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I’ll put my hands up to not having done much with The Bible since I was a teenager, but there’s a movement among some authors to give voices to the previously flatter-than-flat figures of the Good book—the women. As a determined feminist, I couldn’t resist. I’ve read the first two books of Linda Makkimane’s Her Story (centred around two women, Mary, the mother of Christ and a woman healed by Jesus. Amanda Bedzrah’s take on the Old Testament figure of Leah, the first wife of Jacob, called to me to read it.
It’s an easy-to-read page-turner. It’s the story of a woman forced into an arranged marriage with a man who doesn’t want her. She is her father’s property, a conniving man who stops at nothing to get what he wants—including selling his daughter. The hapless fool on the receiving end doesn’t love her and is tricked into marriage when he thinks he’s getting her sister Rachel. He is in love with her and has waited and worked for seven years to win her hand. He’s none too pleased when he discovers the deception;. However, he still spends a week using Leah for all the purposes of marriage. The deal is that he works for another seven years and delegates Leah to the position of unloved drudge and baby-machine.
Little thought is usually given to Leah, and the author has done an excellent job of imagining her plight. You can’t ignore the life the unfortunate woman lived. Yet she finds comfort and consolation in her children and her God. She maintains her dignity, and despite the odds, she earns the respect of her husband. They come to a comfortable place together in their old age.
This happy ending takes a few minor liberties with the Bible story. In the one written a few years before this book, Jacob is said to have taken Rachel’s maid Bilhah as his primary partner after the death of Rachel. But the author says up-front that this is a work of fiction, so I won’t quibble—and why spoil a cracking story? Excellent.
Born in South Shields, Tyne & Weir, Katherine Black lives on the tip of the beautiful British Lake District. She lives with her partner, father-in-law and 4 dysfunctional but co-mingling pets. She is mother, grandmother and secret keeper of all. She is Best Book Editors’ principal editor.