiar events of the bible are set within their historical context at the turn of the 1st century AD. Most intriguing is Lofts’s vision of the three wise men, who between them span the three known continents of the ancient world.

Melchior is a scholar trained at Pyongyang University in Korea: a passionate astronomer, who has exhausted his sizable inheritance by building a magnificent observatory from which he can observe the heavens. With all his heart fixed on the skies, he barely notices the things of this world, such as his mutely adoring slave Senya, or their rapidly dwindling supplies. Elderly master and aged slave are on the verge of starvation when Melchior glimpses something extraordinary – a new star, which brings omens and prophecies which disturb him deeply. Despite his great age, he becomes determined to head west, into unknown country, in search of a child, due to be born somewhere near a town said to be called Jerusalem. Impractical, innocent and single-minded, he sets out...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2016/12/26/how-far-to-bethlehem-norah-lofts/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Apr 9, 2017 |
How have I missed this book over the years? I very much enjoyed reading the story from all the different points of view and the title is perfect. Chapters tell the distance to Bethlehem from each standpoint, plus it can be interpreted multiple ways according to one's personal view.

The book begins with an aged 'wise man' Melchior and his lifework overshadowing everything else. His slave/maidservant keeps him alive and as his story progressed, I kept thinking about her and hoping it would track back and she would be OK. Melchior travels and ends up nearly dead at Gaspar's castle. Gaspar has his own reasons to travel with Melchior and they two set off. They meet with Balthazar who is/was a slave but very clever and knows languages. Now the three of them are traveling together. Melchior with his knowledge, Gaspar with his money, and Balthazar with his gift of languages. Elsewhere in the book is the story of Mary, Joseph, and others. The same Nativity characters, but brought to life through Norah Loft's storytelling. ( )
  Auj | Dec 18, 2015 |
I'm not a practising Christian, rather an atheist, but this is a magical telling of the Nativity story. One of the few books I have read twice. ( )
  Woodcat | Jan 10, 2010 |
This is a novel that retells the story of the three wise men. A selection of the Rico Readers (the book club I belong to). I probably would not have read it otherwise. The story is familiar to everyone, but the manner of telling it is frustrating. The author interrupts what little action there is to shift the story to new characters, even late in the novel. In my opinion she should have introduced every character early and followed them through the book, switching back and forth more frequently. ( )
  samfsmith | Dec 10, 2009 |
I try to read this book every Christmas. I love the interweaving of Bible stories and parables. I love the human side of Biblical characters that isn't always evident in Sunday School. I love, for example, that the innkeeper of Bethlehem was formerly a traveler who was set on by bandits, and left at the inn years before Jesus' birth. A masterful retelling of a beloved story. ( )
1 vote MerryMary | Feb 20, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Retelling of the Bible story of Mary and the birth of Jesus.

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