Book Review: The Triumph of Deborah

The Triumph of Deborah, by Eva Etzioni-Halevy, was published in 2008.  Ms. Etzioni-Halevy sent me the book for review, and I’m delighted that she did.

I’ve been enjoying a lot of Biblical historical fiction these days, and this book is no exception.  Written in the style of The Red Tent or Sarah, The Triumph of Deborah uses everyday interactions, love stories, domestic and epic conflict to expand and animate Bible stories.  We know so much of the men of the bible, and so little of the women, and these novels serve to show the cultural and familial importance of the women.

To me, the book is primarily about two women: Deborah, a revered Israelite judge, and Nogah, a woman born of a Canaanite king and an Israeli slave.  Deborah is divorced by her husband when she shows preference for a young, Israelite warrior named Barak. Barak leads the Israelites to victory, and returns with both the acknowledged daughter and slave daughter of the slain Canaanite king.  A complicated love triangle follows between Barak and the women.  It concludes with a deeply satisfying ending in which all of the characters experience growth and redemption.

Ms. Etzioni-Halevy is a skilled writer.  The book has a formality of language that gives it an air of myth–which I thought worked well for the text.  Every page in the book sizzles with conflict and suspense, and it’s hard to put down.

Overall, I found this book a unique and fascinating look at the power and influence of women guiding men in history.  It is a testament to their independence and courage.  I look forward to reading more books by Ms. Etzioni-Halevy.

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