A Happy Ending {Book Club}

Don’t you love a happy ending?

There is something satisfying about turning the last page of a book and having all the threads tied off in a nice bow, all problems happily solved, all questions answers. While my more contemplative side enjoys wondering about questions that weren’t answered and problems that remain unsolved, a book that ends like Jewel of the Nile by Tessa Afshar is relaxing and peaceful.

The characters in this book kept a lot of secrets from each other (and from us). The ultimate secret was, of course, who Chariline’s father was. What satisfied me about the ending was that everyone finally got everything out in the open.

Natemahar’s reason for keeping the secret that he was Chariline’s father was at first for her safety. When she was so young, she might not have been able to keep the secret from her grandfather. But once Chariline was old enough he still didn’t reveal himself because he thought she would be ashamed to have a eunuch for a father. She felt he gave her too little credit, but later revised her conclusion: he gave his condition too much credit.

“Under every decision for silence, for secrecy, lay something far subtler, like the snake in Paradise, slithering on its belly and making sibilant accusations.”

We have known for many chapters that Theo has kept secret the circumstances of his conception and birth. Chariline had her own theories about how he and his brother had the same mother and different fathers, but she turned out to be wrong. His reasons for keeping secrets were very much like Natemahar’s, although there was also the fact that he had only just met Chariline. Still, the crew of his ship, even those he considered friends, didn’t know much about him. He expected Chariline to reject him if he told her (and his crew members to look down on him if he told them) his secrets. When he finally told Chariline that he was conceived when his mother was raped, instead of pushing him away, she professed her love for him.

All of these secrets were kept out of fear that, were the truth known, the person would be rejected. But relationships can’t thrive when there are secrets. We can’t get close to people when we’re keeping things from each other. Though Chariline was friends with Natemahar and Theo both, after their secrets were revealed, they became much closer. I’m not advocating for sharing everything about ourselves with everyone we meet. There is a difference between keeping secrets from people we have a close relationship with and not knowing someone well enough to share certain information with them.

Chariline’s grandfather, who should have made an effort to have a relationship with her, instead forced the family to keep secrets about her mother and father. As a result, Chariline could never be close to her grandparents. Chariline couldn’t be close to Blandina, either, because she complied with her father’s wishes for secrecy. I wonder how much she really knew… In the beginning, when Natemahar welcomed Chariline and Blandina to Meroë, we read that Blandina never remembered him, despite the fact that he always welcomed them. Did she not remember him, or did she know exactly who he was but was playing a part to keep everyone out of trouble? I would like to know more about her.

What we see in the end is that the three (Chariline, Theo, and Natemahar) all made progress in their emotional healing through honesty, acceptance, and love for one another. More than that, their relationships with God and each other grew stronger. Chariline “learned to look in the mirror and not see a mistake, but to find instead God’s jewel staring back at her through the scars of her life.”

How did you feel about the ending of the book? Which character did you relate to the most? Who would you like to know more about?

Our November book is Mastering the Art of French Eating: From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love by Ann Mah.

Here’s the schedule for the book:

November 2: Chapters 1-3

November 9: Chapters 4-6

November 16: Chapters 7-8

November 23: Chapters 9-10, Epilogue

November 30: Giving Tuesday

Photo by Mariam Soliman on Unsplash

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10 Comments

  1. Sarah Hilkemann October 25, 2021

    I’m all for happy endings, but it did seem like everything worked out a little too well in the end. 🙂 The Kandake had been made out to be this strong, powerful woman and then it seemed like she was a little too nice in the end to me. I did appreciate the ways that Chariline grew throughout the book and found belonging with her father and with Theo.

    1. Rachel Kahindi October 26, 2021

      It kind of reminded me of a Hallmark Christmas movie. 🙂

        1. Michelle October 29, 2021

          Oh you are both spot on. Hallmark all the way!

    2. Amanda Hutton November 7, 2021

      Sarah, I 100% agree! I feel like there should have been a little more of a mess.

  2. Bayta Schwarz October 26, 2021

    Yep, the ending was definitely a little too Hollywood for my liking 😉 I enjoyed the book, though, as all the ways through, there was nuance and characters were developing. And I always enjoy learning more about “normal life” and context of the times we read about in the Bible.

    1. Rachel Kahindi October 29, 2021

      I liked the characters and watching them develop throughout the book, too.

      I read (aloud to my kids) The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare last year, and that made me want to read more books set in Bible times. It’s about some teenagers who wanted to be zealots — the main character knew Simon the Zealot, who connected them to Jesus.

  3. Grace L October 28, 2021

    Yes, it was a happily ever after ending. Even so, we could imagine that life after marriage will bring its challenges. But I sure am glad that they got the “bad guy” in the end. Both this book and her previous one had a mysterious villain that was only discovered and defeated at the very end.

    I liked this book and the characters and how they developed. But, I must say, I liked her previous book better, “Daughter of Rome” in which Priscilla and Aquilla are the main characters. The author develops these two well known biblical figures very well and spoke a lot of biblical truths through them and the way they lived out their faith. I may even reread that again. If you liked this book, I think you would enjoy Daughter of Rome even more.

    1. Rachel Kahindi October 29, 2021

      Oh …That’s great. I really loved Priscilla and Aquila. It would be interesting to see how she develops them!

  4. Michelle October 29, 2021

    Very enjoyable read!

    I’m gonna bow out of club next month as we will be in a whirlwind home assignment.

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