Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Carol Wallace (based on the bestselling novel by Lew Wallace)
About this book: (from the publisher) As one of the bestselling stories of all time, Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christhas captivated and enthralled millions around the world—both in print and on the big screen. Now Lew’s great-great-granddaughter has taken the old-fashioned prose of this classic novel and breathed new life into it for today’s audience.
Coming to theaters in August 2016 as Ben-Hur, a major motion picture from MGM and Paramount studios, the story follows Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman whose childhood friend Messala betrays him. Accused of trying to murder the new Roman governor in Jerusalem, Judah is sentenced to the galley ships and vows to seek revenge against the Romans and Messala. But a chance encounter with a carpenter from Nazareth sets Judah on a different path.
Rediscover the intrigue, romance, and tragedy in this thrilling adventure.
Also included: the inspiring story-behind-the-story of Lew Wallace—Indiana lawyer, author, and Civil War general.
About the author: Carol Wallace is the great-great-granddaughter of Lew Wallace, author of the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, which was first published in 1880. Carol has written more than twenty books, including most recently a historical novel, Leaving Van Gogh. She is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller To Marry an English Lord, an inspiration for Downton Abbey. Carol holds degrees from Princeton University and Columbia University.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG for drama and intensity
Reminds me of: The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
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Reflection: World, are you ready for the new Ben-Hur? I hope so, because let me tell you: it’s ready for you.
I heard about this new-and-improved version of Lew Wallace’s classic novel shortly after seeing a trailer for the new-and-improved major motion picture coming to theatres next month. I was intrigued, even though I’d never actually read the original Ben-Hur, having assumed that it would be too ponderous a tome to easily consume (an assumption validated by Carol Wallace herself in her foreword, in which she acknowledges that even the author’s own descendants have avoided reading his antique prose). Nor had I ever seen the classic 1950s version of the movie — aside, of course, from clips of the famous chariot scene — for much the same reason. What intrigued me, however, was the idea that a contemporary writer — a descendant of the original writer, no less — would attempt to take the meat and bones of an enduring story and put new skin on it. Skin that would appeal to contemporary audiences. Could it be done?
While the revamping of a classic might make some staunch literature-lovers roll over in their graves, I have some confidence that Lew Wallace would not be among them. Given the quality his great-great-granddaughter’s work, I have a sense that he would see her updated version not as a travesty, but as the honor it’s meant to be. With some strategic cutting and rearranging, adding depth to female characters and contemporizing of the language, the new Ben-Hur is primed and ready for today’s audiences — both men and women, I might add. When I placed this still-rather-thick novel in my husband’s hands, he raced through it in a matter of days, literally staying up late several nights to finish it. I had a similar experience.
Out of curiosity, I borrowed the original version from my local library, wanting to compare the two. Granted, I’m not the greatest aficionado of classic literature, but to my contemporary eye and soul, I found Carol Wallace’s version vastly more palatable.
If you are a reader who enjoys epic historical drama teeming with adventure and romance — enriched even further by being a beautiful “tale of the Christ” — this one’s for you.
Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: Have you read the original Ben-Hur? Or seen the 1950s movie? What are your thoughts on the remaking of a classic?
MGM/Paramount Pictures major motion picture release of Ben-Hur scheduled for August 12: