Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love, for each other, for their God, and for his tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.
Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband's new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah's cruelty count for nothing? Why does God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?
Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.
Smith (Daughters of the Promised Land) reimagines the biblical story of Hannah, the prayerful mother of prophet and judge Samuel, with expert attention to historical and cultural detail, as well as emotional sensitivity to the plight of a childless wife of that time. Hannah has found a gem of a husband, Elkanah, who dotes on her despite her barrenness. When he is convinced to marry a second wife, Peninnah, she soon bears children and provokes Hannah mercilessly, and the entire household suffers. Years of social rejection, spiritual despair, and emotional suffering culminate in Hannah's vow to dedicate her firstborn son, if she should somehow conceive, to God's service; Samuel is subsequently born after Eli blesses her at the temple of Shiloh. Returning home with the boy, Hannah is declared a prophetess, but Peninnah grows increasingly bitter as she views Elkanah's elation. While the bones of this story appear in the Bible, Smith's great feat lies in exploring the plausible emotional and spiritual journeys of Hannah, Elkanah, and Peninnah the grief and hopelessness of a barren wife, the bitter jealousy of the second wife who only wants to be loved, and the man caught in the middle. Readers will appreciate that Smith infuses this well-known story with emotional depth and a modern sensibility not typically seen in historical novels.
Brings the bible to life!
The two main women characters, Hannah and Peninnah, are so well written that I found myself fighting off feelings of depression as I read this wonderful book. Hannah’s story is covered in just a few verses in the bible. I can breeze through all of her difficulty in just a few seconds, get to her joy, and move on. The author has done a fantastic job of researching biblical times so that she could write a very believable story based on the short section we are given.
I was so burdened down with grief for all that Hannah was enduring at times that I simply had to put this book aside to let my own emotions settle down. Yet I also felt compelled by the depth of the story to return very quickly to progress through the book. I desperately wanted to see Hannah reach her time of rejoicing.
Jill Eileen Smith has an incredible gift and I’m thrilled that she uses it to bring the stories and characters of the bible to life.
I received a free copy of this book from the author. I have chosen to write this review to express my personal opinion.
Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*