Romance, sibling rivalry, battles, betrayals and a touch of insanity bring the early years of King David to life in this compelling novel. Fifteen-year-old Michal, daughter of King Saul, dreads her father’s unpredictable bouts of rage. The one person who can calm him is the same person who ignites her passion.
David’s exceptional harp-playing skills are matched only by his beautiful voice as his worship songs calm the raging king. But too soon, Saul sees David in a different light, that of an enemy. Still, he must publicly honor the one who slew Goliath, and makes David a captain as well as a son-in-law. Michal succeeds in marrying the man of her dreams, but will it cost her everything?
Michal’s happy marriage to David is short-lived, as Saul’s hatred for David intensifies. Two failed attacks on David’s life are enough to make Saul’s intentions painfully clear. With Michal’s help, David escapes before the guards can seize him, but Michal is left behind, anxiously awaiting the day she and David will reunite. She never could have imagined that day would not come for 17 years. In the meantime, David’s power and popularity increase as the complete opposite is happening to Saul. The King annuls Michal’s marriage against her will and marries her off to one of his favored guards.
As David’s conquests and alliances continue to spread, Michal’s world comes crashing down around her. Sure that David would return to reclaim her as his wife, she is bitter and heartbroken when that does not take place. She is subject to a father who is unpredictably moody and violent, married to a man she doesn’t love and unable to bear children. To make matters worse, her princess life of palace opulence has disappeared like the man she loved.
David’s advancing army causes Saul’s family to flee their palatial home. As time goes on, Michal finds herself sewing and baking like a commoner. Many of her family members die, including her sister during childbirth, leaving five sons. By the time David sends for Michal, her heart bears many scars. Michal’s life takes another dramatic turn as she is taken to David, only to find she is now part of a harem rather than his one and only. Another wound opens in her heart.
David’s power increases, his kingdom expands, and all the while his faith and love for the Lord intensifies. He seeks to please God, serve others and immerse himself in heartfelt worship. As a result, God pours out blessings on him. But Michal does not have the Lord in her hardening heart. Her words and actions toward David result in losing his affections, as well as her status among the wives. Broken and miserable, Michal finally turns to the only One who can release her from her sin and heal her heart.
Jill Eileen Smith’s debut novel was many years in the making but well worth the wait. She immerses the reader in Old Testament life, transporting you back over 2,000 years to the reigns of King Saul and King David. Years of research are woven seamlessly throughout the historic and Biblical details of this compelling novel. But the icing on the cake is the story itself, which never lacks for action and emotion. It’s all packaged neatly with three-dimensional characters, believable dialogue and excellent imagery. Readers of MICHAL will surely look forward to the second and third books in the series, ABIGAIL and BATHSHEBA.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on March 1, 2009