A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

Title: A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story

Author: Jill Eileen Smith

Series: Daughters of the Promised Land, #4

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Era: Biblical (Hannah, mother of Samuel)

Publisher: Revell Books

Source: from Netgalley (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

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Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love, for each other, for their God, and for his tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband’s new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah’s cruelty count for nothing? Why does God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

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A sweet but heartbreaking but hopeful story of how Hannah’s life could have been. I really enjoyed it and finished it in just a couple days – and as it was almost four hundred pages (380, anyway), that’s a wonder!

PLOT: 4/5

I believe it’s very important to take all Biblical fiction with a grain of salt. We don’t know that was how it was for sure. And basing an entire novel – especially a long novel like this one! – based on the life of someone from the Bible about whose life very few details were given is very risky.

I did like it, though! Don’t get me wrong. It was entertaining and for the most part kept my interest. At times it seemed to drag a wee bit – and I was curious as to when this whole boring life of Hannah’s was going to end! 😉 But it was a great story with a great message.

I don’t know that I believe that Hannah was approaching middle-age (in modern-day terms) when Samuel was born. It just wasn’t what I’d thought of whenever I read the Biblical account.

I always imagined the story like this: I bet she was married around fourteen or fifteen and had Samuel when she was, oh, late twenties. I don’t remember if it was specified in the Biblical account that Hannah was the first wife; I kind of thought of her as the second, younger wife. And I don’t think it took her that long to think to offer her son as a Nazarene. That would have been the first thing that occured to me … 😉

But really, we don’t know, so this account is as likely as any other. It was definitely believable, which is more than I can say about some Biblical fiction!

CHARACTERS: 5/5

Hannah was an amazing character. Her faith, patience, and kindness were incredible. She was the kind of person I know I’d want to be friends with. Definitely worth reading the book just to see her Christ-like example of life even through trials. (And the girl didn’t even have Christ as an example, come to think of it!)

Elkanah was pretty caring and protecting. At first I was skeptical, but I came to understand his motivations for taking a second wife, etc., and I forgive him – in part, at least. Bigamy is never a good thing – it’s completely against God’s perfect design for marriage. Still, I came to understand why he did it, so it made me a bit more sympathetic.

It was also hard to like him because he treated Penninah kinda unfairly. I mean, he just married her for children, and then made it clear to her through his actions that he didn’t really care for her.

So yeah, despite his sweetness to Hannah, I didn’t love Elkanah.

I was surprised to find myself sympathizing with Penninah. She was a truly terrible person, honestly; just a whiny little brat. But I get where she’s coming from, and I wanted her to have some sort of happy ending. (Though if she died young, I wouldn’t have minded that either! 😛 )

I hate Hophni and Phineas. Even more than I did based on reading the Biblical accounts. And their poor wives … ❤ 😦

SETTING: 5/5

Excellent! I really got sucked back into the thousands-of-years-ago setting. (Probably 3,000 years ago? I’d have to actually think about it.) Quite fascinating. The author really seems to know her stuff!

As, outside of the Bible, I haven’t done a ton of research, I wouldn’t know if it wasn’t accurate in any way. To me, it seemed perfect. Good job to the author!

WRITING: 4/5

The author’s style was enjoyable and understandable. Very flowing and melodic. I occasionally found it difficult to understand point-of-view switches, but other than that, well done.

CONTENT: 3/5

Language: n/a

Violence: mentions of wars, invading countries, etc. No graphic violence.

Sexual: mentions of sexual interactions between Elkanah and his wives (ugh, writing wives in relation to one man gives me the shivers!), but no details were given. Somewhat detailed descriptions of birth that may make some uncomfortable. The priests are evil and take advantage of young girls, oftentimes leaving them pregnant. Their illegitimate children run around the temple. Treated as very wrong.

Other: mentions of burnt offerings, sacrifices, animals being slaughtered for those sacrifices, etc. Blood and animal-sacrificing/killing, few details. Both Hannah and Penninah contemplate suicide at times. Penninah comes pretty close.

More adult content than bad content. I’d say 14+ for sexual mentions as well as the priest’s evilness being disturbed. If you’re disturbed by childbirth (which is not something I understand, but …), then use discretion.

OVERALL: 4.5/5

A great story I’d recommend to any lovers of Biblical fiction! This has always been a favorite story with me, so it was a great treat for me, and I’d definitely reread it someday.


Review by Kellyn Roth of Reveries Reviews

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