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May 24, 2013

David and Bathsheba by Roberta Kells Dorr

The love story that rocked a kingdom

David and Bathseba (Song of Solomon #1) by Roberta Kells Dorr
Biblical fiction
Moody Publishers | River North; New Edition, June 2013
Paperback 320 pages
Review copy provided via publisher on NetGalley, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

David and Bathsheba is a spellbinding story of a gifted king and the woman he loved but could not have. Told from Bathsheba’s perspective, author Roberta Kells Dorr bring to life the passion that almost cost David his kingdom and tested a people’s courage and faith in God. “David and Bathsheba” is colored richly with details of Bible-era Israel – from the details of the everyday way of life to details of the Jewish religion. Dorr brilliantly merges reality with folklore as she tells the story of two great characters of the biblical era. The book starts out with Bathsheba as a young girl and David as a strong willed rebellious military leader. It details the way they meet and follows them all the way through their difficulties.

Readers of the bible would recognize the story of King David slayer of giants and how he became acquainted with Bathsheba. It was one of those times that upon reading the Bible I was a bit disgusted at how such a revered man behaved regarding women. Despite that, there is a new interest for me to read biblical novels since I am now through with reading the bible cover to cover for the first time.

Even though the synopsis states this is Bathsheba's point of view, that is not completely true. It is an omniscient narrator that offers a view from many angles, including David's new advisor Ahithopel who is Bathsheba's grandfather. Ahithopel is first portrayed as a wise and logical man, and has the best interests of his family at heart, especially since Bathsheba has lost her father during one of the many religious battles.We also get David's point of view, and his tumultuous relationship with Michal who was Saul's daughter.

There are quite a few battles in the Old Testament, and the one that brings the story of David to life is the victorious battle in Urusalim. Here we also meet Uri, who Ahithopel wants the young Bathsheba to marry. Bathsheba has little say in the matter, and is forced to marry Uri the Hittite whom readers of the bible would recognize as Uriah. There is turmoil during this marriage, and we know eventually that David will see Bathsheba bathing, and the rest is history.

The story of the bible is fleshed out, with views of a few sides. The many wives of David, the family of Bathsheba, and the sons of David all play a part in the story. I felt the central mover and shaker was actually Ahithopel, as it was at his will that major things occurred. While the events of Bathsheba's life are the key events, do not expect to just get her side of the story, because in the end you'll get a full sense of the restless era that contains David and the sad story of his sons Absalom and Amnon, with the hope of righteousness finally settling on young Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba.

As a reissue from 1980 I was not overly passionate about it at first. Its tone was a bit too matter-of-fact as it offered interesting background information to Bathsheba's family as a child. Towards the latter of the novel I became more entrenched in the story while the author filled in the voids from what we know from David and Bathsheba's lives from the bible. Both the historical details of Israel and the biblical sense were very well presented and I would recommend it to those who have not already read David and Bathsheba's fictionalized story yet.

From what I can tell Solomon's Song was written as a sequel, but I can't tell if that is being reissued yet. Queen of Sheba is being reissued a month after this one, but I would prefer to read the story of Solomon. It is a testament to the good writing of Roberta Kells Dorr that I am already eager to read that story.