May 23, 2017 the Park Grove Library discussed The Legend of Sheba by Tosca Lee. Thank you to another member for writing this discussion.
We had thirteen book club members in attendance, including a new member, and everyone liked The Legend of Sheba by Tusca Lee. Some of our member's thoughts were that the writing transported one reader back to 900 BC, along with reminding multiple people of the The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Many others compared the account of Solomon and Sheba from the Bible books in First Kings and Song of Solomon. One member shared the account of these historical figures from the Quran. Several readers said it took them 4-5 chapters to get into the story, while others were captivated from the very start. One member brought a copy of a book, King Solomon's Table, that had recipes and some history. Another brought a study Bible version of the account of Sheba's journey to Solomon's court.
We discussed the geography in the travel of the book, liked the maps in the book itself and marveled at the long journey by camel with their entire entourage. We also talked about the political aspects behind Sheba and Solomon's relationship, the fact that there wasn't even a port in Ethiopia at the time, and the strategy behind Soloman's many marriages. One member was very amused by the accounts of Solomon juggling to appease his many wives due to their political affiliations Members expressed a desire to read other books by this author and someone had read Iscariot.
One of the group leader's questions was about our perception of Sheba before and after reading the book. Most readers thought that she was much more complex after reading and many were not expecting her to have had to fight her step-mom for her own crown. We did discuss that these accounts are fictional as there is no real historical record regarding her path to the throne. Our perceptions of Solomon afterwards were less changed, as people were expecting him to be wise, but also, arrogant and even greedy. We discussed that greed was Solomon's fatal flaw. Others were surprised at how mercenary his many marriages were, and not romantic as he was when he wrote as a poet.
We asked in what ways could we identify with Sheba. People answered that relationships are complicated and there is a question as to whether they are worth the risk. Members related that she was essentially lonely, had no one to advise her as she was growing up, and no one she could really trust. One member identified with her sense of freedom when she was "on the road" and had left her castle, traveling to Israel. Another liked the humanity expressed when Sheba and Solomon snuck out into the city incognito. One person also liked the scene where Sheba removed her shoes to walk through the pond to approach Solomon. She thought that Solomon had set this up as a test for her.
We talked about our identity and who we are when names and titles are stripped away. members talked about fresh starts that they have made in their lives and their spiritual retreats. Several talked about joining book club as a positive step in developing their own identities, particularly in the wake of a divorce or relationship discord.