Sarai (Wives of the Patriarchs Series #1)

Sarai (Wives of the Patriarchs Series #1)

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by Jill Eileen Smith

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Sarai, the last child of her aged father, is beautiful, spoiled, and used to getting her own way. Even as a young girl, she is aware of the way men look at her, including her half brother Abram. When Abram finally requests Sarai's hand, she asks one thing—that he promise never to take another wife as long as she lives. Even her father thinks the demand is

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Sarai, the last child of her aged father, is beautiful, spoiled, and used to getting her own way. Even as a young girl, she is aware of the way men look at her, including her half brother Abram. When Abram finally requests Sarai's hand, she asks one thing—that he promise never to take another wife as long as she lives. Even her father thinks the demand is restrictive and agrees to the union only if Sarai makes a promise in return—to give Abram a son and heir. Certain she can easily do that, Sarai agrees.

But as the years stretch on and Sarai's womb remains empty, she becomes desperate to fulfill her end of the bargain—lest Abram decide that he will not fulfill his. To what lengths will Sarai go in her quest to bear a son? And how long will Abram's patience last?

Jill Eileen Smith thrilled readers with The Wives of King David series. Now she brings to life the strong and celebrated wives of the patriarchs, beginning with the beautiful and inscrutable Sarai.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following the successful Wives of King David series, Smith opens her new Wives of the Patriarchs series with this midrashic expansion of the story of Abraham and his wife, Sarah. In the biblical account, Sarah gives birth in her old age to Isaac, as God has promised her husband, Abraham, whose descendants will be as numerous as stars. In this account, the beautiful Sarai, as she is first called, deeply loves her husband and follows him when his Lord calls, even as she waits for decades for the promised child and endures a dangerous passage to Egypt that produces a threat to her marriage in the form of her maid Hagar. Smith is at her best in handling the triangulated relationship between Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar; the subplot involving Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family is less emotionally compelling. The pace occasionally drags, but most of the book is about faithful waiting. Smith breathes new imaginative life into a well-known sacred story. Agent: Wendy Lawton. (Mar.)

Product Details

Baker Publishing Group
Publication date:
Wives of the Patriarchs Series, #1
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Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

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A Novel
By Jill Eileen Smith

Baker Publishing Group

Copyright © 2012 Jill Eileen Smith
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8007-3429-9

Chapter One

Fifteen Years Later

Sarai looked up at the great ziggurat of Nannar and took a step backward, overwhelmed as she always was at the enormity of the temple to Ur's patron god. The steps rising upward, forever upward, drew her gaze to the triangular peak, its god's-eye view gazing down at her, watching. She shivered, certain the feeling came from more than the soft breeze blowing down from the north.

Abram would not approve of her being here. Even protected by her male slaves and accompanied by her maid, Lila, her niece Melah, and her servants, Abram would still consider Ur unsafe for his beautiful wife. And if he knew her reason ...

Why had she come?

"Did you bring the likeness?" Melah stopped on the cobbled street and turned to look at her. Her niece's face, still rosy with the freshness of youth yet well tanned by the sun, held a glint of excitement.

"It's here." Sarai patted the pouch at her side, tucked into the pocket of her robe. "But I still don't see what good this will do."

The image was carved of olive wood, a pregnant likeness of Sarai with crescent moons—symbols of the god—painted into the clothing designs. But could the gods really give Sarai the child she craved or the son Melah longed for—one who would live? While Abram's brother's sons lined his table like olive plants sprung up beneath an ancient flowering tree, Abram's own table stood quiet, empty.

Sarai would sacrifice her beauty to fill that void, to give Abram a son.

Melah frowned, crossed her arms over her chest. "It won't do any good at all if you don't believe, Sarai." Her gaze dropped to Sarai's flat stomach. "Obviously you need help."

"Obviously." She couldn't keep the sharpness or the sarcasm from her tone, especially in front of this upstart niece, or the pang of guilt and sadness from piercing her heart.

"Nevertheless, you should have done this years ago." Melah's patronizing tone made Sarai bristle. "You can't ask others to do the sacrificing and petitioning for you. The goddess wants your devotion. If you want a child, you must worship the mother goddess. For even Inana came by her fertile power through her mother Ningal. You've known this since childhood." Melah turned, then looked back again. "Of course, if you'd prefer Inana's fertility rites ..." She smirked as though the thought amused her, whether because she disdained Abram's faith or because she could not imagine Sarai submitting to Inana's sexual practices. Probably both, considering Melah's blatant interest in the love goddess and her impassioned ways.

Sarai lifted her chin and tilted her gaze away from Melah. She nodded to her slaves and continued around the ziggurat to the streets behind until she came upon the courtyard fencing in Ningal's temple. Columns stood on either side of the gate with steps leading to two great, sculpted doors, where bulls carved into the wood gave silent otherworldly protection to all who dwelled therein. Incense, the breath of the gods, burned spicy-sweet in tall sconces on either side of the doors, where real guards in bronze helmets and brass greaves held tall spears at attention. From their vantage point, they saw every movement in the courtyard.

Sarai stared at the scene, taking in the gleaming gilded columns. The dappled light made the bulls appear to move, their horns bent forward as though to strike. The temple seemed to pulse with its own breath, making Sarai's catch in her throat. Her sandals felt suddenly weighted, stuck to the stones like dried mud to baked bricks.

She shouldn't be here.

"Are you ready?"

Sarai slipped a hand over the image in her pocket and slowly turned to look at her niece, the wooden image burning the flesh of her palm as though heated by the sun's sharp rays. Had Ningal's son Utu come to block their path? The gods were always bickering over one thing or another. Perhaps the sun god did not want them to pay homage to his mother. And what if Melah was right? Inana was the goddess of love. Was she the one who could answer Sarai's prayers for a child? But the rituals involved ...

She shook her head, releasing her grip on the image and letting the pouch hang from the belt at her side. Never! She would not resort to such practices, even if she paid someone else to do them for her. Still, Ningal did not exact such a cost.

She looked at Melah. "I ..." She what? Words would not form. What did she want but a child? But was this the best way?

"I didn't come all this way to have you change your mind on me, Sarai. Do you want to keep your vow to Abram or not?" Melah flicked a gaze in Lila's direction. "Or perhaps you should just give him your maid and be done with it." Her scowl drew her narrow eyes into slits, making her forty-plus years look far older than Sarai did at twenty years her senior.

"Abram wouldn't hear of such a thing." She lifted her chin, but the action was more to put Melah in her place than to assert her confidence. If Abram knew where she stood right now, what she was about to do ... might he take another wife? She glanced at Lila, who had become more like a daughter than a maid to her. Abram would never agree to such a thing.

The sundial in the courtyard moved a notch, and Sarai glanced at the sky. Clouds skimmed the surface of blue, pushed along by the increasing breeze. She braced herself, her hand closing over the pouch with the image once more. She must act, one way or the other.

"Well?" Melah tapped an impatient foot, hands on her ample hips. "Do you have the coins? Are you going to do this, or did I waste my whole afternoon, not to mention the months it has taken to convince you I'm right?" She gave Sarai a pointed stare, then turned to walk toward the temple doors. Melah would offer a sacrifice whether Sarai did so or not, so the day really wasn't as wasted as she'd like Sarai to believe.

Sarai stifled a smile. Despite Melah's hasty marriage to Lot and the subsequent loss of their firstborn, Sarai had come to accept Melah, even carried some measure of affection for her, though she could be as ornery as a she-goat sometimes. Both Melah and Milcah believed in Ningal and Inana and worshiped frequently at one or both temples. Both women had borne children, though in Melah's case only one infant daughter still lived.

The breeze brought the scent of incense toward her, and the chant of worshipers clustered to her right broke into her thoughts, sealing her decision. She lifted the image from the pouch and stared at its pregnant likeness. Once she paid the hefty sacrifice—coins she had taken from the dowry her father had given her years before—the priestess would take the image, set it before the goddess, and offer prayers on her behalf until the new moon waned. Time enough and, hopefully, prayers enough to invoke the goddess's favor and grant her a son.

She drew in a slow breath, willing courage into her bones. She could do this. Her promise to Abram was at stake, and time was not in her favor. She had to do something, anything to procure a child. If that meant a sacrifice to the mother goddess, despite Abram's certain disapproval, she had to take the risk.

* * *

Abram scanned the distant copse of trees and brambles for some sign of Sarai's favorite ram, the one bent on straying despite Abram's attempts to teach it otherwise. Sarai would say the ram followed the same instinct born in men, and her piercing gaze would remind him of his youth and his own selfish ways. He scowled. Later he would chuckle over such thoughts, but now he was faced with the task of finding the animal.

Using his staff to guide his steps, he moved from beneath the shade of a spreading oak, speaking softly so as not to alarm the ewes still grazing nearby. On the hill opposite the meadow where his flock grazed, his nephew Lot played a melancholy tune on a reed flute, the sound carrying to Abram. He almost envied the younger man's ability, yet felt a measure of pride that his sheep knew his voice above all others, even the flat sounds of his tuneless singing. One young ewe in particular stayed close, like a daughter. He plucked at his beard and gave in to a rueful smile. Perhaps she was as tone-deaf as he.

The young ewe followed him now, and he waited a moment before picking his way forward again. When she reached his side, he picked her up and placed her over his shoulders. Clouds blocked the sun as he approached the ridge, and a sudden breeze cooled the skin on his face. An unexpected shiver worked through him as he neared the brambles, and he slowed, a feeling of uncertainty prickling the hairs on his arms. He squinted, raising a hand to his eyes, his grip tightening on his staff.

He stopped and listened, shifting the lamb's weight, then took several more cautious steps forward, at last spying the ram caught by its thick wool among the thorns, its pitiful cry touching Abram's heart. The sky darkened further, and a chill wind brushed his face. He glanced heavenward, a sense of foreboding filling him. There had been no sign of a storm that morning, but if one was upon them now, he had best make quick work of releasing the ram and hurry back to the rest of the flock, which would not know where to go to find shelter without his leading.

Spurred by this sudden urgency, he set the ewe on the ground near a patch of grass and pushed aside the brambles with his staff to get closer to the ram. "And how did you expect to get yourself out once you got into these thorns?" he asked the animal, gentling his voice above its bleating. Thorns gripped his robe, but he ignored the ripping sound of the fabric as he worked to disentangle the animal's wool. "There, there," he soothed. But the ram kicked and fought Abram's efforts, wedging himself in worse than before.

Sweat poured down Abram's back as he worked the hook of his staff under the animal's belly. The wind picked up, the air suddenly heavy and damp. His arms ached from the strain as he finally wrapped the hook of the staff around the animal's body well enough to wrench it free, briars and all.

When they were a few paces away, Abram knelt beside the ram and picked the last of the briars from his wool, then took the horn strapped to his side and poured oil over the scratches, rubbing it into the animal's skin. The ram stood still, apparently sufficiently chastised. Abram looked from the ram to the ewe. To mate the two would bring sturdy, unblemished offspring. No others in his flock could compare to these specimens of perfection, though he knew from experience that producing young would not change the ram's behavior.

Then again, would producing an heir change him?

His jaw tightened at the thought. It wasn't his fault Sarai had been barren all these years. They'd been the perfect couple from the start, though now, after years of her barrenness, his brother and nephew did not glance at Abram with the same hint of jealousy because of his beautiful wife. At least their wives had borne them sons, though Lot's had not lived long enough to tell of it.

He glanced at the two animals beside him, noting their suddenly rigid stance, the wary looks in their eyes. He looked at the sky, wondering at the change, at the unexpected stillness. Light now seeped from beneath the gray clouds, sending shafts of blazing white in all directions. The wind picked up again, the breeze stiff yet warm. Strange.

Definitely time to head back.

He dug his staff into the earth and pushed to his feet, ready to call the animals to follow, when a loud rumble like thunder made him pause. The clouds drew together as he watched, dark and heavy again. Fear tingled his spine.

He darted a look in all directions. Nothing moved. Even the wind had stilled, and Lot's flute no longer filled the silence. He glanced at the two animals, but they too had stilled, their heads bent to the grass but their mouths closed, unmoving.


A chill worked through him. He glanced around again, but there was no one in sight. Was he hearing things?


The voice, louder, more insistent, and powerful, reached into the pit of his soul, stirring deep fear inside of him. He sank to his knees and put his face to the dirt.

"Here I am," he choked out, his own voice weak in comparison.

"Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Abram shuddered at the words, unable to respond. Who are you? But he couldn't utter the question. Deep down, he knew exactly who spoke to him. Only Adonai Elohim, the Lord, the Mighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, could make a man tremble in fear at His voice. Only a mighty Creator could cause the breeze to still and make the sky ominous and foreboding. Only a great Creator could speak such words and make a man know they were truth.

I will do as You ask, he said in his heart, certain his voice would not hold the words steady. At his response, the breeze returned. Abram slowly lifted his head. The animals resumed nibbling the grasses as though nothing had happened. Abram pushed himself to his knees, shaking, but one glance around him told him nothing had changed. The threat of the storm had passed, and in its place an inviting landscape and sunny, cloudless skies greeted him.

Had he heard correctly? It had all happened so fast. But in his spirit, he knew. He must take Sarai and leave Ur and follow the Lord to wherever He might lead. Where would He lead them?

But Abram didn't need to know that yet. He needed only to obey.

He looked back at the two animals, perfect in body but opposite in spirit. One obedient and loyal, the other rebellious and wayward. He would not be like the rebellious ram. He would obey his Creator.

Which meant he would sacrifice all he had to do so—his family inheritance, his home, his relatives, his friends ... his best.

He stood, still unsteady, his gaze resting on the animals now looking at him with wide, trusting eyes. He must build an altar and make a burnt offering to the Lord. His heart constricted with his decision. One of them must die in the sacrifice.

* * *

Sarai shivered at the sudden shift in the breeze. Red dust coated the tanned leather of her sandals as she crossed further into the courtyard toward the imposing doors of the goddess's temple. Melah moved ahead of her to approach the guards who stood blocking the way. Sarai waited, motionless, as Melah dropped her coins into a wooden tithing box inlaid with shells and lapis lazuli set in crescent designs.

Behind Melah, her five serving girls bowed low, facing the temple but not moving to enter. Melah would not have paid their way, and few slaves could afford such a luxury as to enter the chambers of the gods. To Sarai's left, the sonorous chant of the Ningal singers' tuneless melody and the heady incense coming from the tall cones on either side of the ornate door nearly turned her stomach.

The gods of our people are idols, Sarai. There is only one Maker.

She whirled about, Abram's voice loud in her ear. But no. His words were a memory. She had heard them often enough to know better than to be here. She caught sight of her slaves still standing guard at her back, their faces somber, dark as flint. Abram's One God, El Echad, would not dwell in such temples built with human hands. Hadn't she watched the construction of the many projects the king had undertaken since her early childhood? Hundreds of men had slaved to build Nannar-Sin's giant ziggurat, and more besides to add palaces and temples to shadow its sprawling court. Would the One God need such a temple?

The breeze swirled about her in a sudden gust, lifting the filmy gauze and jewels from her headdress. She must not do this.

The carved image pressed heavily against her hip, and the precious coins from her dowry seemed suddenly too important to waste on such uncertainty. She closed her eyes, seeing Abram's disapproval, wanting desperately to please him. Would he take another wife as Melah had suggested?

Oh, but why could she not bear a child?

The familiar ache settled in her middle, and she wavered, staring up at the imposing temple to Ningal, wondering if the goddess truly had the power Melah had worked so hard to convince her of. If Sarai did not do this, if she did not ask, would she be throwing away her last chance? She'd been barren for so long. Did this goddess have the power to undo her past and make her whole before it was too late?


Excerpted from Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith Copyright © 2012 by Jill Eileen Smith. Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sarai 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable read although the story has added parts not in the Bible. The author gives you her interpretation of true accounts. I looked forward to reading this story and it did not let me down. I look forward to her other books.
LidaJ More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. Of course, the story of Abraham & Sarah has always been once of my favorite stories in the Bible. While reading you must keep in mind that Sarai, is a fictionalized version of the Bible story, yet it brings to life the emotions that Sarai and others might have been feeling, emotions that we would possibly feel if in the same situation. For me it opened my eyes to just how strong Abraham's faith was. It was amazing how he so easily recognized the Lord's presence and His voice. Sarai struggled to have the same faith, but Abraham was a strong example to her so that she had the stronger pull toward pleasing the Lord and her husband rather than the false God's of her neice. I will probably read this again.
onedesertrose More than 1 year ago
Jill amazes me with the in-depth insights in her Biblical historical novels. Sarai: A Novel is no different! Though this may be a familiar story from the Bible to many of you, Jill brings it to life through the depths of her characters and their interactions throughout the unfolding of their lives. From the introduction of idol worship, the call of Abram to Canaan, and the eventual settling in the land, we see the personal struggles, jealousies, regrets, greed, and anxieties of each character, particularly Abram, Sarai, Lot, Meleh, and Hagar. The nomadic lifestyle challenges their constitution, spiritual life, and their trust in God, having come from a more comfortable lifestyle. Jill is able to bring you into the story and let you experience the uncomfortable bedding, the ‘archaic’ method of cooking, the grit of the dust storms, the whispers of barrenness, the mocking of Hagar, and the fear of Pharaoh in Egypt. The inner thoughts and emotions of betrayal, rejection, barrenness, and grumbling are aptly described, making them personal to your own thought life. Repentance and forgiveness become a necessary component of the story, as well in our lives. Abram and Sarai’s faith in God’s promise to Abram is resonant and tested throughout the whole book. The relationship between Abram and Sarai is so intimate, and yet strained with the birth of Abram’s first son. The latter situation is one that I would find difficult to deal with. Sarai’s feelings came across loud and clear, and I doubt I’d feel much different! Only by the grace of God could one withstand such a predicament! Jill brought this ancient story into today’s world without compromising the Biblical rendering of the story. For a touching, revealing version of Abram and Sarai, this is the book to read! This book was provided by Donna Hausler, Publicity Assistant at Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.
sunnynurse More than 1 year ago
Outstanding book -- historically more accurate than the majority of stories of Biblical characters. I felt as if I were watching the life and struggles of a woman I could understand and feel with and for as she lived with Abraham. Also brought Abraham to life as a real man with real problems and a deep faith in God. Fascinating, and will look for future books by this author on the wives of well-known Patriarchs of the ancient times of the Bible! Read through non-stop in one reading and had trouble with just having it end! Wanted more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book. It was extremely well written and very enlightening!
CarmieJo More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. The author makes this story come alive!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book makes the Bible come alive. As I read the book, I also read the story in the Bible. It accurately follows the Bible, but the author's imagination in "reading between the lines" makes for a great read.
Judianne59 More than 1 year ago
This was the first book by Jill Eileen Smith that I had read, and I enjoyed it very much. I have since read her book, Bathsheba, which was also very good.
ChristysBookBlog More than 1 year ago
Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith is the first book in her new Wives of the Patriarchs series. The story of Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah is well-known, but Smith breathes new life into these age old characters. She follows the story of Abram's journey from Ur to Canaan at the Lord's command through God's promise fulfilled in the birth of Isaac. Smith creates a beautiful story of love and friendship between Abram and Sarai that has become tainted over time by her desperate desire to give him a son. Her faith in her husband's god isn't as strong, and she often falters while trying to be patient. She becomes very real in this story ashamed of her barrenness, but proud of her beauty, bitter at Abram's insistence on the pretense of not being his wife in Egypt, but so full of love for him that she's willing to offer up her slave, Hagar, to give him a son. Sarai is a woman of contradictions, one that women can easily relate to, because she is like us. Smith really brings to life the reality of marriage in the little details, how Sarai adjusts her smile to reflect both love for Abram and disappointment in their current circumstances, how she often tries to manipulate him. Sarai doesn't come across as a woman from thousands of years ago, but a woman who would fit very much into the 21st century. Hagar is also given time here, and Smith makes her sympathetic as well, more so than the Bible does. My only real complaint is that I wish Smith hadn't jumped right from God's announcement that Sarai would bear a song to Isaac's circumcision. Because I came to love Sarai so much, I wanted to follow her through her pregnancy, to share her joy at feeling the first kick, to see the aching love when he is finally born and she first sees his face. I felt robbed that Smith didn't take us through that journey with Sarai, but it's a credit to the author that I cared enough about the character to desire that completion. I look forward to the next book in the series.
MichelleSutton More than 1 year ago
This novel brought the Old Testament to life for me. Once again Jill Eileen Smith has given me a greater appreciation for the scriptures. I knew from reading the Old Testament that Sarai was bitter and jealous of Hagar when she felt like she had to give Abram her maidservant at the time she believed she was no longer physically capable of bearing children. This story shows how difficult it was for her, and for me it created a greater empathy for her plight because I better understood her pain. The culture in her day placed such importance on child bearing, and to have everyone around you bearing children had to be really hard. The scenario shown by the author was a great illustration of how taking matters into your own hands often makes things ten times worse than just trusting God. I pitied Hagar and her situation more than ever once I saw her suffering through the character in the story. I love how the author does this with each novel. When it came to the whole situation with Abram telling Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister, I always understood the story in part, but this novel gave backing to the many fears that Abram had for his deception by showing the reasons he said those things. I never understood how deeply it must have hurt Sarai not to be treated as his wife for so long and to be neglected (in many ways) by her husband in the name of protection. I could see how this was selfish on Abram's part and at one point I laughed when Sarai asked Abram if he cared if she died (and implied he was only worried about his own neck.) So while the novel shows the struggles Abram, Sarai, and Hagar had, it also showed their faith. I enjoyed the subplot with Lot as well and his family drama. All in all this was an engaging read. I didn't see any inconsistencies with Scripture and feel like the author did a great job filling in the blanks to bring about a clearer picture of the past. Well done!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this version of Sarai... and her battle with sending her husband into the arms of another woman, and his battle with guilt in doing so because they loved each other so much
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story of Sarai deals with doubts I feel a lot of women face; waiting for God to fulfill His promises. For that reason, I was sucked into the story and felt as the characters felt. I am an avid reader of biblical fiction and this story is excellent.
Sandragon More than 1 year ago
This book gives an interesting look into the thoughts and actions of Sarai (Sarah). Her motivation in giving Hagar to Abraham, and the consequences of her decisions. It was a very good story, although the love story was a bit unusual!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Abraham and his wife Sarah of the Bible. The story of a woman who gave birth at 90 years old. His faith strong and hers unsure. Modern language with the feeling of a bitter woman who thought she was barren. I was blessed by this book. I rated only four stars because of the way the boo ended without the sacrifice, which would have made it a five star in my mind. But I highly recommend this book to everyone. Believers and unbelievers alike will enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dottie4 More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy reading fictional accounts of familiar bible stories, you won't be disappointed. Author Jill Eileen Smith presents the story of Abram and Sarai. The account reveals to the reader aspects of the historical period, geographical area and the everyday living which makes the characters come alive. There is a great attention to detail of what would be expected to happen as part of a normal day in the life of Abram and Sarai. The attention to such details allows the reader to participate more fully in the story and to appreciate the events in the lives of the characters. I really enjoyed how the author developed the events and situations surrounding Lot and Abram and Lot's wife and Sarai. It was interesting to realize just how unique a belief in God was for Abram in comparison to others in the population. The use of these types of details, especially when contrasting and presenting the other religions/gods worshiped by those not of Abram's faith kept me turning pages on my nook late into the night. I would recommend "Sarai" and have started another of Jill's books. A special thank you to the author and Barnes and Noble for offering Sarai for free. I found it through Inspired Reads which is a web site and newsletter that features low priced or free kindle or nook ereads.
hhannh More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this retelling of a familiar biblical tale. Well-researched with beautiful historical detail. Characters were fully developed. A really page-turner even though you already know the story from the Bible. Can't wait for the second book in this series (February, 2013)!
cjvaughn More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down!
Janna6 More than 1 year ago
I have never read Biblical fiction books quite as engrossing as the books that I have read by Jill Eileen Smith. Her series on the wives of King David was just riveting and now she has started off with the Wives of the Patriarchs and who better to start off with than Sarai, wife to Abraham. She has done it again by sweeping me away to the past and thrusting me in the middle of the scenario that Sarai lived in. Jill has a gift for recreating the setting and times of that era in such a way that you would think she had lived at that time herself, which would of course be impossible but I would believe it. I honestly don't know how she does her research but I will just sit back and enjoy her bringing the Old Testament to life for me as I eagerly anticipate her next book in this new series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sunshineJB More than 1 year ago
This book tells the Biblical story of Abram and Sarai. If you are a believer and a follower of Christ you will know that this book follows very closely to the writings of Moses. I found this to be a great fictional read. I was so caught up and absorbed in this book that I didn’t want to put it down. I picked it up and read it every chance I got. The author did an awesome job with the dialogue between characters. I felt like I was right there traveling with them on their journey and listening in on their conversations. I experienced their joys, sadness, anger, frustrations, and their hope. Jill Eileen Smith is a new author to me and Sarai is the very first book I’ve read of hers. It won’t be the last. I have the Wives of King David series on my TBR list. I am eagerly looking forward to reading these books and the next book in the Wives of the Patriarchs series. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. I was not required to give a positive review, but solely to express my own thoughts and opinions of this book, which I have done.
Justpeachy1 More than 1 year ago
Jill Eileen Smith once again brings the Old Testament to life in her new Wives of the Patriarchs series. The first book in the series, Sarai is based on the Biblical account of Abraham and Sarah and their struggles to conceive a child. Smith uses rich period detail and emotional and spiritual insight to bring this story to the reader. Readers will see Sarai and Hagar in a new light and sympathize with their plights. A great fictional rendering of a one of the Bible's greatest stories! I first became acquainted with Jill Eileen Smith's writing with her Wives of David series which is still one of my favorites. Smith is very gifted when it comes to characterization. If you think about it, it's a daunting task to take characters that are considered sacred and build backstories and voices for them. In Sarai, Smith is taking the story of Abraham and Sarah and showing it to readers in a much more intimate way. When reading the Biblical account, the focus is primarily on Abraham. The only thing we really know about Sarai from the story is that she was barren, that she gave Abraham her maid Hagar in order to provide him an heir and that she laughed when God said he would give her son in her old age. It also mentions that she eventually had Abraham send Hagar and her child away, which alludes to the fact that she was jealous of Hagar, but the Bible doesn't tell us much more about Sarai. Smith says very true to the Biblical telling of the story, but she adds details about Sarai's personality, her feelings, what was going through her mind. It is a very compelling view of a woman that many people know of, but really know little about. Smith's character Sarai, is a woman that many readers will find resonance with. She made a promise to give Abram a son, a promise that she had no idea would be that difficult to keep. I think as Christians and as people we often make vows or promises that we think we can keep, but we really don't know for sure. This story always illustrated the fact that vows and promises to God or others is a very serious thing. We must be careful not to make promises we don't know if we can keep. That generally comes back to haunt us in the long run. Sarai also struggles with the fact that she is barren. Smith clearly shows that during this time period, if a woman could not produce a child, she was looked down upon, pitied and even degraded. That was the purpose of a woman, to bear her husband children and Sarai really has trouble with this. She is a very beautiful woman, yet she is considered unworthy because she has no children. Today's society isn't like that, but I think there are many women who can relate to the fact that not being able to have a child is devastating in many ways. I liked how Smith dealt with the issue and showed the lengths that Sarai went to, to give Abraham a child. Though I wished Smith had taken readers through Sarai's pregnancy and the birth of Isaac, I still loved every page of this book. It was intense and showed Sarai more as real woman, that a character in a Bible story. I think it is so important that these kinds of stories be told. A book of this kind may reach a person who would never pick up a Bible. It is a very powerful tool that I think Smith understands and uses it to get her message of God's grace across to readers. If you love the old Bible stories and accounts of what God was doing before the birth of Christ, this is definitely a book for you!