Friday, March 16, 2012
Love's Sacred Song by Mesu Andrews
Let’s begin with the summary:
Standing in the massive shadow of his famous father, young King Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, wisdom and folly. In the uncertain world of alliances and treachery, Solomon longs for peace and a love that is true and pure—a love that can be his cornerstone.
A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah, remembers the first time she laid eyes on Solomon in Jerusalem when she was just seven years old. Since then she has known that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father, a leader of their tribe, secures a promise from King Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams may come true.
But how can this simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon's harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?
And now, my review:
I haven’t read Mesu’s other book, Love Amid the Ashes, based on Job’s life, but after reading Love’s Sacred Song, I’m definitely motivated. What a rich and powerful story this is!
Writing biblical fiction has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantage: your plot is sort of outlined for you in the Bible. Disadvantage: the Bible doesn’t give a lot of details so you have to fill in the blanks around a very different time period and way of life. Which leads me to research.
According to Mesu’s author’s note, she spent well over twelve years researching this book of the Bible (the Song of Solomon, which is also known as the Song of Songs). Her subject matter intrigued me because I’ve been a student of the Song of Songs since the mid-90s myself. I’ve been fascinated with the allegorical application of this Song, and seeing how our Bridegroom God sees us. But Mesu’s focus (for the purposes of this book) were a literal and historical application. (Some marriage counselors teach couples from the Song of Solomon, which is another type of application. This is one multi-faceted book!)
What I appreciated about Love’s Sacred Song was how Mesu made me think in a new way about Solomon’s reign. The novel begins with a thorough exploration of his early reign and all the politics involved when he first ascended the throne. Through her research of what literally happened (specifics the Bible does give) and understanding of the culture, Mesu painted a believable picture of how politics affected not only Solomon’s world, but the Shulamite’s as well. She may have indeed been a treaty bride meant to bring the nation of Israel together.
And then there was the romantic element. If you’ve read the Song, you’ve probably wondered how these verses came about. Mesu calls them shepherd’s verses and shows how they not only could have applied to the character’s lives, but how they show a progression of their lives together, sort of as an timeline.
As usual with this genre, there is much left to the discretion of the author, but Mesu’s humble, well-educated approach shines through in her writing. If you disagree with this element or that one, no problem. Like the Song of Songs, there are so many gems in the reading, it’s worth it.
I recommend this story to lovers of biblical fiction, historicals, general fiction, and romance. There’s something here for everyone.