Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband's new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah's cruelty count for nothing? Will God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?
Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.
Reviewer: Lynn Rountree
Move over Francine Rivers, your kindred sister has arrived! This is the first book that I have read by this author and it will NOT be my last.
Intriguing, captivating & informative are just a few words I would use to describe this book and style of writing. The Prologue of the book drew me in and brought excitement to my heart about continuing on.
It helped that I have already studied this biblical story and its history but that pre-knowledge is not necessary because she unfolds the details of this story in the same way you would discover details about a close friend's life, AS you do life with them. That is exactly how this felt, I felt as if I was in the story, with the characters, doing life with them.
Knowing that this book is biblically based and historically intertwined with real customs and details of the time period, made it all that much more enriching and I actually felt my heart burn within me as I read on. I am excited to go find more books by this author. I WOULD DEFINITELY recommend this book with a whopping 5 stars! I plan on sharing the copy I have right away!
Reviewer: Crystal P.
I've only read a handful of biblical fiction, and when I first saw this book's cover, I just knew I had to read it. This was my first time reading a book by Jill Eileen Smith, and it was a great experience. I totally want to read some more books by her.
So I remember reading 1 Samuel a few times in the past, but it took me a while to connect everything in this story to the real thing and made some wrong assumptions about what was going to happen a few times because that's the imaginative part of me. The writing was wonderfully done, and although I knew what was going to happen, the way the author wrote this story was simply divine.
The way the author had described Hannah was wonderful. Although she had her flaws at times, that really made me like her more. I can't imagine what it would be like to not be granted the ability to give birth to children for a long time and was amazed in general when I thought about how she put her trust in the Lord. It really must have been hard for her to allow her husband to marry Peninnah, and to have that rude woman spout awful remarks about how Hannah was barren. Again, it's just really amazing when I think about it. I really loved how the author included scripture, made the story somewhat preachy, and highlighted Hannah's faith in the Lord as well as her actions for Him.
Elkanah was another one I was fond of. The Bible doesn't reveal much about how he felt about marrying Peninnah, but I imagine it would be similar to the way it was described in this story. I don't even understand why he would marry someone like her, as the Bible does not go into detail about this. At least he had Hannah, but still.
Although I really didn't dislike anything in this book, I chose to rate it four stars because it was not my top favorite book and not something I could really rave about. I still liked it, of course, but it wasn't the best thing I've read. It was really hard for me to review this book, when remembering that this is just an idea of what could have happened to Hannah.
If you are fond of biblical fiction, then you will want to pick up this book! I would totally take a look at Hannah's story in the Bible (1 Samuel).
Reviewer: Jill Jones
Hannah’s story is told in 1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:11. Her devotion to God, abiding love for Elkanah and her overwhelming desire for a child is evident in these one-and-a-half chapters of the Bible and is the heart of Jill Eileen Smith’s “A Passionate Hope”, book four in the “Daughters of the Promised Land” series.
Even though they lived in a culture where spouses were chosen for them by the parents, Elkanah and Hannah truly loved each other. But as the years revealed Hannah could not bear a child to be Elkanah’s heir, he is forced by his family to take another wife, Peninnah, an unbearable woman who torments Hannah relentlessly over her inability to produce an heir for their husband.
Hannah and Elkanah were distraught over the evil ways of Hophni and Phinehas, sons of the High Priest, Eli. During one of the feasts, Hannah prays desperately for a son and vows to God to give him to the Priest to do God’s work if only He will give her the son she has longed for so long.
Hannah’s story is a tale of barrenness, not only of childbearing, but of faith and righteousness. The Jews did not have a king (God was supposed to fill that role) and everyone did as they pleased. Because God gave people freedom to do as they pleased, it was rare they chose to be righteous.
But Hannah’s story does not end with barrenness. Because of her passionate hope for the future, she prayed a prayer of desperation, and it was out of God’s love for Hannah and His people that He answered her prayer and the prayers of a nation through her son, Samuel, who not only brought joy to Hannah, but also salvation to a nation on the cusp of destruction.
Smith’s imaginative tale of hope and redemption in the story of Hannah is my favorite in the series. I believe Hannah was as remarkable in real life as she was presented in “A Passionate Hope”.
Book provided courtesy of Baker Publishing.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Sometimes the smallest stories in the Bible turn out to be the biggest, life-changing ones. Author Jill Eileen Smith has taken the story of Hannah (the mother of Samuel) and breathed so much life into it that I feel as if I've gone back in time and mourned and rejoiced along with Hannah herself.
The characters of Hannah and her husband Elkanah were very well-developed, and while the two were wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord, the author has shown that even then sometimes we fail miserably at being obedient to the One we serve.
Like Abraham and Sarah who prayed for a son and whom God promised they would have, Elkanah gave into the sin of polygamy by refusing to wait on God. How Hannah endured the taunts and barbs of his new wife Penninah, who gave him child after child, is shown throughout this book. I was actually angry at Elkanah because he deliberately cheated on his wife, to get what he wanted - children. Granted, he was forced into the marriage by his mother, and even by Hannah who grudgingly agreed but still, he could have said no.
But then the theme of this story would not have come through - that of waiting on God for our answers to prayer. That, I believe is the hardest part of being obedient to God. We like to think we can force His hand or prod it along to get our way, but God has the final say in the matter.
Smith did an excellent job including biblical accounts of the evil priests Phineas and Hophni, preparing the way for the son Hannah would eventually have - Samuel, who would help bring change to Israel.
If you want an inspiring read, that will stay with you days later grab a copy of A Passionate Hope!
Book provided courtesy of Baker Publishing.
Reviewer: Valerie Jackson
I don’t normally read historical novels, particularly Christian ones, as I can rarely relate to the culture of the characters. However, having recently studied Hannah’s story I thought I would give this one a try. It is usually difficult to retain interest in a work of fiction if you already know the key points of the tale, as well as how the story ends. But in this case, I was never bored, as Jill Smith surprised me again and again with the direction in which she took her tale.
Both the frustrations and the determination of Hannah were very relatable. A picture is also painted of the backgrounds of the other main characters, so that we may understand their motivations and, at least somewhat, empathize with them also. The author also tackled the cultural climate of trying to worship under a corrupt priesthood. And the daily cycles of the life of a woman of this period is also well delineated, with no jarring hints of a modern mindset.
There was not a lot of depth of characterization at the beginning, but then again, the very young rarely have a lot of depth of character. As Hannah faced the challenges of being a barren wife and unhappy daughter-in-law, we see her faith grow. By the tale’s end, the combination of strength and femininity that was Hannah’s from the very beginning, became the fully mature hallmarks of that woman whose faith and compassion are the result of a trial by fire. She is the sort of woman we would like to become. And the sort of woman we would like to know.
Book provided courtesy of Baker Publishing.