Wednesday, February 24, 2010

'Abigail: A Novel' by Jill Eileen Smith - Book Review

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The Bible is a wonderful book which provides us with many details about the lives of many people.  Jill Eileen Smith is a wonderful author who is providing us a fictional glimpse into several of these people in her ‘The Wives of King David’ series.  The first book in this series is entitled ‘Michal: A Novel.’  Jill’s second novel in this series is entitled ‘Abigail:A Novel.’  Her life is chronicled in the Bible primarily in 1 Samuel 25.  Jill fleshed out her story using a lot of research.  She studied the Bible and visited Israel for her research, and I would assume she also used some extrabiblical resources.  As a seminary student, I was very impressed with the detail in this book.  She uses details that are found in the Bible, such as the Urim and Chummin (see 1 Samuel 14:41), and a parapet (see Deuteronomy 22:8), as well as providing details such as the fact that unleavened bread was cooked on a heated rock.  She did a wonderful job of transporting me back to the period one thousand years prior to the birth of Jesus Christ.   

Jill paints a wonderful and solid portrait of a faithful, honorable, beautiful and intelligent woman.  Abigail had the displeasure, prior to her marriage to David, of being married to a dishonorable man by the name of Nabal.  He was a selfish and wicked man, and he treated her with malice and unkindness.  Despite that, she took action to protect Nabal from harm.  Ultimately, the Lord protected her from this man by striking him down, and allowed her to be favored by David, the future king of Israel.

David is portrayed in a very complimentary light.  He is definitely ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (Samuel 13:14).  His decisions are made with Adonai as his main focus.  And he comes across as handsome and charismatic – just as I am sure he was! 

I appreciate Jill helping to bring the people from the Bible into more vivid life and light.  It is always helpful to flesh out the stories so that they are more available for the current readers who may have little knowledge of daily life in the period of the Old Testament.  The characters in the book are three dimensional.  In addition to Abigail’s beauty and intelligence, Jill is not afraid to show her as being selfish and jealous at time.  And David, in addition to his charisma and battle acumen, has bouts of pride and lack of faith.  I am grateful that Jill adds dimension to Abigail and to David, while not adding to or detracting from Scripture.

I look forward to reading ‘Michal,’ which is in my collection.  The next book in the series will be entitled ‘Bathsheba,’ and will be released around February 2011.  There has been so much speculation on the motives of that wife of David; that will definitely be an interesting story!  The next series which Jill is working on will be the wives of the Patriarchs.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Smith recently (as we both live in southeast Michigan) at a book signing for ‘Abigail.’  Here’s a photo of the two of us, taken by her husband, Randy.  She is a sweet and interesting lady!

This book was provided to me by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for review purposes.

2 comments:

Christy--Southern Sassy Girl said...

What a great review, Andrea! I hope you get the chance to read "Michal" soon. It's very different from "Abigail" simply because their personalities are as different as night and day, but it's a very good read. :o)

I can't wait to read the next one about Bathsheba!

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Christy -

Thanks for the kind words and the scoop on 'Michal'! And, like you, I look forward to 'Bathsheba' with great expectation!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, also!

Blessings -

Andrea

 
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