The Song of Hannah : A Novel Paperback
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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!
"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
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.
Elkanah, too, was so selfish and abusive that his supposed deep love for Hannah, and those moving words taken straight from the Bible--"am I not better for you than 10 sons"--were hard to believe or take seriously. I understand the idea of making him imperfect, but to make him so awful that the reader must question why anyone, let alone these 2 educated and beautiful women, would love him, seems to be a mistake.
Furthermore, I found the language of the book to be a little too artificial and stilted. While I understood what the author was trying to do with the formal style of narration, I just didn't think she worked all the kinks out of it. I did think the book got a little better as it went on, but ultimately, it failed to live up to a great amount of potential. That said, the author is a talented and imaginative writer, and I am more than willing to read another of her books with the hopes that it works a little better than this one.