Monday, September 03, 2007


Gormley, Beatrice. 2007. Salome.

Salome, the daughter of Herod and Herodias, is perhaps best known for her role in the death of one of God’s greatest prophets--John the Baptist. Very little is known about her, but Gormley wanted this story to come to life. How did this teenage girl become involved in murder in the first place?

Salome is the fictional accounting of this story--both before, during and after--told from her own point of view. The priveleged daughter, one might think she could do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. But actually, Salome wasn’t free to follow her heart at all. What Salome wanted most was to devote her life to the goddess of Diana. She felt a calling, dreamed a dream, saw a vision. The priestess herself said that she was ‘destined’ to be a priestess in Diana’s temple. But her mother, Herodias, had different plans for her daughter.

Herodias left Herod Junior to be with her brother-in-law, Antipas, the ruler of Tiberias. (Both men were her uncles.) She decided her daughter simply must come with them. Even though, Salome, felt her life was in Rome.

New home. New country. New rules. Salome doesn’t quite know what to make of it all. She doesn’t like who her mother is becoming. Her stepfather keeps making eyes at her. And overall, it’s just very very strange. Her maid, Gundi, knows that Salome is becoming a fine woman, a beautiful woman, who can start manipulating men and getting her own way. But Salome isn’t sure that’s what she wants.

One of the big thing her mother obsesses over? The wild and crazy Baptizer out in the desert preaching to the crowds. I suppose I can understand her perspective. After all, what woman wants to be told that her “new” marriage isn’t a marriage at all. That it is plain and simple adultery. And incestrous adultery at that. Her big fear? What if her husband pays attention to him? What if she is tossed aside like Antipas’ first wife? She’ll have no home and no power.

To keep her man, she must kill the prophet. But her husband, he has his own perspective. He doesn’t see the man as a threat. In fact, he’s drawn to the man for some strange reason. He likes to hear him talk.

No, if something is going to be done about this prophet, it won’t come from her husband’s orders...

Which leaves one manipulative mother and one vulnerable teenage girl who is out to prove to her mother once and for all that she is not out to hurt her. Not out to take her place. Not attempting to be “more beautiful” or “more powerful” or “more enchanting” or more whatever. Herodias feels threatened, and it is Salome that has to make it up to her. To make her mother happy.

One dance.
One request.

For better or worse, this is Salome’s story.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very good.

Beatrice Gormley's website

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