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The Song of Hannah : A Novel [Paperback]

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By Frances L. Arsenault TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I really love this novel. I read it two times and my mom borrowed it - and like it too. The novel explores the life of Hannah, for those who had not read the Bible is the mother of Samuel the Prophet, who is the last of the Hebrew Judges and the first of the major prophets who began to prophise inside the Land of Israel. The novel also explores the life of Samuel and the soul-wrenching passion he bear to his father Elkanah's first wife Pninah...O.M.G.! I did not know of that. The novel also explores Hannah's childhood-friend-truned-rival Pninah...that is a hard name to pronounce. The book goes back-and-forth for each woman - Hannah and Pninah.

So I think this novel is a beautiful description of ancient Israel in times of war and peace. The home-life and what people do is really fascinating; I would feel like writing a book set in that era. And after this novel, Hannah has become one of my favorite biblical women besides Queen Esther. So for those of you who love biblical fiction, I recommend this book.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ... March 8 2006
By Alena - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Song of Hannah is a very good book and has many good aspects to it. First of all, the topic is greatly to my interest and I originally bought it because it says on the back that it is written in the style of "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant.

The novel is the story of the biblical prophet, Samuel, told through the eyes of his two mothers. One, Hannah, is the epitome of angelic. The second, Pninah, is impulsive and full of emotion. These two women are very different and every chapter is told by a rotation between the two characters' views. It is the lives of these women and their relationships to their shared husband and their gifted son.

The writing was stunning. Only in a few other books have I encoutered such beautiful writing. I could really picture what was happening and I felt as if I was there because the image was put so perfectly in my mind.

The story was also very captivating. Ms Etzioni-Halevy wrote it in a way the always kept me interested and constantly turning the pages to learn what was going to happen next and to learn more about the characters whose lives I was being showed.

One criticism I have for the novel is that you fail to attach yourself to the characters. When I read a novel, I like to close the book and not be able to get my mind off of the characters and their stories. I love being able to feel close to them and feel their sorrows and joys. This novel lacked charachter development to the emotional level of the reader. I could describe to you what the main characters were like very well, but I cannot tell you that I cried with them or smiled in their joy. Also, when the story was suppose to be at its lowest and most depressing point, I felt the same way as I did when I read the first page of the novel. In short, it failed to move me.

However, this book is definately very well written and good. I do recommend it to people who have enjoyed other biblical novels, including The Red Tent. I will just warn you, nevertheless, to not get your hopes up for a story as good as The Red Tent. I enjoyed this book very much.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Romance Novel by Another Name Aug. 30 2005
By Linda A. Lieberman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This new novel, the first of several planned or in the works, by Eva Etzioni-Halevy is a wonderful, easy read. Although set in Biblical times, the situations facing the protagonists and antagonists in this work seem almost contemporary.

The author manages to convey the erudition, wit and beauty of her characters without resorting to heavy, pedantic language and

abstract concepts. The culture, customs and history of the era come alive, as do the historic figures we usually meet only in the Old Testament.

Although barely finished with reading this work, this reviewer is already recommending it as a future selection for her Hadassah chapter book club. If we are lucky,we may be able to discuss the work with the author herself, who plans a US promotional tour this fall. Happy reading!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exquisitely Sensual and Revealing Book Feb. 29 2008
By Story Circle Book Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"The tale of my son Samuel's birth and life has been told in a scroll that resides in the Temple, and in the scroll rooms across the Land of Israel. The people will read it now and in all the generations to come. But it contains only a small part of that which really happened." Thus begins "Hannah's Prologue"--the opening chapter of The Song of Hannah. And with that paragraph, the author drew me in, but her second paragraph cinched it. This was to be an 'all-nighter,' one of those books you just can't put down before reading just one more chapter and then another and another, and yet one more.

"And so I suggested to my husband's first wife, Pninah, that we each write a book that would reveal all that could not be laid bare in the House of the Lord," Hanna continues as she draws me in even further. "By the time you read these words, we are no longer of this earth. But I hope that because of Samuel our memories live on in your hearts. So you will wish to know about him, about us, all that has been concealed so far and has been recorded in this book for the first time." Now, if that doesn't make you want to read well into the night, I don't know what does.

Each chapter of this exquisitely sensual and revealing book is told by Hannah or Pninah. As children, Hannah and Pninah were best of friends. As young women, they held the distinction of being well educated in reading and writing, something almost unheard of for women of that time. Their close friendship survives the ultimate challenge... Both are wed to the same man, Elkanah. Pninah bears many children for Elkanah while, for many years, Hannah is barren.

Based on Biblical facts, readers learn of Hannah's promise to give her firstborn son back to God if he blesses her with a pregnancy. Samuel, one of the great Israelite prophets, was that firstborn son. Readers also learn of "escapades" by a less than faithful Pninah and the lengths that friends will go to protect one another and their children in a society that does not leave room for women to disobey or stray.

As Etzioni-Halevy tells the story of Pninah and Hannah, she also sheds light on the Israeli culture of the day, the religious ceremonies of the Jewish faith, the war between the Philistines and the Israelites, and how that war tore families apart. Above all, we are reminded that no matter how many hundreds of years ago these remarkable women lived, they experienced some of the same trials and tribulations, joys and blessings that women have universally shared since the beginning of time. No doubt, readers will see a bit of themselves in Hannah or Pninah or both women. Women's issues and female friendships are timeless treasures, and Etzioni-Halevy reminds us of this time and time again as she shares The Song of Hannah.

by Lee Ambrose
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine biblical "bodice ripper" May 4 2007
By J. A Magill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The story of the birth of the prophet Samuel, but a brief snippet at the opening of the story that will focus first on the rise and fall of King Saul, and then the rise and foibles of King David, has long occupied a special place in the hearts of Bible lovers. The tale of Hannah, the childless woman pleading at the Temple contains all the hallmarks of a great biblical episode -- sparse prose, raw emotion, and deep humanity. No surprise then that an author chose to use these brief chapters as the basis of a novel of the relationship between Elkanah and his wives. Indeed readers are fortunate that Mrs. Etzioni-Halevy approaches the work with a deft pen, avoiding the excesses of "The Red Tent" and the two dimensional characters of "Queen Maker"

The Song of Hannah, with its often raw sexuality and emotions may offend some readers. Yet it is just such humanity that is at the heart of the Bible's eternal appeal; the characters are not paragons of myth but real complex people with all the strengths and flaws contained there in. Others may dislike the occasional anachronisms used by the author, transposing traditions likely post exile into the pre-monarchic period, but such choices are well within the rights of a writer. Moreover, this is not a piece of scholarship but a novel.

Provocative, engaging, and human, Eva Etzioni-Halevy has produced a fine and entertaining piece of biblical fiction, well worth the time for those who enjoy the genre.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Song of Hannah April 18 2006
By Sandra M. Lipari - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A Christian Review: excerpt from the Editorial REVIEW - "Illuminating ancient Hebrew and Canaanite culture, the tale reminds us that humanity rarely changes, either in its bondage to sex or in its perceived relationship to a creator. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, begs God to open her womb, promising in return to dedicate her first child to him. Thus, her boy Samuel grows up in the temple, blessed with wisdom but cursed with an unholy desire for his father's first wife."

Reading The Song of Hannah, you are taken into Biblical times with the REAL characters dramatized in beautiful portrayals of their fallen natures and constant struggle with sin in conflict with God's goodness and His Commandments.

Understanding the late and GREAT Pope John Paul II's proper alignment of sex in creation, as a foretaste of heaven, enjoining mankind in a Divine act of procreation with our Creator, Eva Etzioni-Halevy portrays the heroes and heroines in this novel with their plight in earthly struggles of pleasing God, and their continual battles of the flesh. She has genius development of the rise and fall of these characters in these battles.

As a Catholic reader, Hannah's resolve to obey her vow at the Temple, willingly giving her beautiful son back to God at the Temple is incredibly, powerfully, and overwhelmingly sensitive as to HOW God works in our lives, as we, in obedience, try to do His will. Despite the conflict with her husband who doesn't understand her need to obey her vow to God, Hannah does what she believes is necessary to fulfill in obedience and her promise to God. Hannah's mothering of this great prophet is portrayed as if God Himself is speaking through her in the perfect nurturing of his Spirit. Samuel's growth in learning at the Temple under the elders is a gracious depiction of Samuel's gifts developed under the Holy aura of these men.

Etzioni-Halevy's development of female scribes, Hannah's Song being accepted into the Book by the High Elders, and other feminine situations vividly attaches the reader to the plight of females bonding and struggling in a world ruled by men.

Fall in love with characters from the Bible, so you may realize they too were constantly in battle with the same demons chasing us today! This author creates and embellishes Biblical characters with devout attention to their struggles between good and evil, you find yourself living in the land of the great Israelite prophet, Samuel. Eva's life as a holocaust survivor, her education, life in the Holyland, and research has big payback in creating a work that draws readers to fall in love with the Bible. Maybe people will be drawn back to Word of God in Sacred Scripture, that has the power to transform lives and our world.

Sandra Lipari
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