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Abigail's Story by Ann Burton

Abigail's Story

by Ann Burton

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Abigail is another semi-anonymous woman from the Bible, found in the pages of 1 Samuel. (Read the NIV translation here.) While David is on the run from King Saul with his army he asks a wealthy man named Nabal for provisions; Nabal refuses. David is infuriated and decides to attack in retaliation; it is only the quick thinking of Nabal’s wife Abigail that saves the household. She rushes to David armed with gifts and soothing words, begging him to spare them not because her husband’s house is good or worthy but because a man so close to God, as David is, would not something so petty on his glorious record. David is so taken by her wise words (and smoldering good looks; Abigail is described as beautiful) he calls off his soldiers, and when Nabal dies ten days later (most mysteriously…) he marries Abigail.

I believe Abigail’s Story is meant to be the first book in Ann Burton’s Women of the Bible series, but chronologically she comes after Rahab, Deborah and Jael. Since we know so little about these women, Burton has far more creative license than, say, a historical fiction writer working on a book about Anne Boleyn or Marie Antoinette. So in her version of the story, Abigail becomes a girl whose family has fallen on hard times. When her brother incurs a debt her family can never hope to repay, Abigail offers herself to Nabal as a wife instead. After quite a bit of bargaining, Nabal eventually accepts. After a single night of marriage (that the two of them fail to consummate) Abigail is shipped off to a distant hut to inventory Nabal’s flocks of sheep. She has quite a challenge ahead of her: her husband hates her, her servant dislikes her, the shepherds are hostile, she doesn’t know how to do the task at hand, and there are thieves, angry soldiers and wild animals everywhere.

Abigail is a bit too good to be true. I mean, yes she is a character from a Bible but that hardly means she’s going to be perfect. But Abigail is portrayed as a sweet, kind woman that everybody loves (except for her brute of her husband) because she’s so thoughtful and good-hearted. Fine. Burton also mentions several times that Abigail is plain, nothing special to look at; that seems at odds with the Bible’s proclamation that she’s beautiful, praise the Bibles’ authors rarely bestow. She’s a virgin, because the marriage is unconsummated, so when she accidentally meets David and falls in love she’ll be untouched by another man. (Never mind that David has at least two other wives; these are not mentioned in Burton’s story. I bet Abigail’s in for a surprise.)

The book also has a few scenes of bodice-ripper-worthy romantic almost-couplings (it’s a Christian book, after all) and cheesy dialogue. But the minor characters are interesting; Abigail’s sweetness is contrasted nicely with the acid tongue of her servant and the dry wit of Bethel, the wife of the shepherd in charge of the whole sheep-watching enterprise. If I had read these books in the intended order, and picked up Abigail’s Story first, I definitely would not have continued on to the rest of the series. It’s a fast read but it’s not good, and I don’t feel it captured the Abigail of the Bible. ( )
1 vote makaiju | Sep 6, 2008 |
The story is based on a brief segment in the book of Samuel about Abigail, the woman who held back David's army on her own, but it's much more than that. It brings Biblical times to life in a way that is fascinating whether you're a believer or not.

Abigail is a young woman who takes over the family's pottery trade when her father becomes too ill to do it, and her brother too irresponsible. But even her best efforts can't save her family when her brother loses a fortune gambling, so she barters herself as a bride to the man holding the debt. Sent into the countryside to protect her husband's sheep business, she's slowly accepted by the sheepherders, and falls in love with the mysterious David.

Abigail's Story is fascinating, and well worth the effort to find it. ( )
  Darla | May 11, 2007 |
Plot Summary: What happens, When & Where, Central Characters, Major Conflicts
Burton retells the story of the Biblical figure of Abigail, making her the daughter of a Potter in Carmel. Abigail's father is infirm, as is her mother, and her brother is not good at working the clay, so Abigail has all but taken over the family pottery business. Her brother causes major trouble for the family when he runs up a gambling debt with a rich but greedy swindler named Nabal. To save her family Abigail works out a deal where she becomes Nabal's wife (pretty much in name only) and the debt is forgiven. Nabal sends her up North to see to his flocks of sheep. These she and her servant woman befriend the tribe of shepherds--and also run into a band of warriors whose leader is the outlaw/future anointed king David.

Style Characterisics: Pacing, clarity, structure, narrative devices, etc.
Told entirely from Abigails P.O.V. Very much a romance novel, even with almost explict sexual scenes. The flavor of the time period is present in the variety of Hebrew words used and Hebrew customs illustrated, but the heroine has a independent streak that is appealing to modern day readers. Some scenes seemed far fetched to me as the characters acting too modern for the time period. Abigail is fairly well-rounded, but the other characters aren't. David's character is one minute singing psalms, the next lusting after Abigail (which may not be all that far off, but it is a strech from the Biblical story).
Too much of a romance with explicit content to appeal to conservative Biblical fiction fans, but this could make it appealing to typical romance readers. ( )
  debs4jc | Oct 19, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 045121479X, Mass Market Paperback)

They were women of conviction and courage, whose stories inspire the faithful to this day.

Now, Signet launches Women of the Bible, a compelling new series for fans of historical fiction and romance.

This is the story of Abigail...

To settle her brother's gambling debt, Abigail of Carmel convinces her boorish lord to marry her. Then exiled by him to the life of a shepherdess, she grows to love David, the warrior son of Jesse, who will come face-to-face with her husband in a senseless war-and destroy her hopes of peace.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:19 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Abigail of Carmel weds Nabal the Fool in order to save her family from financial ruin and is exiled to the countryside, where she becomes enamored with the land and the people, until war threatens her new sense of peace.

» see all 2 descriptions

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