Sarai (Wives of the Patriarchs Book #1): A Novel

Sarai (Wives of the Patriarchs Book #1): A Novel

4.6 28
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 restrictive…  See more details below


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 , #1
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Barnes & Noble
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1 MB

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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!