Book Review: A Passionate Hope

5 Feb

Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love, for each other, for their God, and for his tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

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? Why does God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?


Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, the Daughters of the Promised Land, the Wives of the Patriarchs, and The Loves of King Solomon series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Contact Jill through email (, her website (, Facebook (, or Twitter (


My Impressions:

Although I have read the story of Hannah from 1 Samuel numerous times, I have never read a fictionalized account of her life. Hers is a story worth telling, and I am so glad that Jill Eileen Smith has included it in her Daughters of The Promised Land series. A Passionate Hope is an outstanding novel and probably my favorite so far by Smith. Both Hannah’s personal story and the culture that she lived in comes alive in this sometimes sad, sometimes poignant, and ultimately victorious retelling of the Biblical narrative. If you are a fan of Biblical fiction, this book is a must-read.

Hannah is very much a woman of her time — dutiful to family and God, her greatest desire is to be the mother of sons to her husband Elkanah. But tragically, her prayers go unanswered year after year. In a culture where children are an important inheritance from the Lord, Hannah’s empty arms mean scorn, derision, pity, and despair. Hannah’s barrenness is seen as a failure on her part, and her husband has every right to take another wife to bear him a child. When Elkanah does just that, God’s plan for marriage is overturned for what man reasons to be the the correct course.

I loved the character of Hannah as portrayed by Smith. She remains strong in her faith in God, despite the unfair treatment by her husband’s family and his second wife, Penninah. But her faith reflects those of us all — doubt and sorrow often creep in. Her question to God — Do You see me? — resonated with my heart. But Hannah remains firm in her trust in God, even when Elkanah is persuaded by others to help God along by marrying someone to bear him children. I couldn’t help but like Elkanah, but he is a flawed character. In the Bible, as well as in the novel, he asks Hannah why he isn’t enough for her. But he never believes Hannah can be enough. That’s the overpowering pull of societal expectations. In our modern world we can see how wrong his reasoning is, but aren’t there things that we place higher than important relationships (including our relationship with God)? Penninah is a disagreeable character in the Bible, and in A Passionate Hope she isn’t any better. As portrayed in the novel, Penninah is very human in her desire for love and her jealous and bitter behavior towards Hannah. No, I didn’t like Penninah, but I could see why she became the way she was. The corruption of the priesthood during this time in Israel’s history as depicted by Smith showed the importance of Samuel’s birth and made me want to reach for my Bible to see just what was going on. The best of Biblical fiction does that, and A Passionate Hope is one of the best.

A Passionate Hope is well-written and well-researched. Its pages will help you see the Bible with fresh eyes and will urge you to read for yourself God’s word.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

6 Responses to “Book Review: A Passionate Hope”

  1. thepowerofwords2016 February 5, 2018 at 6:27 pm #

    I always love your thoughts, Beckie. Smith is one of my favorite writers of biblical fiction and I’m eager to start this one soon. I became interested in Hannah many years ago after hearing a message by Pastor Cymbala of The Brooklyn Tabernacle, and it sounds like Jill’s book has a similar theme.

    • rbclibrary February 5, 2018 at 9:15 pm #

      I loved this book. Hannah became very real to me. Her story has always been special to me, but Jill’s portrayal was so much more complex than I could have imagined. Enjoy it!

  2. bellesmoma16 February 5, 2018 at 7:03 pm #

    I just got my copy, and I’m totally excited to read it. Now, after your excellent review, I’m really ready to read this book! 😊

    • rbclibrary February 5, 2018 at 9:12 pm #

      There was so much more I could have said. It is an excellent book! Enjoy!


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