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Desired: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah (Lost Loves of the Bible) Paperback – October 1, 2011
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“Everyone who likes historical fiction will enjoy Desired. Vivid and compelling—I loved it!”
-India Edghill, author of Wisdom’s Daughter and Delilah: A Novel --This text refers to the Digital edition.
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This story was not what I expected. Seeing Samson through his mother’s eyes was an unsettling conundrum. Amazon’s description labeled her as nagging and manipulative, which didn’t scratch the surface of this Hebrew mama’s impact on her miracle-boy-turned-renegade. At times, I felt embarrassed for the woman—so overbearing were her maternal instincts. I didn’t really like Samson’s Philistine wife or Delilah. I generally pitied the whole bunch! But I found myself unable to stop reading because I needed to know the fate of each one. This is where Ginger’s superb writing excelled.
The Book of Judges glimpses a time in Israel’s history when heroes were hard to find:
“At that time the Israelites…went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” Judges 21:24-25
The extensive research and biblical accuracy helped explain many questions from Samson’s story in Judges 13-16. But be forewarned. This is not a novel for the faint-of-heart. Just as the stories in Judges are graphic in content and description, so Ginger’s novel describes the characters’ activities realistically—without sensationalizing.
I can sum up the message of this book with words from Samson’s mother that challenged me for days. (Don’t you love it when a book has that kind of impact?)
“I could not understand why everyone devoted themselves to understand the secret of his strength. Why did it matter? Why did no one care what his strength was for, why it had been given to him? Why did no one seek that answer? No one wanted to know. They preferred the excitement of miracles to the hard work of change, the hard work of breaking away from a culture that enslaved them all so comfortably.”
The author paints Samson as a slobbish, self-centered man who sees wants he wants and takes, often pouting or throwing an adult hissy fit if he doesn't get his way. The story is peppered with lines like: "Samson sweats like a beast all the time," and "I did not even want to think what his beard would smell like tonight when he tried to kiss me".
Some parts of the book were confusing, and didn't quite follow the story of Samson as written in Judges. For instance, his first wife was given to one of Samson's companions in Judges after she betrayed him by telling her people the answer to his riddle. In this book she is given to an elderly man who appears to also be a Philistine. Given that there isn't much detail of his life given in the Bible, I expected this book to stick to what we know a little more than it did.
I also wasn't fond of the end, in which the author takes the liberty of having Delilah and Samson's family witness what appears to be Jesus welcoming Samson after his death and saying "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Delilah "opens her arms to him (Jesus)" as if accepting him as her God now. How is it that these two are so in tune with God that they were able to witness this? And while the author doesn't go as far as to say that Samson's mother recognized Delilah for who she was, I find it implausible that they would have connected after such a horrible event just in time to witness something taking place on a spiritual plane. It felt too forced.
This gets three stars because it is well written and the characters definitely have some dimension to them. However the portrayal of Samson and the drifting from accuracy prevent me from rating it higher.
While not overly misogynistic, the author clearly defined the role of women in ancient society. Delilah's trek from a worthless thief of a daughter to consort of one of the five Philistine lords is fraught with betrayal and bloodshed. The scenes of self mutilation however, seemed contradictory and slightly self serving. Similarly, the long reprieve from temple 'service' was unbefitting of the character of raucous philistine life. The build around the 'terrible secret' were a bit contrived, but well developed.
Overall, this was a delightfully good book, which I would highly recommend as a summer vacation read. It fits well into the historical fiction genre, with the added benefit of causing the reader to reconsider and revisit an Old Testament hall of faith hero .
Most Recent Customer Reviews
it was very connected...what a hard life they lived...made me feel very blessed.Read more