Fascinating and Challenging Biblical Fiction from Jill Eileen Smith

I always enjoy Jill Eileen Smith’s Biblical fiction. Each story transports us to ancient times, allowing us to see and experience history through the eyes of characters from the Bible. Her newest release from Revell is unique in that portions of the story were previously published as novella-style e-books, but have now for the first time been reworked and included together in a single, interwoven novel. “The Heart of a King: The Loves of Solomon” tells the stories of King Solomon and four of his wives: Naamah, Abishag, Siti, and Nicaula. As we are swept away by the powerful story, we inevitably are challenged to answer the question of “whether this king’s storied wisdom ultimately benefited him and those he loved . . . or betrayed them.”

“The Heart of a King” was many things, but it was not a light or easy read. It was difficult to witness the many relationships Solomon maintained with his women. And yet, the story was also fascinatingly thought-provoking in light of God’s gift of unmatched wisdom to this king – and the choices he made because of it. As Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, says to one of her daughters-in-law, “I fear that he worships the gift over the giver. And he sees himself as too wise to do wrong, for he believes his wisdom will stop him. Someday he will find he is wrong. But neither you nor I can tell him so.”

At first glance I found many of the characters in this story, Solomon and several of his wives included, to be very selfish. . . And yet if we remove the setting and time difference between then and now, I think we discover that the human heart has changed very little over the centuries. I was challenged by this book in ways I certainly was not expecting, and even though it wasn’t the most pleasant novel to read I am so glad I did. Even though I am completely aware that many of the emotions and descriptions written in this story are entirely fictitious, it still gave me new insight and inspired deeper thought about the legendary King Solomon.

I received this book courtesy of Revell Publishing, in participation with a Revell Reads Blog Tour.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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