Book Review ~ “Sarai: A Novel” by Jill Eileen Smith, Revell Books

I’m grateful I was given the opportunity to review Jill Eileen Smith’s book, Sarai: A Novel.  Although my barrenness didn’t last as long as Sarai’s, I did experience a time when experiencing childbirth seemed an impossibility.  Thankfully, as with Sarai, Adonai proved faithful.

Our story begins shortly after the marriage of Lot, Abram’s nephew.  The family, including Abram and his wife, Sarai, Lot and his wife, Melah and Terah, the father of Abram and Sarai, live in the pagan land of Ur.  Sarai, unable to conceive, finds herself in a hopeless situation.  Her marriage promise, the promise to give Abram a son, was long overdue.  Many years had passed since her pledge and she still finds herself unable to produce a male child or any child, for that matter.  Desperation causes her to look for help from among the god’s of Ur, after being nudged in that direction by her niece, Melah.  In the midst of disappointment month after month, year after year, Abram remained faithful to his God, the one true God, Adonai.

While in the fields, pondering the fact Sarai was yet to conceive, Abram felt an unusual stillness.  The stillness was soon followed by blazing light and a stiff warm breeze.  The uncommon event caused Abram to begin his journey back home.  It was in that moment, he heard his name called.  Wariness came over him as he pondered whether he was simply hearing things.  He was hearing something, something that would change his life forever.

Adonai gave Abram a command and made him a promise.  The command: leave this land behind along with his father’s house and go to the land Adonai was going to show him.  The promise:  He would be made a great nation, Adonai would bless him and his name will be made great.  He would bless those who blessed Abram and curse those who cursed him.  Through him, all the families of the earth would be blessed.

With the command spoken, Abram packed up his household, including Lot and his family and his father, Terah, and ventured out to the land he was promised.

The journey proved a difficult one.  The nomadic lifestyle was tiring, exhausting.  In addition, fear drove Abram to lead his family to Egypt, a place which would have a significant impact on the lives Abram and Sarai, a far greater impact than either of them could have imagined.  Sarai, still longing for a child, obsessed with birthing a son to fulfill her promise to Abram, takes matters into her own hands.  The lengths to which she’ll go to have a child seem to surprise even her while trying Abram’s patience.

The author unfolds this story beautifully.  Her ability to capture the emotion of each moment is masterful.  The lives of Abram and Sarai come to life, leaping right off the page, making this one of the best reads I can recommend.

I give it 5/5 stars.

{Revell Press Release}

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 promises 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?

{About The Author}

Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the bestselling MichalAbigail and Bathsheba, all part of The Wives of King David series. She has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has garnered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.


What a marvelous retelling of an old and sacred story! Though I knew it well, I could not put Sarai down. Smith takes us into the minds of the characters as they struggle with their flaws, fears, and disappointments, armed only with an often fragile faith. Sarai is an inspiring offer of hope for all.”–Linda Windsor, author of the Brides of Alba series

“Jill Eileen Smith’s research shines in this gem of a novel detailing the lives of Abram and Sarai. Fans of biblical fiction will be delighted by Smith’s retelling of two of the most beloved personalities from the book of Genesis.”–Kacy Barnett-Gramckow, author of the Genesis Trilogy

“In Sarai, Jill Eileen Smith takes the reader back to ancient times and the nomadic life of Sarai and Abram. This is an absorbing visit to the past, filled with wonderful details and fascinating characters, including Abram’s nephew Lot and his wife. Smith reveals timeless doubts and struggles, along with the triumphs of some and the ill-fated but fascinating paths of others. Remarkable research is folded into a story that builds to an unforgettable ending. Smith truly brought the era to life!”–Maureen Lang, author of Springtime of the Spirit and Whisper on the Wind

To buy your copy of Sarai: A Novel, click here

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