“Casting Samson” by Melinda Hammond

Casting Samson is almost three stories in one.  The primary story is Deborah’s.  She arrives at her boyfriend’s apartment in London after a cancelled “spa day” to find him coming out of the shower with another woman.  Deborah then goes to her parent’s home to gather herself back together.  She quickly becomes enmeshed in the village events, even helping with a village production of biblical and local stories. One of her jobs is to find someone for the role of Samson. Her story weaves through the book, and you get a sense of a young woman trying to find out what she really wants out of life – is it big city living or small village comfort?  Deborah can’t answer this for herself until the very end of the book.

The second story is Hugo/Hugh Moreton’s. He is a Templar Knight in the 1100s.  We are introduced to him as he is leaving his ancestral home to journey to the Holy Land.  He feels forced to leave because of his love for his brother’s wife.  The village legend in Deborah’s time is that Hugo Moreton built the church in Deborah’s village.  We see bits and pieces of his story throughout the book, sometimes from his viewpoint, sometimes his brother’s or his brother’s wife’s.

The third story is Anne’s.  She is a young widow living in the same village as Deborah.  Like Deborah, she has been pulled into helping with the village production. She inadvertently makes an opponent (they really aren’t enemies, but aren’t really friends) out of Professor Toby Duggan, who doesn’t believe the village claims of a Templar church.  Anne becomes obsessed with proving him wrong, even though he tries to work with her to prove or disprove his theory.

In all, I liked this book.  It was a quick read with mostly interesting characters.  Two of my favorite secondary characters were the elderly people in the village.  Neither had married, but they were involved in everything and very spunky.  One of the problems I had with it is that I felt like it tried to be too much.  In the beginning, a mysterious voice/person calms and comforts Deborah when she arrives at the village church.  That is never explained – it just happens and then the story moves on – was it Hugo?  was it the village priest? It just didn’t seem to have a purpose.  Another example is that occasionally Deborah gets visions of Hugo and family.  Again, it just didn’t seem to have a purpose.  While it was interesting learning about Hugo and hearing his story,  it didn’t really feel like it meshed with the rest of the book, until the last few pages.

I liked Deborah’s story.  Although she seemed a bit too “much”, I thought that it worked for her age and her story.  I liked Anne a lot as well.  I would have liked to know more about her.

Amazon Product Page

I received an free copy of this book from the publisher using the NetGalley system. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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