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Book Review: Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith

The story of Abigail is one of my favourite stories in the Bible—one of those tiny stories tucked away in the Old Testament, a brief mention of a courageous woman who made a difference and then faded away into obscurity again. In the second book of her Wives of King David series, author Jill Eileen Smith delves into Abigail’s life and times, bringing this faraway woman to life again for modern readers.

Abigail is pledged in marriage to Nabal as a way to pay off her father’s long-standing debt to Nabal’s father. Rumours are already circulating that Nabal isn’t quite the man she’d want for a husband, but it’s too late to back out. When her wedding day proves a huge disappointment, and her life with Nabal afterwards is hardly better, Abigal wonders how to cope. Her faith in Adonai pulls her through the dark days of trying to be a faithful wife to a drunk, capricious man.

Then David shows up in her life. Her parents and brother have already run to David to escape servitude to Nabal. Along with David’s men, they keep an eye on Nabal’s flocks and servants, protecting him from bandits. So when David needs supplies for his men, he expects the favour to be returned. Instead, Nabal, an ardent supporter of King Saul, insults David. It’s then up to Abigail to use all her wisdom to spare Nabal’s servants from David’s wrath.

Jill’s research into Biblical times brought alive the little traditions and everyday actions that Abigail would have been involved in. She made me think about things I hadn’t considered before, such as what it would have been like for Abigail to be David’s second wife—but not his last. Jill also weaves David’s Psalms into the story, in David’s thoughts and prayers as he makes tough decisions and in the events that affect his life.

Jill brought to life some major and minor characters from the Bible. I would have liked to see her stick to one or two narrators—just Abigail and David, perhaps—instead of several narrators. Obviously, a work of Biblical fiction is a great deal of the author’s imagination, filling in the blanks between the details given in Scripture, and Jill did a good job that for Abigail.

This book was provided for review courtesy of the publisher and/or publicist.

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