How ’bout a good novel?

January 11, 2017

good-novelI 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.

28 comments on “How ’bout a good novel?
  1. Sapana V says:

    Good review. I will love to give it a try.

  2. One of the things I enjoy about being in a book group is being introduced to books I might otherwise overlook. Your review serves the same purpose–this sounds intriguing. Thanks, Carol!

  3. Raya says:

    This makes me want to read more. I like reading books that delve deeper into stories from the Bible.

  4. robin masshole mommy says:

    That sounds like a great book. I will definitely have to add it to my reading list.

  5. Adriana says:

    Very good review.I want to read this book for sure!

  6. Alexandra says:

    Great review- sounds like an interesting read!

  7. KATJA says:

    I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to. This book is going on my list immediately and I’m actually gonna start working through that list too.
    Katja xxx

  8. Emily Davis says:

    Awesome review. I was raised Christian and have a hard time 100% identifying that way now, so I totally understand. I’ll definitely check this book out!

  9. George says:

    Great review! I cant remember the last time i read something outside the school but this article makes me want to pick up my old reading habit.

  10. Well, you’ve definitely got my attention. This looks like a really interesting read – I’m adding it to my TBR.

  11. Amber Myers says:

    This sounds really intriguing. I love to read so I’ll add this to my list!

  12. Diane is an amazing woman and I love her stories. You were very honoured to be given a copy of her book and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I just love the cover artwork before even looking at the content!

  13. Heather says:

    It sounds like a good book. I often wonder why the Lord makes us choose between family and Him. Maybe reading the book, I’d understand. I always remember that story in the first testament where one of the father’s took his son up to the top of a hill to sacrifice him to the Lord. I still to this day don’t understand why God would want any of us to kill our children in his name even if this father loved this child so deeply and it was a lesson. I’m obviously not getting something…but that will always bother me about what is supposed to be a loving God.

  14. This sounds like an interesting read! Ty for the review I am going to have to add it to my reading list <3

  15. kelly reci says:

    waaa im bat at reading books! but my sister will surely love this novel. I should show this site to her!

  16. julie porter says:

    Thank you for the recommendation. I am always on the hunt for new authors and there is nothing I love more than finding one I love who is prolific! I will definitely check out Diane.

  17. Great book review, and it goes to show it is ok to step out of your comfort zone even with reading material. I’m not very fond of books about other cultures either, but hey, you make it sound interesting, and you tried a novel that was different from your normal reads and you loved it. Thanks for sharing!

  18. amanda says:

    this sounds like my kind of book – i like an epic story like this. will check it out.

  19. This sounds fascinating, and I’m adding it to my ever-growing list. Nothing better than a good novel.

  20. Kaitlyn says:

    I have a hard time with ethical dilemma type books because they seriously give me anxiety! I can never decide what I would choose. So hard! I may need to check this book out.


  21. Sounds like an interesting book! Love reading about struggles others are facing! Thanks for the great review.

  22. Krysten says:

    I don’t consider myself a Christian anymore either, but I love reading about religion and religious fiction. I feel like in religion is when you get the most tested and it always makes a phenomenal story. Thank you for reading this book for us!

  23. Sounds like a wonderful book. Is this fiction?

  24. Elizabeth says:

    Sounds like a great novel! I admit the title had me thinking it might be a sequel to Moby Dick (and the famous first line – “Call me Ishmael.” lol! 🙂

  25. This book sounds like it would completely grab my attention and keep hold of it until the end; in other words, its now on my “must read” list!

  26. Her book sounds interesting. Happy she even has a blog series to follow along.

  27. Elizabeth O. says:

    This is such an interesting story! It’s going to be tough to put down until you’re done with the whole thing. I think it’s definitely something that women should read.

  28. I have read also a novel that deals with spirituality. Those are written by Paulo Coelho. Have you read his novels? The one you wrote in here is quite interesting too. I wonder who did she choose in the end. I think she was caught in the dilemma.

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "How ’bout a good novel?"
  1. […] begins in 600 BC, a story about family, betrayal, relationships, faith–it’s about life. I wrote about it when it came out– I loved it! And yes, it has a bit to do with the Book of Mormon. Give it a […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.