Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

Bethany House Book Review: “Bathsheba” by Angela Hunt

“Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty” by Angela Hunt

Biblical Fiction

Review copy source: Bethany House Publishers

My rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book

After receiving God’s promise of a lifelong reign and an eternal dynasty, King David forces himself on Bathsheba, a loyal soldier’s wife. When her resulting pregnancy forces the king to murder her husband and add her to his harem, Bathsheba struggles to protect her son while dealing with the effects of a dark prophecy and deadly curse on the king’s household.

 

My Thoughts:

I hadn’t read any books by Angela Hunt before and so when “Bathsheba” came up for review,I was interested in reading it. And indeed the cover is beautiful (besides the unrealistic amount of makeup… ^.^).
But this book was unfortunately, not a favourite for me. There were several parts that I had to skip because they were really inappropriate – it would make a person blush, truly. I don’t think that is necessary at all to have it in any book, but especially Biblical Fiction.

One quote I liked: “A complacent man would eventually neglect the Lord, because he would depend upon HaShem’s promise, and not HaShem Himself.” – I agree with this, but sadly, the characters did not follow this. Bathsheba did rely on The Lord’s promise and not so much God Himself.  Her faith was quite strangely portrayed. She was mostly angry at God, and at some point she switched her attitude towards Him, but it was not clear or obvious.

One of the over-all themes that I didn’t care for at all was the great emphasis on physical beauty. The fact that Bathsheba was a “Tob” woman (meaning, very beautiful) was referenced and repeated a thousand times. And there was way too much stock put into her beauty.  I was also very disappointed with the prophet Nathan’s attitude towards his wife. He compared her to Bathsheba continually, and it was very degrading. It would be one thing if no physical description was given, but they did describe the looks of each, and to say that one figure type is more pleasing than another is just terrible. Every woman is made beautiful in Yahweh. There is absolutely no size or shape that is better than the other. Period.

Nathan as a character, as a prophet, was very discouraging to me. Yes, he was a man, but he was a man of God, and I do not believe that a prophet would behave as he did, in many aspects. In comparing his wife (who was extremely sweet, and probably the best character of the whole book) to Bathsheba, he thanked God that his wife wasn’t as pleasing as Bathsheba. It was just so wrong.

I get that this series is about ‘dangerous beauty” and that, in theory, is why so much emphasis is placed on it, but I don’t think it is godly, especially to give descriptions of what is “remarkably beautiful” because everyone’s perception of beauty is vastly different and unique. To talk down about one figure type is very detrimental to a reader who could be that figure type. I fear that any young lady who is not secure in God with how He has made her, will read this and feel inferior, inadequate and will compare themselves with the book’s interpretation of what is beautiful.  I feel that to be dangerous.  We can not put beauty in a box and say it is only one type of person. We cannot put beauty on a pedestal and say it is so important, because it is not. The important beauty comes from the heart overflowing with Christ’s love. We are to reflect His beauty, and that comes from inside us.

There were quite a few other things, like the pride issues, but I don’t want to keep going on negatively.  I am afraid I cannot recommend this book. I hate to give unfavourable reviews, but this book sent off so many alarms to me.

 

 

 

Posted in Guest Post, Writing

A Guest Post….”When the Mirror Lies” by Kenzie M. Part Two

Hello again! Here is the second and last part of this splendid story, “When the Mirror Lies” by Kenzie M.  Once again, enjoy!

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“When the Mirror Lies” Part Two

Bridget closed her eyes and consented. All I want is to be beautiful.

After hours in the dress shop trying to pick the right dress for Bridget to wear to the pageant, she finally pointed to a blue dress in the corner. It was a simple pattern, but it fit Bridget’s personality and she loved it. “I want to wear this one.”

“No,” Diana pushed another mirror in front of Bridget and held the blue dress up beside her so that she could compare it to the extravagant dress she had on. “It’s too plain. It makes you look drab.”

Bridget was determined to put her foot down on this argument. “I like it. I want to wear it.”

Diana squinted at her in the mirror. “You foolish girl; you’re never going to be beautiful enough. You have to try harder. Look at your complexion,” she pointed at

Bridget in the mirror, “You’re so flawed. We need to get more make-up on you.”

Bridget watched Diana walk away and she continued to stare at her reflection in the mirror. A few tears silently slipped down her cheeks.

“Don’t cry,” Diana barked at her, “It makes your eyes look red. And we need to talk about getting you on a diet. Your waist isn’t quite thin enough.”

Bridget wiped her tears with the back of her hand. She closed her eyes and tried to bring to memory all the times her Father had told her she was beautiful. After all, He was the King. She should be seeking His approval alone. But His words of endearment and the way He always told her that she was His beautiful princess seemed to fade from her mind as she gazed in the mirror. All she could see staring back at her was Diana’s smirking face telling her that she was not good enough. And suddenly she didn’t see anything beautiful about her reflection. She could only see flaws staring back at her.

She resolved in that moment to do everything that Diana instructed her to do. I’ll do anything to be beautiful. But as the days progressed, no matter how hard Bridget worked, Diana was always there in the mirror reminding her that she was somehow still not beautiful enough.

Finally, the day of the pageant arrived. Before heading to the dress shop, Bridget took a detour and stopped by the lake that was behind the castle. She stared out across the shining waters and let the tears fall freely down her cheeks. Even when she wasn’t in the dress shop, Diana’s words were ringing through her head. And she realized that she believed every single word. I’m not beautiful enough. She reached into the pocket of her plain skirt and pulled out a mirror that Diana had given her. Gazing at her reflection just brought on a fresh rush of tears. “You’re not beautiful!” she cried aloud as she took the mirror and threw it as hard as she could. It landed with a splash in the middle of the lake.

“Who told you that?” a voice said softly from behind her.

Bridget whirled around. She saw her Father standing there and her eyes fell down to her feet. “Diana did,” she whispered, “And the mirror.”

The King walked to His daughter’s side and touched her shoulder gently. “My beautiful Bridget,” He tilted her chin up so that she was forced to look into His eyes. “Do you really think that their opinion of you matters?” He asked gently.

Bridget nodded vigorously. “Of course,” she replied.

“But it doesn’t,” He corrected her. “To the mirror you will never be beautiful enough. There will always be something wrong with your reflection. But to Me, you are the most beautiful girl there ever could be. I made you, my dear girl. I made you beautiful for Me. You don’t have to try harder or be someone that you’re not. You are already beautiful, because I say you are beautiful.”

Bridget felt more tears falling down her cheeks. She took a step forward and fell into her Father’s open arms. “How do I get the voices in the mirror to stop screaming inside my head, Daddy?” she said quietly, looking up at the King.

“Remember My words, my princess,” the King smiled at her lovingly and directed her gaze to the shimmering lake in front of them.

As Bridget gazed at her reflection in the water, her breath caught in her throat. The voices in her head stopped and she suddenly didn’t feel a need to change anything about her reflection. As she stood on the shore beside her King, she knew she was beautiful. And it wasn’t because of her hair or her dress. It was because He told her that she was.

“Never forget, my daughter,” the King whispered as they continued to gaze at the reflection in the lake. “When the mirror lies, remember the truth….You are beautiful.” 

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And there we have it! I, for one, enjoyed it, and I hope you did too! Thank you so much, Kenzie for contributing your writing to share here! I really appreciate it! <3

I thought I’d share some thoughts I had on “When the Mirror Lies”, so if you’d like, read on…

We are beautiful because He says we are. How true is that?

And why does He tells us we are beautiful? Because He is. And we are made in His image.

Beauty is not just a picture, a look. Beauty is who God is. He is beauty. Beauty is within each of our grasps, because it within us – designed in us as we reflect our Lord’ awe-ing image, His beauty. It is awe-inspiring, to think that beauty is not how we look – it is Who our God is and what He sees in us! Truly magnificent, if you ask me.

Once again, thank you, Kenzie!! And readers, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this short story! (If you would like to read more by this author, she frequently posts short stories in her sister’s magazine, which I shared about here).

Posted in Guest Post, Writing

A Guest Post….”When the Mirror Lies” by Kenzie M. Part One

Hello! Today I have a special treat for you all. A guest post from my lovely friend Kenzie! And it’s a remarkable story, too, one I hope you will enjoy. I will be splitting it up into two parts – one half today, and the other tomorrow, so be sure to check back! And as always – I love to hear from my readers, so please don’t be afraid to comment. =) Enjoy this short story:

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“When the Mirror Lies” By Kenzie M.

 

     It was exquisite.

     Bridget was sure she had never seen anything like it before. She cupped her hands around her face as she peered into the window and squinted at the marvelous dress. Her fingers longed to touch the soft silk material, and her eyes took in the beauty of the delicate beads and lace neckline. “Oh if only I could have that dress”, she thought to herself as she reluctantly pulled herself away from the window. She pushed her dark hair over her shoulder and cast one last look at the beautiful dress with her piercing blue eyes. With a sigh, she slowly turned around so that her back was to the dress shop. 

     “Aren’t you going to come in and try it on?” a voice called to her as she was walking away.

     Bridget whirled back around. She peered curiously at the middle-aged woman who had called to her. This wasn’t the owner of the dress shop, and none of the employees ever came outside to chase after customers. “No, I have to be going. But thank you for the offer,” she replied politely. She pulled her hooded cloak more tightly around her shoulders. Perhaps this woman had recognized her as the King’s daughter? She had hoped to keep her identity a secret on this trip into the village.

     “Come now, you have to at least try it on,” the older woman persisted.

     Bridget hesitated for a moment before finally relenting and following her back into the dress shop. “Where is Miranda?” she asked curiously, inquiring about the shop owner.

     “Miranda isn’t here today.”

     Bridget stopped in the doorway of the shop and crossed her arms across her chest. “If you don’t mind me asking, who are you?”

     The woman winked at her and smiled. “I’m glad you asked. My name is Diana. I’m sure you’re curious as to the reason I am here.” At Bridget’s nod, Diana continued, “I’m here looking for a star.”

     Bridget was confused. “What do you mean?” she asked slowly.

     “The next village over hosts an annual beauty pageant and it’s the largest around. So I am here looking for a beautiful girl who can be the next pageant star. If you think you have a chance, why don’t you try the dress on?” Diana explained.

     Bridget stared at the dress in the window for a long time. She hesitantly pushed her hood off of her dark hair and looked up at Diana. “I’m the princess,” she admitted, “The King’s daughter. I don’t think I should participate. Besides, my Father has taught me that true beauty is not how many beads you have on your dress or the amount of jewelry you wear. I am beautiful because my Father tells me I am beautiful. His opinion is the only one that matters. ”

     Diana threw her head back and laughed. “Silly girl, I’m not sure your Father has been honest with you.” She touched Bridget’s hair and looked her up and down critically. “There is so much we could do to improve your beauty. Let’s get started right away.” She called to another employee and hurriedly set up a dressing room for Bridget to change in. They also pulled up a chair and dumped a pile of make-up onto the table.

     Bridget gazed on the scene, her mind swirling. I should just leave. Everything inside of her was pulling her out of the shop and back to the castle, but yet she stayed. It was something that Diana had said. “There is so much we could do to improve your beauty.” What did she mean by that? Was Bridget’s beauty somehow flawed that it needed improving? The fear of not being beautiful enough latched its icy fingers around her heart, and so she pulled the dress into her arms and hurried into the dressing room.

     The rest of the day passed in a swirl for Bridget as Diana gave her a make-over and made her try on every dress in the store. By the time she got home, she was exhausted. As she fell asleep, she resolved to not go back to the dress shop the following day. But when the morning light awoke her from her slumber, she felt a pull clawing at her to go back to the shop. I need to be more beautiful. Diana had warned her that if she didn’t come back, she would never be beautiful enough.

     “I’m here,” Bridget murmured as she walked into the dress shop to the sound of the clanging bells on the door handle.

     “Finally,” Diana grumbled as she pushed Bridget down into a chair and pulled out a pair of scissors from the drawer. “I need to give you a hair cut right away.”

     Bridget touched her curls and shook her head. “No, thank you. I think its fine the way it is.”

     Diana gazed into the mirror with an amused look and locked eyes with Bridget. “You want to be beautiful, don’t you? Then do everything that I say.”

     Bridget closed her eyes and consented. All I want is to be beautiful.

 

     …….To Be Continued TOMORROW!