The Silk Merchant of Sychar by Cindy Williams

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21 – Roman Empire

One woman, five husbands and the weary rabbi at the well who knows everything she ever did.

The day after they bury her husband Leah Marcellus loses her baby. A widow and childless, what man will want her now? Her father arranges a second marriage—a profitable business arrangement—sealed on Mount Gerizim, the holy mountain where every true follower of Yahweh worships, but Leah’s heart belongs to another. Her passion only brings trouble – jealousy, murder and lies.

Leah’s skill at the loom and the secrets of dye –the woad, the murex and madder—brings her renown among the Roman women of wealth. Yet death and betrayal soon steal her security. In desperation, Leah sacrifices her peace of mind and risks everything to protect her family.

From the olive groves of Samaria to the bloodied sand of a Roman stadium to the exquisite silks brought from the East, The Silk Merchant of Sychar weaves colour into the biblical account of the woman at the well.

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

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25 – Philippi (Greece)

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances—along with her father’s precious dye—help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.