2 September 2015

Review: The Advocate by Randy Singer

A book at the bottom of my to-read list

The Advocate is the imagined memoir of Theophilus, the man for whom the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts was written. It begins with a memorable opening line:
“I was fourteen years old when I learned what it meant to be crucified.”
The narrator is Theophilus, who is training to be an advocate, a lawyer, a profession which brings him into contact with many of the famous figures from early Christian history. The author truly brings the time and place alive (perhaps too alive at times). Historical characters include Pontius Pilate, Caligula, and Nero, as well as Jesus and Paul.

The first half of the novel was written entirely from the viewpoint of Theophilus, and is excellent. He’s an intelligent man with an engaging voice. He is well able to analyse and interpret the historic events he finds himself part of, especially as he is writing across a passage of many years. I found this brought the days of the early New Testament to life, and provided an insight into the culture and politics of the times.

The story then moves into a combination of first person and third person, and I didn’t find that worked so well. The writing was still good, but I found the movements between Theophilus and the other viewpoint characters weren’t as smooth as I would have liked. But it then switched again, and the final portion of the book was a powerful and challenging read. Recommended.

This book counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a book from the bottom of my to-read list … because it was a paperback, and it was literally at the bottom of my pile because it was slightly bigger than most paperbacks.