Chynoweth (The Runaway Prophet, 2016, etc.) retells the biblical story of Job in this contemporary novel.
Seth Jacobs has everything a man could want: a 40-room mansion on 200 acres, a national chain of celebrated waterfront restaurants, wealth, influence, a beautiful wife, and accomplished and loving children. During a delay on the Boston subway, Seth considers how lucky he is to lead the life he does. Unfortunately, that life comes crashing down the moment Seth gets back above ground. He walks into his Boston restaurant to discover that a severe case of food poisoning has broken out among his customers: “He looked into the chandeliered main dining room and saw a hundred or so well-dressed men and women in different states of sickness, their faces contorted in varying degrees of pain.” One of the afflicted is a U.S. senator, who ends up dying as a result. Later that same night, his sons are involved in a car accident that leaves one in a coma and the other charged with driving while intoxicated. One by one, the pillars of support and fortune in Seth’s life begin to topple: he loses his family, his business, and even his health. Like the protagonist in the Book of Job, Seth sees his life utterly destroyed. The only question that remains is whether his faith has been demolished as well. Chynoweth constructs—and then deconstructs —Seth’s life with an eye for detail and an inventive sense of how one tragedy can beget the next. While Seth’s existence is depicted as almost cartoonishly lavish at the beginning (and the protagonist portrayed as cloyingly virtuous), once his trials begin the reader cannot help but feel sympathy for him. The book is a fairly faithful expansion of the familiar story of Job, and so things unfold in a more or less predictable fashion. Those looking for twists and turns may become a bit bored with the archetypical plot, but for readers content with an exploration of what a contemporary Job might look like, Chynoweth’s tale should more than satisfy.
A well-constructed, if rather straightforward, modern adaptation of the Book of Job.