Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rachel by Jill Eileen Smith - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Can true love overcome a legacy of betrayal?
Rachel wants nothing more than for her older half sister Leah to wed and move out of their household. Leah wishes her father would find a good man who would love her alone. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jacob is making his way to their home, trying to escape a past laced with deceit and find the future God has promised him.

But the past comes back to haunt Jacob when he finds himself on the receiving end of treachery. The man who wanted only one woman ends up with sisters who have never gotten along and now must spend the rest of their lives sharing a husband. In the power struggles that follow, only one woman will triumph . . . or will she?

Combining meticulous research with her own imaginings, bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith not only tells one of the most famous love stories of all time but will manage to surprise even those who think they know the story inside and out.

My Thoughts:
Perhaps we would not recognize the blessings we have if not for the pain we face along the way.”        (p. 270)

I understand that these are words that Jacob didn’t actually utter to Rachel in the Biblical account, but this sums up the realities they have faced when these words are uttered.  Rachel’s story is not an easy one, and I think I can say with certainty that Leah and Jacob face equally challenging roles.  Their story is one that accurately and painfully displays the deepest longings of the human heart in the area of relationships.  The deceit perpetrated upon Jacob sets the tone for the next several years.  By the time meaningful relationships begin to form, time has shifted again, and new challenges must be faced.

I had forgotten many of the fine details of this story.  Jill Eileen Smith is a master craftsman when it comes to the fictional retelling of Biblical characters’ lives.  She recreates the social structure in such a realistic way the reader becomes fully vested in the lives of each character  - both good and bad.  She creates a place that allows the reader to examine all aspects of the relationships portrayed and begin to feel the emotional turmoil that inundates their lives. 

Rachel’s story is heartbreaking much of the time, but I have to say I fully understood her impatience with God’s delayed answer to her prayers.  If I am honest, if I had to watch my sister bear children with the man I loved while I remained barren year after year, I don’t know that I would have handled things any better that Rachel.  I truly can’t imagine the heartbreak!  And yet, Leah’s heartbreak was no less gut-wrenching to witness.  This is a story that really makes you examine your heart’s motive.

Jill Eileen Smith’s story sent me in a hungry search for my Bible.  I think that is what all well-told Biblical fiction should do.  I have been made to ponder the motives of my own heart before God.  I am deeply grateful to Jill Eileen Smith for her fantastic novel!!

About the Author:

Jill Eileen Smith is the author of Sarai, Rebekah, and Rachel, all part of the Wives of the Patriarchs series and best-selling author of the Wives of King David series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

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