The Bible story of Esther is one of the original Cinderella tales but, instead of an evil step family, Esther has a strong heritage for which she is willing to give her life.
H.B. Moore's new novel "Esther the Queen" adds historical and cultural context as well as a Mormon perspective to one of the few Bible stories with a strong, righteous heroine.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Moore's previous novels have fictionalized stories from the Book of Mormon. In "Esther the Queen," LDS readers can discern Moore's interpretation of Esther's character and experience.
One example is when Esther, after worrying about marrying a worldly king not of her faith, prays and receives a confirmation through feelings of comfort and peace that this is what God wants her to do. She doesn't understand it, but she willingly follows what she believes is God's will throughout the story. This pattern of personal revelation is an important part of LDS doctrine, and many Mormons will be able to relate to what Esther goes through.
One of the main pleasures of the novel is the romance between King Xerxes and Esther. In Moore's hands, Xerxes is idealized into a regular Prince Charming and, realistic or not, readers can enjoy discovering Esther's "happily ever after" as she falls in love with a wealthy, handsome king.
Esther's story is great not merely because she begins as a lowly commoner and marries a great king. She is great because she defends her people and faith in front of that king at her own peril. Although the situation is wrapped in romance, it is apparent her willingness to sacrifice and do the Lord's will leads Esther to her happy ending.
Michelle Garrett is a Brigham Young University graduate and has interned at "The Friend" magazine, Church News and Mormon Times.