Jill Eileen Smith's first book in The Wives of King David
series has made me a follower. Michal
, not only made me a fan of Smith, but made it easy for me to decide what to read next in the Bible. I want to reread the history of King Saul, David, and Michal; therefore, I've started 1 Samuel again. As far as Biblical fiction is concerned, I believe the ultimate goal is turning readers back to God's Word. Smith stayed true to the Biblical account in her novel, while adding both emotional and historical insights.
The book covers a large time span: from when Michal is a young girl with a crush on her daddy's harpist, through their marriage and separation, to David finally becoming king. What I liked most in the narrative was the clearly portrayed interlacing relationships. Michal was Saul's daughter, David's first wife, Jonathan's sister, Paltiel's wife, a woman in David's harem, and she lost most of her family. First, David was a shepherd, Saul's harpist, and Jonathan's friend. Then he was the commander of Saul's army and national war hero. After that he was Saul's enemy and on the run. He lost many he loved as well. Finally he was king of Judah and all of Israel.
The changing relationships and varying emotions within and between the characters was intriguing and raised my awareness to the complexity of these peoples' lives. Michal had two husbands. David had multiple wives. Jonathan was David's friend and Saul's son. David was first given a position of honor by the king, then a death sentence. Smith shows great empathy in her writing, and I believe a major strength of the book is her portrayal of emotion in both the characters and relationships, and in specific situations. She does not explain everything, but as this is a fictionalized account of true events and people, I enjoyed the added questions the narrative raised as to what these people really went through. For example: How did Michal feel when her father ordered David killed or when David was gone for so long and she had to take another husband? What turmoil did she experience when she was separated from her second husband and returned to her first, now only to be one of David's many wives?
(slight SPOILER ALERT)...My favorite part of Smith's retelling was the development of Michal's faith in the end and the demonstration of strength in silent witnessing. David's love for God was evident to Michal and that caused her to look at her own relationship with Yahweh. I actually hope that part really did turn out the way Smith wrote it! I enjoyed Michal and I look forward to reading both Abigal and The Wives of the Patriarchs that Smith has planned next!