I read a good novel the other day.
Daughter of Ishmael, Promised Land, Broken Heart by Diane Stringam Tolley. Not only good. More than good, even!
I’m a big fan of stories that transport me to another land, another era and deeply into a character different than me. Diane’s new book is all those things and more. And really, not typical reading for me. Except that it’s a good novel.
Now, a couple of full disclosures. This book revolves around faith. I was raised Catholic and have my own spirituality and faith, but I don’t identify as a Christian any longer. That had no effect on my enjoyment of the story. And also, I’m a big fan of Diane’s books; she provided me a pdf of this one for an honest review.
I loved this book.
The main character, Hannah, is the daughter of Ishmael, who heads a high-ranking Jewish family. Her father is cousin to Lehi, a prophet at the time. The prologue ends with this intriguing sentence:
What distance had been covered, both in space and spirituality, since her idyllic girlhood days on her father’s property on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
That’s what this story is about.
And in that distance, Hannah’s beliefs are challenged and tested in very big ways. While she was raised with a belief in the scriptures and gospel and committed to Christ, the family takes a left turn and begins supporting Lehi. It’s a story that involves apostasy, suffering and battles with their Lord. It involves the deadly sins of greed, pride and envy. Marriage to a man not of her choosing and not of her deep faith.
In the end, Hannah must choose between her Lord and her husband and son. Would she have the courage to leave her family to follow her prophet? As the story went on, I thought I knew what her choice would be, and then I wasn’t so sure. I won’t ruin the ending for you by disclosing it.
She was trained as a journalist but the truth is, Diane’s a storyteller. Bigtime. It was easy to get involved with her characters, with the deeply emotional situations they found themselves in and to feel what they felt.
You want to read this book. Plus, it would make a beautiful gift for women in your life, for Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day or birthday. But make sure you get a copy for yourself.
And you will want to check out Diane’s other books on her website, here. Because she’s prolific.
Oh, and her blog–stories about growing up on a ranch are favorites of mine–check it out here.
You’ll love her. And you’ll love her book.