Review: Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate by Diana Wallis Taylor
Claudia’s life did not start easily. The illegitimate daughter of Julia, reviled and exiled daughter of Caesar Augustus, Claudia spends her childhood in a guarded villa with her mother and grandmother. When Tiberius, who hates Julia, takes the throne, Claudia is wrenched away from her mother to be brought up in the palace in Rome. The young woman is adrift–until she meets Lucius Pontius Pilate and becomes his wife. When Pilate is appointed Prefect of the troublesome territory of Judea, Claudia does what she has always done: she makes the best of it. But unrest is brewing on the outskirts of the Roman Empire, and Claudia will soon find herself and her beloved husband embroiled in controversy and rebellion. Might she find peace and rest in the teaching of the mysterious Jewish Rabbi everyone seems to be talking about?
This is the second book I’ve read by Ms. Wallis Taylor and the second book I’ve read this year dealing with the crucifixion of Christ with a character typically vilified used as the protagonist. The first, Iscariot by Tosca Lee, had Judas and this novel features the wife of Pilate as the main character with Pilate a strong second.
I was immediately drawn into the world of Rome and the intrigue in Tiberius’s household. Even though I knew Claudia would end up marrying Pilate, I hoped she wouldn’t end up married to some old dude first ;). Or that Pilate wasn’t [I’ll be honest – have no clue how old I thought he was prior to this]. Tiberius’s right hand man has it out for Claudia and they are sent to govern the unruly Jewish people.
Life is both easy – she is a wealthy Roman noblewoman – and hard – her husband can be a hard man and seems to have been promoted above his ability at that time. Claudia learns about the Jewish faith from several around her and, eventually, hears of a new prophet, from Galilee – Jesus.
The perspective of Pilate, given what happens with Claudia and her encounter with Jesus, gives new theoretical insight into his rationale and maybe, just maybe, what he did wasn’t as unforgivable as many might think. Was he backed into a corner? He was a piece of a greater plan leading the salvation of the world.
Though a much lighter read than Iscariot, both bring fresh perspective to the crucifixion of Christ – something ordained before the foundations of the earth.
I especially enjoyed the ending. I won’t spoil it but it was happier than I’d anticipated.
Claudia was a pleasant read and I’ll be looking for more by Ms. Wallis Taylor.
Overall rating: 8.75 out of 10 stars
Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.