Pilate’s Daughter by Fiona Vietch-Smith

The year is AD28.

In Roman-occupied Judea, Claudia Lucretia Pilate, daughter of the governor Pontius Pilate, is not happy with her father’s choice of husband for her – the handsome Roman Tribune Marcus Gaius Sejanus, who has been assigned the task of ridding Palestine of the troublesome Zealots.

Lover of Greek myths and culture, Claudia has ideals of finding a partner of her own and she unwittingly falls in love with Judah ben Hillel, a young Jewish Zealot, who has been instructed by his kinsmen to kidnap and kill her.

Meanwhile, Marcus has fallen in love himself with a beautiful slave-girl, Nebela, whose mother is the local soothsayer. Despite their different ranks in society, Nebela is determined that she, and not Claudia, shall marry Marcus, and with her mother’s help she weaves an intricate plot to try and get her way.

Languishing in jail is John the Baptist, having prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah. Regarded by the Romans as a madman, John’s fate will be decided by the whims of the women in Herod’s household.

Word on the street is that a Jewish prophet from Galilee has been causing unrest, drawing huge crowds to hear him speak and watch him perform wonders and healings.

Claudia’s father, Pontius, becomes a key player in the final destiny of the prophet, and despite warnings from his wife after her vivid dreams, he is swept along by expectations of the Jewish leaders to uphold the local traditions and finds himself in a dangerously compromising situation.

As the last days of Jesus are played out in Jerusalem, the future happiness of Claudia and Judah becomes ever more thwarted and the outcome played out in a wider arena than they ever imagined.

A tale of star-crossed lovers, Pilate’s Daughter brings to the fore many lesser-known characters from the gospel accounts of Jesus, who mingle with fictional characters against the historical backdrop of Roman life in Palestine.

Fiona Veitch Smith is the author of books, plays and screenplays for both children and adults. Formerly a journalist, she is best-known for her historical crime series, Poppy Denby Investigates, about a feisty reporter sleuth in 1920s London. The first book in the series, The Jazz Files, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Historical Dagger Award 2016, sponsored by Endeavour Press.

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