Paris. 1889. Just before the completion of the Eiffel Tower and the opening of theExposition Universelle, Emma du Jardin collapses after the sudden death of her baby. Her husband removes her from Paris to an asylum in far away Provence. During the months of her confine-ment, Emma writes to her sister, recounting her struggle to regain her emotional balance and describing her life with the eccentric asylum residents. Emma's letters resurrect her granddaughter's lingering uncertainty. Was her grandmother the friend, muse, and lover of Vincent van Gogh? Is the portrait La Croqueuse du Jardin. which still graces the family's dining room wall an original van Gogh painting?
In 2005, Rose Forcir unearths a cache of well-preserved letters written by her grandmother over one hundred years earlier. These letters resurrect a lingering suspicion of Rose’s. Was her grandmother the friend, muse, and lover of Vincent van Gogh? Was the painting La Croqueuse du Jardin, which still graces the dining room wall of the family home, painted by this genius?
Danya, a literate, independent-minded young woman, grows up in the village of Nazareth. Personal betrayals, social strictures, and family tragedies crush Danya’s dream of fighting to free her people from Roman domination. Instead she is married off and lives as an outsider in the sophisticated city of Sepphoris, the Roman capital of Galilee. Danya struggles to write her own life, a story woven into the political, religious, and cultural conflicts of the tumultuous world of ancient Palestine early in the first century.
Her companions include some real historical and scriptural figures: Joanna, the wife of Herod’s chief steward; Judah ben Hezekiah, the leader of a Galilean insurrection; Jesus, before his public life; and his mother Mary, among others.
This extensively researched, fast-paced narrative has its roots in the study of the historical Jesus. However, Danya’s writings give voice to the silent women of that era. Her search for a meaningful life, though unique to her world, is both universal and contemporary.
REVIEWS: "Anne McGivern’s excellent historical fiction debut, Danya: A Woman of Ancient Galilee, gives a rare glimpse into women’s lives in biblical times as well as the Jewish revolutionary movements that paved the way for the teachings of Jesus. . . . McGivern weaves in historical information smoothly . . . and Danya’s confiding first-person voice overcomes any distance readers might feel from an ancient setting. . . . Fans of historical fiction will find McGivern’s strong, compelling heroine hard to resist and will surely savor this compelling novel. . . . Highly recommended for fans of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tentand Geraldine Brooks’ The Secret Chord." - Starred, BlueInk Reviews
“Thoroughly researched and perceptively written, this novel . . . gives a convincing account of how families might have lived in first century Palestine . . . The author skillfully interweaves the lives of fictional and real-life characters to spin a convincing yarn. . . that believably portrays Jewish life under Roman rule, the seeds of Christianity, and a woman’s battles for survival.” – Kirkus Reviews
"The story flows at a swift, even pace through the characters’ lives, spanning two decades and sustaining interest from the first page to the last. The epilogue delivers a final, rewarding surprise, while a map and a list of characters mentioned in ancient texts amplify the historical context.
Danya is historical fiction in top form, on par with Philippa Gregory or Anita Diamant. Though primarily a woman’s story, it will appeal to anyone interested in well-written fiction or in the tumultuous history of today’s Middle East" - Foreword Clarion Review
When the author brought home a little parrot in 1985 and named her Jenny, she could never have guessed the impact the beautiful, affectionate, and intelligent gold-capped conure would have on her life. The stories of her bird companions parallel her own flights to and from jobs, marriages, and memories. As she adds Jenny, Lucy, Desi, Mini, Max, Syd and Kiwi to her household, she reflects on her family as she was growing up and the animals she lived with then. She explores how her relationships with family, partners, and animals intersected with her successes and failures, her doubts and certainties, her losses and joys as she moved through the decades of her life.