PENELOPE’S WAY Secondary Title

In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.

But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.

Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.

Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.

The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.

Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.

The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.


“This book is a great read: a compact narrative with a wide-ranging story and metamagical themes that allow small incursions of another world into this one… Penelope’s Way moves along at quite a clip with its layered stories and curious characters; although it was most satisfying, I found it ended far too soon. So I’ll read it again. Soon.”
Globe & Mail

“This novel spirals in a beautiful whirl of both cosmic and earthly concerns. A whole world held up to the light – love, lust, family, friendship, Time, Chaos, potluck dinners – all the good stuff is here.”
Eliza Clark

Howard – late bloomer though she may be – is clearly someone to watch.”
The Vancouver Sun

“Her search for the meaning of life is destined to fail, but Penelope, and the reader, find a satisfying middle ground where contentment is possible.”
Quill & Quire

Coteau CAN/2000


In this rich, luminous novel, we come to know the life, loves, times and obsessions of Penelope Stevens, as it unfolds in monthly instalments the year she turns 70.

It is an eventful year for Penelope, a warm and vibrant woman, who, as she walks four kilometres daily through the residential streets of Vancouver, ponders her search for the meaning of life.

As she tries to make sense of her own life, her marriage, and her place in time and in the universe, her adult children, Brenda and Gordon come to need her at their time of crisis. Her former lover George dies during one of the monthly potluck dinners. Penny can barely remember the passion but the guilt lingers on.

Does Penny decode the meaning of life? Well, yes. Blanche Howard also offers a wonderful and uplifting surprise ending, buoyant with hope and love.