Title: Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty
Author: Angela Hunt
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Copyright: August 25, 2015
Format: Paperback, 386 Pages
Genres: Religious Fiction, Christian Fiction, Biblical Fiction
A Vivid and Moving Portrait of a Reluctant Queen
After sending his army to besiege another king’s capital, King David forces himself on Bathsheba, a loyal soldier’s wife. When her resulting pregnancy forces the king to murder her husband and add her to his harem, Bathsheba struggles to protect her son while dealing with the effects of a dark prophecy and deadly curse on the king’s household.
Combining historical facts with detailed fiction, Angela Hunt paints a realistic portrait of the beautiful woman who struggled to survive the dire results of divine judgment on a king with a divided heart.
Bathsheba is an ill-fated biblical figure who has always fascinated me. When I happened upon Angela Hunt’s “Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty,” I was immediately intrigued and decided to give it a try.
“Bathsheba” tells the events of the book of 2 Samuel (David’s lusting after Bathsheba and murdering her husband, Uriah the Hittite) through the eyes of the eponymous character and the prophet, Nathan. Ms. Hunt’s clever juxtaposition of Bathsheba and Nathan’s points-of-view gives the biblical narrative a fresh perspective. Through Bathsheba’s eyes, we are able to see what it was like to live as a Jewish woman in the ancient world and to experience the dangerous realm of King David’s royal harem. By interpreting events also through Nathan’s eyes, Ms. Hunt portrays the often-nebulous relationship between HaShem and His prophets, and the occurrences that women were not always privy to.
Since this is a retelling of an ancient, biblical tale, the plot is largely familiar to readers. There were few actual plot twists and I would not say that this book was by any means exciting. It did keep my interest for the most part. The overall pacing was steady but this novel was slow at intervals. I did grow bored at times and skimmed pages.
I found the prose gorgeous, sometimes even lyrical and poetic. The wording was a touch too modern for my taste and it was difficult to envision the prose as biblical or even ancient. Perhaps this was not the author’s aim but this is something that occurred to me as I read. The dialogue was engaging and believable.
While I enjoyed the characters, I had difficulty connecting with Ms. Hunt’s Bathsheba. I was interested with the concept of Bathsheba as a “tob” or desirable woman but, as I read on, I felt like this was her only defining feature. Numerous times I asked myself: “What other qualities does Bathsheba even have?” Like many women of her time, she is dignified and has a great sense of propriety. She also proves herself to be a peaceful person, a loyal wife, and a loving mother to her brood of princes. These are perhaps her greatest qualities and strengths that I most admired about her. I found her to be a very human and realistic protagonist but largely unremarkable.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I would read Ms. Hunt’s novels in the future. 3.5 Stars.