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Mar 21, 2014

Abraham and Sarah by Roberta Kells Dorr

A well-known biblical story is brought to vivid life

Abraham and Sarah by Roberta Kells Dorr
Moody Publishers; March 2014 reissue; originally pub 1995
$9.99 pb 272pp; 9780802409577
Review copy provided by the publisher for review in the February 2014 Historical Novel Society magazine
Burton Book Review Rating: 3.5 Stars

A splendid exploration of faith against great odds and love that endures years of disappointment.
Abraham and Sarah is a masterful historical drama from the moment that Abraham strides into the pagan temple to rescue Sarah. The couple set out in search of the blessings God had promised: abundant fertile land and decedents more plentiful than the stars.
But years of wandering bring the couple to Egypt where once again Abraham convinces Sarah that as sister and brother surely they will pass safely through the territory. But Pharaoh takes Sarah into his harem where she befriends Pharaoh's daughter, Hagar. Together the three are ordered to leave.
Years of barrenness have embittered Sarah and she hatches a plan: Hagar must become the vessel for the child God has promised. Ishmael is born to Hagar and so is jealousy born in Sarah's heart. But God had a plan and He was right all along. This miracle unfolds with Historical authenticity leaving the reader with a better understanding of the ancient world and the life-changing faith of Abraham and Sarah.

In this biblical novel featuring the first patriarch and matriarch Abraham and Sarah the author glazes through the accepted storyline in Genesis but fills in the blanks with skillful storytelling. Beginning with Abram's family with Sarai as his half-sister we follow the events in the character's lives as they marry and travel throughout the Holy Land.

With a supporting cast of characters such as Lot and his wife Mara, Hagar the Egyptian who becomes the mother of Abraham's son Ishmael, readers of the Bible will appreciate the novelization as it adds more context to the actual events depicted in Genesis. The best feature of this story were the characters as Dorr has portrayed them: selfish, jealous, envious and overall flawed. Hope and redemption comes along later but the the dramatic events beforehand helps one to appreciate the plights of our religious ancestors.

Readers looking for an obvious connection to God will be disappointed in the first half as it takes a while for Abraham's destiny to take shape. It is a mix of examination of beliefs of various gods vs. Abraham's God the Elohim who does start to take shape in the latter half. The author portrays her biblical knowledge well in all her novels, and this was no exception. The slight variations to the Bible were intriguing and well done and came across as a bit more realistic. Recommended for biblical fiction lovers.