It’s been kinda fun this month teaching the girls about history while reading a historical fiction novel. Some of the details that have come up in our history textbooks have made me appreciate the depth of research Angela Hunt puts into all of her novels but especially into her Dangerous Beauty series. Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty is the second novel in the series and was everything that I expect an Angela Hunt novel to be.
“The first time I saw King David, I was sixteen and he was behaving like a man possessed.”
That is one of the best opening lines I’ve ever read for a novel. Right away I knew to what event Bathsheba was referring—and had a glimpse into her character as well. From that memory of the king, she moves to her current preparations for her wedding to a handsome soldier named Uriah. She also shares about the prophecy made at her presentation as a baby and how her father has put off her betrothal until he can find a man he feels is special enough for his especially beautiful daughter.
Bathsheba and Uriah set up housekeeping in the shadow of King David’s palace. Their first year together is blissfully happy, as Uriah is given a break from his duties as a soldier to spend time with his new wife. The only thing that breaks their happiness is Bathsheba’s inability to conceive. Then Uriah returns to war… and his wife catches King David’s attention, as most of us know from the Old Testament account.
Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty moves back and forth between Bathsheba’s perspective and Nathan the prophet’s. Whether he’s seeing events unfold in King David’s court or in the visions Adonai sends him, Nathan provides a glimpse into the politics that broil around Bathsheba. While Bathsheba is confined to the palace harem, Nathan moves among the people, warning Bathsheba about outside events that will affect her—and her son Solomon, to whom David and Adonai have promised the throne.
While I knew the details of Bathsheba’s story well, I found Angela’s retelling of this story fascinating. She brings alive the Biblical world of King David’s time, with all its traditions that might seem strange or puzzling to us (like why a woman would be bathing outside in a courtyard where a king could see her). In an afterword, Angela mentions some of the prejudices often directed at Bathsheba, but I found her to be a likable, sympathetic young woman caught in circumstances beyond her control.