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 is the author of Sarai and Rebekah, books one and two in the Wives of the Patriarchs series and best-selling author of Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba, all part of the Wives of King David series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.
I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith. Bringing a Biblical character to life is a bit daunting. You have the Scripture to draw from, but there is definitely a balancing act between God’s word and filling in with fictional details. Smith does a great job in crafting an ancient woman who I can certainly identify with.
Sarai takes place from the call of Abraham to leave Ur up to Isaac’s birth. The characters are well-developed and act and react in believable ways that correspond with what we know from the Biblical account. Abram and Sarai’s stories are well-told including all of their missteps and doubts (Abram passing Sarai off as his sister in Egypt and Sarai giving Hagar as a surrogate for the child promised by God). The heart-ache of infertility, even more acute in ancient times due to lack of medical knowledge and cultural expectations, is woven throughout the story, as is God’s persistent promises to Abram. Smith does a wonderful job of contrasting God’s faithfulness with the fears, doubts and failings of Abram, Sarai, Hagar as well as Lot and his wives and daughters.
If you like historical novels set in Biblical days, I recommend you read Sarai.
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(I bought Sarai for my Kindle.)