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Friday, April 23, 2010

Michal by Jill Eileen Smith

She's in love with her father's worst enemy, but so is her sister. David returns her love, but the kingdom is unstable, and there is talk of him stealing the crown. Not only is she in love with him, but Michal does not want to become destitute if he does. Through deception and scheming, Michal finally gets her way with David, but at a price. By doing this, she subjects herself to an undesirable life, because her husband is a wanted man. Her love is torn away, replaced, and then reunited at a cost all because of her selfish choices. Now she wishes she had listened to the voice of Yahweh years before...

It's refreshing for an author to choose such an underused and under told Biblical story. Looking at a prominent Bible character through the eyes of another is certainly refreshing, yet Jill Eileen Smith colored outside the lines on some accounts. In the end, the book ends in the correct way, but not after a rocky start.

The characters are slow in developing, but eventually reach the point of personality, perhaps too late. For characters to be successful they must be developed from the start, though not too obviously. Michael is definitely an imperfect character from the start, as she was portrayed in the Bible, and slowly develops personality. At first, it looked like David was going to look like a saint, but Jill turned that car around before it could reach its destination. Often, authors portray such popular characters as perfect when they really were far from such an honor. Considering the fact that this book took ten years for her to finish, one can see why the characters are developed in this fashion. Jill will need to work on her characters in the future for sure.

Jill perhaps did too much skipping around in history, hitting on high points of David's story that Michal was probably not even part of. It would have been better if Jill had kept the story in one place for longer than she did, then perhaps Michal would have been a better character. Michal needed to be a first person character, and a first person account would have perhaps limited Jill's scope of writing. As it was, she tried to show the reader the highlights of David's life sort of through Michal eyes, rather than leave some of it for the reader to fill in by reading the Bible for themselves. Jill said she wanted to do this with this book, but I'm afraid she failed in her endeavour.

The best thing about the end of the book is that while Jill had the creative licence to fix something no one knows the answer to, she refrained and chose a realistic end rather than a plastic end. Once she reached the point at which the Bible tells no more about Michal daughter of Saul, Jill could have fixed something no one could have faulted her on for lack of information, but she did not. This shows how much potential she has as an author and that she is willing to try to be realistic.

I look forward to what Jill Eileen Smith will do in the future of her writing career. I presume she will continue to write books concerning Biblical women, since she has expressed interest in this subject. She may not need to leave these guidelines.

4 stars

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