A riveting debut tale of the rise of King David also provides a feminist application of The Prince, as Queen Michal must learn Machiavellian guile and statecraft to survive.
Edghill’s David sounds remarkably like a modern politician: he’s talented—composing all those psalms—self-absorbed, charming, desirous of being popular, but also ruthless when thwarted. The slaying of Goliath, the friendship with Jonathan, and the making of Jerusalem as the capital are not so much a divine plan as the cold calculations of political ambition. Michal, who narrates, is King Saul’s daughter—a beauty who, as an adolescent, falls in love when her brother Jonathan brings David home. Saul reluctantly agrees to her marriage, but on the wedding night David, already anointed king by the Prophet Samuel though Saul is still alive, flees the palace with Michal’s help, warned that his life is in danger. Saul, angered by David’s betrayal, insists that Michal marry widower Phaltiel and live in his village. Initially determined never to forget David, Michal soon loves the gentle Phaltiel, but after David and his army slay Saul as well as Jonathan and occupy Jerusalem, he forces Michal to return as his queen. She relates her grieving return to the palace, where she is kept a pampered prisoner with jewels and gorgeous clothes but no freedom. Observing David closely, though, she takes his measure and resolves to survive. And she does, skillfully, as David’s other wives quarrel, Phaltiel is murdered, and ambitious princes like Absalom challenge David for the throne. Lonely, Michal befriends Bathsheba, saves her from death when her pregnancy is discovered, and helps her raise the wise and loving Solomon, whom Michal is determined will be David’s successor.
An intriguing and colorful retelling that incandescently illuminates and interprets an old story. In the tradition of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent—and as good.