I will admit it: I am a reading addict. I will give almost any genre a chance and will read pretty much anything put in front of me – I have been that way since I was a kid. When I was given a chance to get a free copy of a Biblical fiction book to review, I jumped at the chance, despite it not being from my usual arena. Michal's Window by Rachelle Ayala is a beautiful story of love, loss and fate – it just so happens to be about King David from the Bible.
What did I think?
The stunning imagery of this book lands you face first in the desert of Jerusalem where you are immediately brought into Ms. Ayala’s interpretation of this male dominated, God-fearing world. This Biblical fiction book is a retelling of King David’s relationship with his first wife, Michal, daughter of Saul. The story begins when the two meet as young teenagers (yes, they are young – but stick with it and remember the time from which this story is told – 14 was not too young to marry at the time…).
The story unfolds with King Saul’s deteriorating mind and the lunacy that follows, including his exile of, and attempted execution of David after David marries Saul’s favorite daughter. You cannot help but feel like you are part of this world and feel each of Michal’s emotions as she pines for David following his exile, despite her being remarried to a kind, generous soul, Phalti. Throughout the story, we meet family, friends, lovers and even a sorceress – that aid Michal in her attempt to reunite with David.
I wept with Michal when she lost her first child, and again when David came to claim her as his queen. The passion between these two was palpable and really did swing as a pendulum between infatuation and hate. This pent up emotion plays out in their bedchamber, too, with well-written and somewhat saucy love scenes.
It was fascinating to imagine along with Ms. Ayala how these people would have acted and what they would say in certain circumstances, given the time. I loved getting a “behind the scenes” glance at King David and his many wives. It was interesting to see how these women were not simply the “follow because I am told to by a man” types, but more often presented that way, while at the same time, used their sexuality to try to gain the upper hand. Michal was a strong, stubborn woman who struggled with knowing what she should be doing and what she wanted to do. I loved watching her grow and learn to trust herself, no matter the consequence. So many books have a “Team” for whom you pledge your allegiance to for the heroine to become involved. With this book, it was very Mr. Right Now, versus Mr. Right. Phalti, Ittai and David each had a place in her heart and a time in her life. At different times, I loved and hated each.
I loved this book. It highlights a young woman, who in many ways, was ahead of her time. She was outspoken, fought for her love and was fearless. She was not afraid to make decisions that were right for not only herself, but for her family, even if it meant her heart was broken in the process. I would recommend this book to anyone – not just those interested in Biblical fiction – but those interested in a story of epic love, political discord and self worth.