Ataxerxes, King of Persia needed a wife. This warrior lord was so powerful that he could make his choice from all his Empire. He picked the one girl who would have given anything to have been passed over, a Jewish scholar, Esther, from the back streets of his capital, Shushan. To a King bored by the chattering of women wreathed in musky scents, this changeling was a breath of fresh air. But the new Queen of Persia was lost in a world of protocol and soon lost her husband's favour. Worse, she had to hide her faith and deny her origins for Haman, the King's favourite, was an Amelekite, an ancient enemy of the Jews, and determined to have revenge. Esther's only hope to avert a holocaust was to risk her own life and go, uninvited, before a King who had already disposed of one unpopular wife. Norah Lofts' Esther, first published in 1951, is a magical re-telling of the Old Testament Book of Esther, the story behind the Jewish festival of Purim.