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A Love Story to Top All Love Stories

December 25, 2021

Another Way for week of December 17, 2021

A Love Story to Top All Love Stories

I love the backstory which renowned author Marjorie Holmes provided for one of her first novels based on Biblical characters, Mary and Joseph. Perhaps you will find how this book came to be interesting too.

“One Christmas Eve … a woman [she’s writing about herself on the book’s dust jacket] sat in a darkened church. The greens, the carols, the beauty of the night, all contributed to the expectant stillness that filled the church. Suddenly the woman became aware of a strong sweet smell of hay in the candlelit manger.”

This all “actually happened,” author Holmes suddenly thought in wonder. “It happened to real people in a real place with real smells and sounds and with a young mother that was no older than my own daughter.”

Holmes was a bestselling author for years (deceased 2002) and I found her book Two from Galilee: A Love Story of Mary and Joseph fascinating(published by Fleming Revell, 1972). We hear lots of stories and wonderings, especially this time of year, about how it was for Mary and Joseph as they hurried to Bethlehem and the eventual birth of baby Jesus. 

In her book, Holmes adds in believable struggles and emotions for Mary and Joseph, family disagreements over politics, and a father-in-law who drinks too much: imaginative details and drama. Holmes did serious research, including traveling to Palestine to enrich her descriptions. She used some poetic license to write her novel. Thus critics have pooh-poohed some of her writing, and some felt she went too far astray with the biblical tales she relates in some of her other books. But anyone who has written 134 books, and sold millions and millions of books over many years gets my respect.

In Two from Galilee, Holmes imagines what it would have been like for a very beautiful young girl, Mary, (so pretty that her mother schemes and hopes for a beau of wealth who could offer a high bride price for Mary)—which would certainly change the fortunes of a humble family. Mary catches the eye of every young man in Galilee, including an older guy, Joseph, who is also from a relatively poor family. Holmes’ novel takes off from there, weaving in historical facts regarding life in Galilee under brutal Roman rule. Cruelty, especially for the Jewish people, abounds. But everyone in the Jewish community knows full well that at some point a Messiah has been promised to rescue them from their difficult station in life. They knew from the scriptures that God had promised this, and every young woman growing up and (her parents) wondered if she would be the one to birth this promised baby.

Mary and cousin Elizabeth, sharing baby news

So Joseph and Mary, according to this book, have been eyeing each other for years and finally the time comes when Joseph’s father is able to arrange a betrothal for his son. Appropriate gifts are exchanged. Joseph is beyond excited. However, Mary’s mother is portrayed as somewhat disappointed in not gaining a wealthier son-in-law; but with a little arm twisting from young Mary—the mother comes around. A wedding will come later but for all purposes, the future bride and groom are technically married by law, even though the “honeymoon” will come after the formal wedding. They begin preparing for their life together with Joseph fixing up a future home and Mary working on her trousseau.

Then the angel Gabriel makes his announcement to Mary; she soon flees to Aunt Elizabeth’s house in the countryside near Jerusalem. Author Holmes broadens our picture of how things might have happened—not the least of which is what should Joseph do with his pregnant, betrothed, beloved Mary? I’ll write more about that next week.

The real love story here is how God loved the world and sent Jesus to earth, and that love can change us all.

If you’ve never read this book and enjoy fictional accounts of real happenings, it might be for you. Merry Christmas everyone!

Send your thoughts or comments to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. I became a fan of Marjorie Holmes when I read I’ve Got to Talk to Somebody, God years ago. She is a prolific author, and I believe she also wrote pieces for Guideposts.

    This is a beautiful story with two women experiencing pregnancy at the extreme ends of childbearing years, Mary a teenager and Elizabeth even older than I. I hope you enjoyed a Merry Christmas. Now it’s December 26, second Christmas as my mother used to say. 😀

  2. So, not surprised to find you a long time fan. I’m not sure where or why I missed out, I had definitely heard of her and knew she was prolific, but I had never really read a whole book.

    I don’t remember hearing Mom call Dec. 26 second Christmas: for us it was birthday day for 2 of my siblings (oldest and youngest) and later, my sister who was born on Dec. 26, also had a child on Dec. 26.. 🙂

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