I have always loved Biblical fiction and the way the authors who write it give a different perspective on the events recorded in the Scriptures. So when I was given the opportunity to read this book, of course, I accepted.
The Heart of a King: The Loves of Solomon
by Jill Eileen Smith
Published by Revell
Publication Date April 30, 2019
Genres: Biblical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
Setting: Israel 1000 - 732 BC
Written for: Adults
King Solomon was wealthy and wise beyond measure. He could--and did--have anything he wanted, including many women from many lands. But for all his wisdom, did he or the women in his life ever find what they searched for all of their lives?
In this engrossing novel, you'll find yourself whisked away to ancient Israel, where you'll meet Solomon and four of the women he loved: Naamah the desert princess, Abishag the shepherdess, Siti the daughter of a pharaoh, and Nicaula the queen of Sheba. As you experience the world of Solomon through his eyes and the eyes of these women, you'll ask yourself the ultimate question: Did Solomon's wisdom ultimately benefit him and those he loved . . . or did it betray them?
I would like to thank Jill Eileen Smith, Netgalley, Revell for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
The Heart of a King is a fascinating look at what it might have been like to be one of Solomon’s wives. Beginning with Naamah, the mother of Rehoboam, and ending with the Queen of Sheba, each women’s thoughts and motivations are examined.
The author speculated as to which woman Solomon married first and chose Naamah for this distinction. Seeing her perspective as the first wife – how she would have reacted in finding out that Solomon was to marry again. And again. And again. Ouch!
My favorite aspect of the story is the way the author pulled so in much of the Old Testament. I loved Solomon and David’s excitement as they planned the temple and the descriptions of the temple and the sacrifices once it was built. Bits of wisdom from Proverbs and portions of the Song of Solomon were sprinkled through the book as were portions of Ecclesiastes. This was done quite well.
Solomon’s character as shown in the book was quite multifaceted. He sought to follow God and showed a deep love and concern for following His ways – at first. Though in some ways he appeared strong – in his rulings – he also seemed quite insecure and unsure of the right actions to take, especially after the death of his mother. His portrayal was a bit smarmy in the way he related to the women. Then again, this is probably the way it really was. Seeing his alleged reason for taking on all his wives was quite thought-provoking.
Each wife portrayed had a different personality and experience with Solomon, as would be expected. Seeing things from the viewpoint of his Egyptian wife was interesting, especially considering she is the one who had a palace built for her outside Jerusalem. As a result, we learned the author’s speculation on how this came about to be mentioned in the Bible. While I didn’t much like the personalities of the women, I very much enjoyed their stories.
The subject matter here is a little mature, in my opinion, for younger teens. While entirely clean, there are numerous preludes to lights-out liaisons.