My second book in the ARC Challenge:
Title: “The Triumph of Deborah“
Author: Eva Etzioni-Halevy
Number of Pages: 362
Date of Publication: February 26, 2008
4 stars: I couldn’t put it down!
“Two women were standing on high places, shielding their eyes from the blazing sun with their hands, peering into the distance in search of the messengers from the battlefield. Each knew that her life depended on the outcome of the battle; but their lives depended on opposite results.” (“The Triumph of Deborah” pg 3)
I received “The Triumph of Deborah” by Eva Etzioni-Halvey not too long ago and stuck it on top of my pile of ARCs. It sat next to my bed for a few days. One night I did some serious reading, and finished my LT May book (“The New Yorkers“- my review here). It was late, lol, or early depending on the way you look at it. “The Triumph of Deborah” caught my eye. I figured I’d pick it up and read a couple or pages, or maybe the first chapter, just to get a feel for it. I was rather tired. Well folks, I didn’t stop at a few pages. I didn’t stop at the end of the first chapter, or even at the end of the next one. I read all 362 pages at once.
If you’ve read some of my reviews, you know that I love historical fiction. I’m ashamed to admit that I never really considered reading Biblical historical fiction until recently. (Anita Diamant’s “The Red Tent” is on by TBR list) I’m not sure why I never tried it. It’s not because of the religious aspect, as I love reading about all different types. In any case, I’m glad I picked up this book, and will certainly be on the look out for more in the same genre.
As I mention in the interview below, I was hooked from the very beginning! It’s been awhile since I’ve picked up a book that grabbed me like that. I very much enjoyed the story. The stories of three different women are told, each for at least several pages, and I was never confused as to whose point of view I was reading (in this case: Deborah, Nogah, and Asherah, and at times Barak). I found myself sympathizing with one of them, and then entirely changing my mind and agreeing with another. All three of the women were very strong characters, with Nogah being the most timid– but I think that worked for her. As for the man, Barak, even with all his womanizing he still managed to be oddly attractive. I could see why these women were drawn to him.
So would I recommend this book? Definitely. The good far outweigh the bad. The only problems I had with it, were at times I felt that the dialogue was a bit stiff; but that could just be because I’m unused to reading stories in that time period. I also felt there were a few places where modern phrases were used, like ‘a cranky child whose toy had been taken away’ that didn’t sit well for this time period. It was just something that didn’t work for me. Both of these things were the reason I gave four stars instead of five. In any case, the story is amazing. Read “The Triumph of Deborah“. You won’t be disappointed. See below for my interview and giveaway.
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Hello all, my guest today is Eva Etzioni-Halevy. Her new book “The Triumph of Deborah” has recently been released and she was kind enough to grant me an interview with her.
Q. I’ve not read your previous work, but after finishing “The Triumph of Deborah” I definitely will. “The Song of Hannah” and “The Garden of Ruth“… I’ve noticed that all three have a common theme, a sort of Biblical historical fiction. What made you decide to start writing about women in these ancient times?
A. It so happened that rather late in life I began reading the Bible on my own and I was fascinated by it. What enthralled me was that it is full of the most DRAMATIC and the most TRAUMATIC stories about people who lived in ancient times, thousands of years ago, and yet are so similar to us in their psychological makeup, in their hopes and anxieties and desires and in the way they relate to each other.
I was fascinated in particular by biblical-historical women, because I found so many astonishing similarities between them and present day women in general, and myself in particular.
I began to identify with them so strongly that I felt as if I were part of them and they were part of me.
In the Bible they are usually side characters. So decided I to move them to the center of the stage and turn the spotlight on them and amplify their voices so that they could be heard loud and clear across the generations.
In this way I was also hoping to emphasize the feminine part of the Bible.
So I began writing about them, stories of love, betrayal and redemption through more love and friendship, novels for light entertainment, with twisting plots, page-turners, as they have been often referred to, which can be enjoyed also by people who have no connection at all to the Bible, and which are yet totally faithful to the text of the Bible.
In my novels there are no deviations at all from the scripture, only additions. The original biblical stories are short and where they leave gaps, I fill them out with my imagination and identification, and the feeling that I was really there and witnessed what happened.
Q. Your opening lines grabbed me and hooked me, which of course I assume was your goal! The idea of two women waiting for battle, and hoping for opposite results…. I know that some authors continuously rework first chapters. Were these always your beginning lines, and did you always plan on having the story start here?
A. Actually the opening lines grabbed me as well, and they sort of set the scene for the rest of the book, so I saw no reason to change them. I wanted to show that there was a conflict between the Israelites and the Canaanites and on both sides there were human beings, particularly very human women, who were anxious about themselves and their loved ones.
In more general terms, my first book THE SONG OF HANNAH, changed quite a bit as I was writing it and came out completely different from what I intended it to be at the beginning.
But THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH, being my third book, I already had it in my mind pretty much from the beginning, and there we’re no major changes as I went along, either in the first chapter or anywhere else.
Q: Most stories that have love triangles only have two women with one man. What made you decide to have three women revolving around Barak?
A. I did not actually plan it that way because I wanted it to be a “quadrangle” , it was just part of the logic of the plot.
But looking back on it in retrospect, I am happy that it worked out that way, because as you say most stories have triangles and having a quadrangle, makes this story different and perhaps more original. I believe that THE cardinal sin for any author is to be trite and tread well-trodden ground yet again, so if this form helped me beware of this trap, it is a distinct advantage.
Q. Did you decide before you started writing who would end up with Barak, or did it come to you as you were telling the story?
A. As I said, in this case I had it all in my mind before. And the same also in my second novel THE GARDEN OF RUTH.
But in my first novel, THE SONG OF HANNAH, the heroines of the novel played an incredible trick on me, and in the middle of writing the novel they turned around on me and did precisely the opposite from what I intended them to do initially.
So each book unfolded in its own way.
Q. From the title, one may assume that the entire story is about Deborah, however I was pleasantly surprised to read about the other women throughout the book. Deborah is such a fascinating character, is that why you made her the title character?
A. I am happy that you liked the other women in the story as well. Because I identified with them a lot and felt that they were an integral part of the story.
I chose Deborah as the title character for two reasons. First, because she is such a prominent and fascinating character in the Bible, in fact THE most prominent woman in the Old Testament of the Bible.
She is sort of a super leader and deeply adored by the people.
The second reason is that she is the most influential character in the novel as well. She makes things happen, pulls the strings behind the scenes, even when she is not physically there. She is the one who leads the nation to war, and then also to peace. And the novel is also a tribute to her wisdom and foresight and power.
Q. And now just a few bookish questions! What kind of books do you like to read? What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author? Finally, what are you reading now and why?
A. I love reading historical and biblical novels. I don’t have one favorite author, and as to what is my favorite book, well it is, perhaps not surprisingly, the greatest bestseller ever, the Bible.
This is what I am reading now, not only because it is an incredibly amazing book, but also because I derive inspiration from it for my next (also not surprisingly) biblical novel, about a lady named Tamar, daughter of King David.
Perhaps it is worth mentioning that my novels are available at bookstores and if they are not there they can be ordered. They can also be ordered online from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and the like.
It certainly is! I know I’ll be be ordering mine shortly :) Again thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions!
ATTENTION: As for “The Triumph of Deborah“, Eva has generously sent me a copy to giveaway to one lucky person! Simply comment on this post, telling me why you’d like to read this book. (Don’t just say “Pick me please!” Make an effort!) Link to this post (and tell me about it) for a second entry. You have until 9:00pm EST on 6/21 to do so, and I’ll randomly pick a winner on 6/22.
Thanks to Eva Etzioni-Halevy and Barry Elad.
Missed the post before this one? It was TUESDAY THINGERS.