It’s that time again! Today we have post #2 for the February Blog Tour, courtesy of the fine people over at Graf-Martin Communications Inc. and Baker/Revell books.
This month I have 3 books to share with you, all very different from each other: one book I thought I would enjoy and didn’t (see Tuesday’s post), one book I thought might be decent and was (that’s today!), and one book I initially wasn’t sure about but LOVED. Of course, we’re going to save the best for last, so come back tomorrow for the third and final stop on the February Blog Tour.
Today we have historical fiction…
Abigail (Wives of King David, #2) – Jill Eileen Smith
Synopsis (from the promo materials):
Her days marked by turmoil and faded dreams, Abigail has resigned herself to a life with a man she does not love. But when circumstances offer her a second chance at happiness with the handsome David, she takes a leap of faith to join his wandering tribe. Still, her struggles are far from over. How can she share his love with the other women he insists on marrying?
Abigail follows the bestselling Michal and continues Jill Eileen Smith’s rich story of David’s wives.
Once again, this was the second book in a series for which I hadn’t read the first book… but in this case, it didn’t really matter. You can read this one as a stand-alone because, quite simply, it’s Biblical Fiction. If you know the story of King David (or even if you don’t, really), the book can stand alone because it focuses on a different part of David’s life.
That said, I expected the book to be decent and readable, and it was. Smith is authoritative in her writing, and does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of this historical period. She has a lot of detail to work with (head on over to Ye Olde Bible and have a read of the original story!) and manages to convey both character and story in a way that’s true to the Scriptures but new enough to compel the reader to keep reading.
The unfortunate side of things for me is that I recently took several Seminary classes on the Old Testament/Pentateuch, so the material was too fresh in my mind to be able to really enjoy the book the way I think I might have, had I not been quite as familiar with the storyline. Mind you, even if you’re really familiar with the story of David and his wives, but enjoy historical fiction of this variety (“Biblical fiction” , in other words), Abigail would be a good choice. If you want, head out and grab Michal and start there, as I’m sure it’s just as compelling as this book (if not moreso… I was always more curious about Michal, so I’m interested in seeing how Smith approaches her story… yes, that means I’ll probably read it in the near future).
My primary complaint is that a significant amount of time was spent telling the story from David’s point of view. I know that it’s important to have multiple POVs if you’re writing in third person (another note: I would be very interested in seeing this tackled from Abigail’s first person perspective, but I suspect that can get tricky with Biblical fiction as people are nervous about diving into someone’s brain and adding thoughts when there isn’t clear Scriptural evidence for certain attitudes, etc.), but I found that having so much narrative from David’s POV cluttered up the story and weakened it at points.
Yes, there probably isn’t enough material to write just about Abigail, and yes, I know that David’s story isn’t complete without his side of things (after all, he’s the central figure in the original account) but the story is called Abigail in a series about the Wives of King David. I would have liked to see more about her daily routine, her interactions with other women, that sort of thing. Yes, I know David feels guilty, but why do we need to see him every second chapter? We know his story. We’ve read it in the Bible. What we want to see now is the women’s side of things! Isn’t that why you’d pick up a book with this kind of title?
I realize there are likely fears about diving too much into the speculative aspect of things, especially when dealing with historical characters, but I think we have more than enough information about this time period to be able to derive some kind of thesis as to how the women spent their days and probably how they felt about each other.
Abigail is a well written, highly readable book. I didn’t love it, but that was purely my own fault due to my closeness with the material — but I liked it, and recommend it to others. If you enjoy historical fiction, this is a good choice, and it’s the kind of thing you can pass on to a non-Christian friend very easily. I don’t think you have to be a Christian to enjoy this book (due to the time period & the author’s approach to the story) and I think it would make a great study group choice — the kind of thing you could use to complement a study of David’s story in the Scriptures. There’s lots to talk about and muse over… I just wish that we saw a bit more of the women’s side of things, in the end.
Interested? Here’s a little excerpt for you to try out and see if you might like it!
Available now from your favorite bookseller from Revell,
a division of Baker Publishing Group.