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Wisdom's Daughter: A Novel of Solomon and Sheba Hardcover – September 23, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Like her previous novel, Queenmaker (2002), Edghill's latest fictionalization of an Old Testament story will appeal to the Red Tent crowd, both for its emphasis on the role of women in ancient Israel and for the author's ability to bring history to life. Edghill transforms a didactic fable, the story of King Solomon and his brief interaction with the Queen of Sheba, into a powerful love story of a man and the queen who won his heart. Rotating among multiple narrators-- including several of Solomon's 40 wives; his daughter Baalit; Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba; Solomon's war general; and Solomon himself--Edghill tells the story of why Bilqis came to King David's City and why Solomon lavished her with gifts and eventually gave her his daughter. Leisurely paced and focused on the wisdom of Solomon and the burdens of his reign, this atmospheric story is packed with political intrigue, illuminating the curious mixture of cultures and religions among the women of Solomon's court. Jennifer Baker
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Review

“A powerful and unique take on the biblical story, Wisdom's Daughter brings readers into the biblical world through a feminist perspective. Edghill's strong female characters, good and evil, leave their mark on history and on us. Edghill opens new vistas for readers and makes us think more about the matriarchs, not just the patriarchs, of the Bible. Brava!” ―Romantic Times BookClub Magazine

“Vividly evoking ancient Israel and Sheba, Edghill deftly transforms the brief biblical account into an absorbing story replete with intrigue, love, and villains. . . . Persuasive and intriguing.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Think The Red Tent, only much better.” ―Rocky Mountain News (Denver)

Wisdom's Daughter will appeal to the Red Tent crowd, both for its emphasis on the role of women in ancient Israel and for the author's ability to bring history to life. Edghill transforms a didactic fable, the story of King Solomon and his brief interaction with the Queen of Sheba, into a powerful love story.” ―Jennifer Baker, Booklist

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1ST edition (October 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312289375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312289379
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,683,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I did have a chance to see the galleys of this novel before publication last year and even give an opinion or two back to the author, and I thought then that this book looked to be very promising. Now, reading it in published form, I think "Wisdom's Daughter" is even better than India Edghill's previous book "Queenmaker"--the story of Queen Michal, Saul's daughter and David's consort.

In "Wisdom's Daughter", Edghill recreates the court of King Solomon and of Bilqis, Queen of Sheba. The author poses an answer to the riddle of the reason behind the Queen's long journey from far-off Sheba to Israel. What were the questions she wished to have answered that were so perplexing? It is rare that a queen would travel for months away from her realm and offer riches beyond imagination for information! Some have speculated that, in the Bible "all she desired" was to have a child by Solomon. Edghill proposes a far more intricate answer.

The writing is stylized though not overly florid, as befits the subject, and the imagery is rich and colorful. The stories of the other queens of Solomon are as interesting as Bilqis' own; a Sword Maiden from Troy, a sorceress who charms snakes to peer into the future, a breeder of tiny dogs, a Northerner whose blonde hair and pale skin is considered exotic and a princess of Cush (Nubia) who is "black but comely" as the Song of Songs states.

Bilqis is joined by Baalit, the splendid daughter of Solomon. She is brilliant and wise enough to rule as a Queen, but in Israel, her brothers, who are by and large quite inferior to her, will succeed to the throne. Characters from "Queenmaker" also make a reappearance, so this novel is in a sense a continuation of the first book. Howver, it stands entirely on its own as a novel.
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Format: Hardcover
In Wisdom's Daughter, Edghill continues the saga of the women in the households of David and Solomon. Each of the wives and concubines emerge as memorable individuals. The author provides a strikingly original premise for the Queen's journey to the court of Solomon; my only criticism is that the ultimate outcome is predictable from an early point in the story, however, the lush descriptions of settings and the well developed characters more than make up for the lack of suspense. Some readers of her first novel (Queenmaker) objected to Edghill's depiction of King David; in this second novel, the primary characters are shown in a more sympathetic light. I was surprised to find how little is known about the real historical figure (the Queen of Sheba), and enchanted by the invented character in this book.
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Format: Hardcover
When I say that this book is sultry it is simply because it truly seems to bring to life the steamyness of love in Solomon's palace, the animosities between his many wives from various religions and cultures, and his slow-burning romance with the Queen of Sheba.

The history seems to me to be plausible and accurate, and straight off the author lets us know the exact biblical text which sparks her tale so as not to delude the reader as to what is fact and what is fiction. There are many tidbits about the unsettled living between the followers of Yahweh and those who worshipped other gods and even goddesses. I also gained a new insight into the politics of royal marriages as diplomatic manuevers.

What I found enjoyable was that the tale was at different points told from the perspectives of different characters: Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, Solomon's daughter, various of his wives, friends and leaders in the royal household. This led to an interesting play of deceptions, misunderstandings, hidden information, etc. which kept the ultimate plot twists and ending somewhat obscured from view, though not completely unpredictible. Much of this is told from the female point of view, which is refreshing in a world that was so dominated by men.

I admit that I finished this in 2 days as a summer read and didn't want to put it down. It was certainly more than worth the under $6 price I paid for it off of a bargain rack. I would recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction, and in particular religious and Christian historical fiction. Similar books I've read would include Diamant's "The Red Tent" and to a lesser extent Wangerin's "Paul."
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Format: Hardcover
You can have them for free.

I read and liked Edghill's Queenmaker, and I'm a fan of biblical fiction. The story of Solomon and Sheba is only 13 verses of the bible. According to the author, "The great love story of Solomon and Sheba comes not from the Bible, but from three thousand years of romantic folklore...."

I'm not sure if Edghill's attempt was to stretch the 13 verses into 400+ pages, or if she was working off the legend, and at this point, I couldn't care less. This book was a hot mess.

Parts of the book were readable, and the issues I had with it were primarily poor decisions made by the author with regard to the structure of the book, not the story or the writing per se.

Such as:

A massive and rampant overuse of italics.
Multiple narrators - at least 15? One of them dead.
Dialog both anachronistic and trite

The various narrators had me constantly turning to the front to the book to try to figure out who was speaking. Was it Baalit or Bilqis? Abishag or Ahijah? I couldn't keep them straight. To add insult to injury, they all had redundant, whiny, italicized inner monolog. It got to the point where I started thinking in italics. i.e. King Solomon seems like a really good guy. (italics)Solomon sure is a good guy. It's too bad he has to be in this book.(/italics)

The other issue with the changing narrators is we were told everything twice. Baalit entered the Kings chamber. Change to POV Solomon, Baalit entered the chamber. Blah. Blah. Blah. Words with no purpose. It took 140 pages for Solomon and the Queen to even meet.

Readers were twice treated to "something" for thoughts ...
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