Reading List: Different Genres, Same Characters

  For a couple weeks now i've been trying to write about these in terms of the Saturday Sisters series, but what i want to say isn't fitting that format.  Maybe some other time.  Meanwhile. . . .

How i Found the Authors

   i first came across Chuck Swindoll in the early 1980s while listening to Christian radio.  Among the many books of his that i have is this, the first in his biography series.  i believe that i'd read it before this go-around.
  Jill Eileen Smith, i came across when i found a stack of the Bathsheba book on a remainder table while Christmas shopping.  It did NOT deserve to be remaindered.   Of course, having enjoyed book 3 in the series, i needed books 1& 2 also, then our book club chose Smith's Sarai also, so i've now read & can  recommend 4 of her 5 books to date.  (i have no connection with  the author.)


  Obviously these are very different types of books.  While painstaking research is behind both the fiction trilogy and the biography, their purpose is different.  Yes, as Christian writers, both Smith and Swindoll wish to instruct and encourage the faithful, but Swindoll, because of his genre, is much more direct in this.  Smith tells vivid stories, striving always to be faithful to Scripture.,   She gives her lessons in editing of details, the conversations of her characters, and in the Bible study and book discussion questions on her website.

 Smith paints for us vividly the lives of not only the woman featured in the given novel, but also David and other surrounding characters individuals.  Because she is writing novels, she needs not stick to historic individuals, but her characters are real people, people we know, people who may have existed in the life of the featured person. 

And Gender

  If i had not read the Swindoll book together with these novels, i might not have noticed the small place the women occupy in the biography.
  Surely the man who kept two wives while running for his life, who committed adultery and murder for the wife of a loyal soldier - while keeping a harem no less! - thought more about women than the couple of mentions Swindoll gives them.
  Michal is not mentioned until toward David left her.  Their courtship didn't fit the purpose of the book.
  Abigail appears as nearly a perfect woman who sets off David's initial appearance of clay feet.
  And, in the chapter and a half about "The Incident of the Open Window Shade," Bathsheba gets the usual "Put your clothes on, woman," while we see a lot of what may have been behind David's fall.
  And that's all the mention of women Swindoll gives, despite his intended cross-gender audience.  But then his subject is specifically David, not the people around him.
  Smith began to write about her novel about David, but was told that fiction about women sells better.  Her books alternate between a section about the woman, and a section about David or some other character in the story.  All feel like real people.  Michal gets a better ending than Scripture gives her (but then fiction demands good endings, and this still is not a happy one).

Internal Dialog

  Fiction can really shine with internal dialogs the thoughts of the people we are reading about.
  The ones in Smith's books are great.  To take just one example, when Abigail, one of the most righteous women in the Bible, watches the Ark of the Covenant come into Jerusalem, her meditations lead her to ponder her own sin.  It reminded me of a Fulton Sheen quote i'd seen recently.

  This is not to trivialize the sins of someone like Abigail or the nuns Sheen is referring to.  Rather, it humbles me to see the effect of what Abigail realized as a sin that no one else would have thought of as one, and causes me to ponder what passes for not a sin in my life that hinders others.
  Popcorn stones.


  Both the biography and the fiction have the same aim, but different means.
  Is either superior?   Probably not; just different.  You can guess that i have a taste for fiction. 
  i leave you with a link to an old article:
The novelist forsakes the realm of fact in order that he may better tell the truth, and lures the reader away from actualities in order to present him with realities.

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