Saturday, September 11, 2010

REVIEW: Michal (Wives of King David Bk 1) by Jill Eileen Smith

The Kingdom of Israel is in turmoil. Led by King Saul who is plagued by demons for disobeying God, the war with the Philistines is stalled as no one will come forward to face the giant Goliath to defeat them. David, the harpist who is the only one who can sooth the King during one of his bouts of madness steps forward as his belief in God is so great he knows he will prevail. David slays Goliath and in return is promised Saul’s daughter Michal. Michal is thrilled with this arrangement as she has been in love with David for some time. Soon Saul’s favored attitude toward David is replaced by bitter jealousy as it becomes clear that the people love David even more than Saul. David, who the Prophet Samuel predicted will take over rule of Israel from Saul’s line is soon in mortal danger and has to flee the Kingdom. Michal is shattered when David must leave her behind. Saul annuls her marriage to David and gives her to another and she spends years hearing of David taking other wives and growing in power. When it comes time to reunite with David Michal is conflicted over her feelings about the other wives, David never returning for her and her own beliefs about God. She must decide if she can let go of the bitterness, overcome her feelings and stand by the side of the man she has always loved as he units the 12 tribes of Israel.

At the beginning of every section, Jill Eileen Smith quotes the passages of the Bible that pertain to the upcoming section so you can see that she has faithfully followed what is actually in the Bible. I appreciate historical accuracy and since I am not well versed in the Bible stories I felt this was very helpful. I liked the beginning of the book where Michal was a young girl and she and David were totally devoted to each other even if her father made repeated attempts to kill David and finally drove him away. She was a really likeable character at this point and I felt bad for her because her sister was vindictive and her father was a raving lunatic.

When David decides he needs a wife to ensure heirs once he secures the Kingdom I was a little surprised at how quickly he pushed his love for Michal aside and then took one wife and then another and another. The book takes on a different (slightly preachy) tone here when this happens and Michal’s character changes from wronged Princess to bitter, jealous, selfish woman. I think the reason I didn’t like the whole repent your sins and let God in solution for Michal getting rid of these ill feelings is because I don’t blame her for having them! I don’t think repenting your sins or seeking a closer relationship to God is wrong. I do think to make her hurt and jealousy seem wrong is a bad thing. Can you blame her for despising the other wives? Here is how I think of it: If you were having a property dispute with your neighbor and your neighbor said all would be resolved if your husband would just marry his daughter. He agrees. Then a property dispute breaks out on the other side of your property and your hubby has to marry that neighbor’s daughter to squash the issue there. Wouldn’t you become just a little unhinged at that prospect? I would and I can’t blame the MC for that either, even if this was in biblical times and it was acceptable then.

One other thing I felt could have improved the book was giving a little more background on how Saul displeased God and how exactly David came to be chosen as his replacement (I know, read the BIBLE and all questions will be answered BUT I don’t want to have to reference another book to figure out what is going on in the one I am currently reading). I know this is the story from Michal’s POV but I think it would have given more clarity to the story if this had been included.

For the most part this was an enjoyable story. I think it was a great idea for her to decide to tell the story of David’s wives (this book is followed by Abigail and then Bathsheba which is being released in 2011). I just tend to enjoy Biblical Historical Fiction more when it focuses on the actual story and less on sending some sort of message.

This book is from my own personal library

1 comment:

  1. I have read a few Biblical Fiction and have really enjoyed them. Thanks for the review of this one.