One of the books on Wednesday’s “new release” list was Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith. Jill and I both post over at the Favorite PASTimes blog, which I’ll admit is part of the reason I read her first book last year (Michal). But I’ve also always loved the story of David and was intrigued by the idea of showing his world through his wives’ eyes. And I can promise you I wasn’t disappointed — I started reading Abigail over the weekend, finished it a couple of days later, and loved every page along the way.
It’s hard to write a good first novel, and even harder to write a good sequel or series. Fortunately, Michal and Abigail both deliver exactly what I’d hoped.
Abigail is the second book in the Wives of King David series; I really enjoyed Michal (otherwise, I wouldn’t have wanted to read Abigail). The good news is, I enjoyed Abigail even more.
Smith has grown as a writer from one book to the next. The descriptions seemed more vivid, the story seemed to move along even quicker (which is something I need to work on in my own stories). But what I loved most is how the characters came to life.
Abigail is one of those people from Scripture who we don’t know much about because only a few verses mention her. We know that she had a cruel husband named Nabal who did something foolish and angered David. We know that Abigail used her head and literally stopped David on his way to exact retribution and appeased him. We know that later, after Nabal died, Abigail became David’s wife.
Some Biblical fiction tells stories of made-up characters and situations. Those are enjoyable, but I love how this series lifts real people from the pages of Scripture and breathes new life into them. They’re not just figures in a Sunday school story anymore – they’re people with emotions and goals and personalities of their own. And although we’ll never know all the details of their lives, Abigail and the other characters were very real and believable to me. Smith portrays Abigail as a strong, intelligent, practical woman who loved God and did her best to follow His ways. But she wasn’t perfect by any means – she sometimes had trouble curbing her tongue, she struggled with guilt over several things in the story, and she had to learn to be content in the circumstances of both her marriages (first in an overbearing, abusive relationship with Nabal and then as a woman passionately in love who had to share David with his other wives).
I could relate to Abigail on many levels – there are just some things about being a woman that cross time and distance with ease. There are just enough details to make things realistic without burdening you with research; there’s enough drama and angst to keep things interesting. The book swept me right into Abigail’s world and by the time I finished reading I felt like I’d been privy to the ins and outs of ancient Jewish society.
If you want to learn more, check out Jill Eileen Smith’s blog and the website for her Wives of King David series. Or, even better, hop over to get your own copy. (If you do read Abigail, I’d love to hear from you – come back and leave a comment about what you thought. Or if you’ve read some other great Biblical fiction lately, let me know about that too!)