Daughter of the King by Carlene Havel is a Christian fiction that takes many liberties with the story of David. I hate having to describe this book as fiction because it is an expanded account of the books of 1 and 2 Samuel however so many facts are omitted, details added, and liberties taken that I have no choice. I enjoyed the story of David as recounted from the perspective of his first wife, Michal, the youngest daughter of King Saul, but having now finished the book I wish I had not read it. I am certain that there are many readers out there who will love this story but, for me, it varied too much for my preferences.
First, a few things I loved about the book. I did feel very emotionally connected to the characters. Even though the book started out a little bit slow I did feel an intimate emotional hook that made me want to read the story. Despite being familiar with the story of David I was uniquely drawn to this book because it is written from the perspective of his first wife, Michal. Later in the book this perspective became an issue for me but in the beginning it was a joy. Very rarely are we given insight into the perspective and feelings of a woman from the Old Testament so it was an enjoyable change. I also loved seeing Michal’s growth as the reader flips between Michal as a young adult and her memories as a child and her first year with David. By the end of the book we know Michal as an old woman beyond her child-bearing years. Being able to experience her entire story was wonderful, despite it not adhering completely to Biblical details.
I also appreciated that Havel began each chapter with a scripture verse. It helped to connect the Biblical story of David to her story about Michal. It kept the timeline consistent and allowed the reader to refer to the Bible for study, if desired. I have not yet referred to my Bible but I will probably be revisiting these stories now that I have read Daughter of the King.
One of the conflicts I had with this book was the love story between Michal and David. I know, it is clearly described as being a powerful love story from the Bible however I had issue with David’s overwhelming love for Michal. Biblical accounts tell of Michal’s deep love for David but there is no mention of David’s love for Michal. In fact, many speculate that she was more of a political pawn, married and kept because she was King Saul’s daughter and provided David with a legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. In Daughter of the King, Michal is depicted as David’s “beloved” and favorite wife but I do not recall any confirmation of that in the Bible. There are theories that he neglected her and kept her away from him, deliberately never providing her with children. Depicting them as the best of friends and dearly beloved was troubling for me.
I was also conflicted by the continual appearance of Michal after her public outburst at David’s dancing after returning home with the Ark of the Covenant. Biblically, this is the last we know of Michal other than that she died childless. The fact that her story continued for years in Daughter of the King and the book ends with her still maintaining a close friendship with David was something I did not anticipate.
I was also disappointed in the handling of Bathsheba. There was no mention of her husband, Uriah, whom David had killed so that he could marry Bathsheba and bear children. There is also no mention of the child that David and Bathsheba lost as punishment for David’s crime against God. There is also no mention of any of Bathsheba’s children other than Solomon who almost appears in the book as an afterthought. I was very disappointed in the lack of inclusion of Bathsheba and Solomon, especially considering their importance to David’s story.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and, if it had not been drawn from true Biblical history, I probably would have enjoyed it a great deal more. As its own stand-alone story it is wonderful! The characters are thrilling! Abigail was so sweet and innocent, Maachah and her children were so much fun to loathe and the new wives and concubines were obnoxious. David was appealing one moment and dastardly the next making him a realistic and lovable, though deeply flawed, hero. If this had been a story drawn completely from fiction I would have loved it completely however, fiction mixed with Biblical truth left me feeling disappointed. As I’ve said, there are so many who would love this book but unfortunately it let me down.
Closed the Cover