Political intrigue, scandal, adultery and bitter sibling rivalry. Sounds like a story torn from todayís news, but itís not. These are a few of the storylines that India Edghill uses in her first novel, Queenmaker: The Story of King Davidís Queen. Queenmaker is a fictionalized account of Queen Michalís life in King Davidís royal court. Recent changes in pop culture favourites will put Queenmaker on everyoneís book list. Following in Anita Diamantís footsteps, Edghill has struck gold.
The character Michalís first-person narrative gives the story its gossipy Hollywood tell-all feel. Michal falls in love with a young shepherd named David, a friend of her older brother Jonathan. Her father, King Saul, a man whose mind seesaws between wisdom and insanity, allows David to marry Michal. Everyone is pleased except King Saul: he doesnít like Davidís bravado. A wedding, an attempt on the groomís life and a quick escape down a bedsheet rope from the bridal chamber do not make for a happy bride. David is exiled. Michal is imprisoned, her marriage to David put aside. Within the month she is married off to a much older man from another town. Michal spends her days and nights pining for David. Thatís a lot for a girl to experience before her fifteenth birthday.
Thereís a lot to be said for Michalís resolve and tenacity. She waits impatiently for David to come and rescue her. Within the year she learns David has married a woman of wealth and Michal becomes the very embodiment of the old saw ďHell hath no fury like a woman scorned.Ē Ten years pass and Michalís hatred for David has diminished from a raging fire to a low simmer. Michal has come to love her new husband and his children. At last, she finds peace.
But David is a showman, an opportunist and that showdown with Goliath puts him in good stead with the Israelites. In time he becomes King and summons Michal to be his queen. Again Michal is separated from a husband who loves her and sent to live in a strange land.
Edghillís King David is boyishly charming and devilishly cunning. Oh yes, and heís a playboy of biblical proportions. Perhaps he is the worldís first recorded sex addict? He is all dazzle and no substance, and Michal is the only woman who is not blinded by his brilliant light.
This King David made me think that he was the Bill Clinton of the Bible, Michal his Hilary and Bathsheba his Monica. The battle of wills between Michal and David make for a fast-paced story. A Bible verse begins each chapter for those readers who are as obsessive about cross-referencing and fact checking as I am.
Edghill has crafted a story that reads like contemporary fiction from an ancient tale. Its refreshing prose and breezy manner make it a delight to read. This novel has lust, sex, and power. If only my Sunday School teacher had had such an imagination. If you enjoyed Anita Diamantís The Red Tent, then Queenmaker should be the next novel on your reading list.