A highly readable historical novel, with enough period detail for biblical purists and enough drama and romance for secular...

Bathsheba Bathed in Grace


A well-executed debut historical novel that melds biblical history with steamy romance, intrigue and high drama.

In this book’s introduction, Cook writes of how she researched and presented living-history characterizations of biblical women in her Scripture-study classes, which she turned into this compelling collection of eight short stories. These “scandalous women,” who, as the subtitle notes, indeed changed the course of history, include extraordinary princesses, ordinary women, and even slaves and concubines. In these stories, sisters battle one another over societal rank as viciously as their male counterparts clash over territory, and Cook’s diverse cast conveys detailed, emotional insight into a panorama of human history. Bathsheba has an affair with King David and hastily marries him. She’s a shrewd operator who gains her own degree of political power, and she gives birth to the peaceful King Solomon, author of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes and builder of the protective shrine for the sacred Ark of the Covenant. After David’s death, as Solomon’s mother, she becomes the first queen mother of Israel. Leah and Rachel each tell their side of a story that pits the two sisters against each other in a marriage-bed battle over Jacob, and Abraham’s wife Sarah, a princess, recounts how her faith journey led her to become the mother of Isaac at age 90. (Curiously, the story doesn’t include Sarah’s reaction to Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac.) Cook also gives voice to the lesser-known Hagar, Sarah’s servant slave, who, under Sarah’s orders, bore Abraham’s first son, Ishmael; in a fit of anger and jealousy, Sarah banishes both Hagar and Ishmael. The novel’s range of emotions and viewpoints make it a worthwhile read; each woman, no matter her rank or her hardship, learns the same universal lesson: Love conquers all, and mercy and forgiveness are at the heart of it. Eve, the mother of all humanity, tells her story in the book’s final chapter, a fitting closure for an exceptional narrative.

A highly readable historical novel, with enough period detail for biblical purists and enough drama and romance for secular readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1449772673

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.


A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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