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A Passionate Hope

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Jill Eileen Smith has such an amazing gift of transporting her readers to a different time and place.  A Passionate Hope is no different as you are transported to Shiloh.  This book is such a beautiful story of restoration, a must read for all historical fiction fans.
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Jill Eileen Smith is one of my favorite authors. When I see that she has a new book out, I'm buying it! This is the Biblical story of Hannah in the old testament. Although the story is fictional, it's woven around Biblical fact. I love that I can read a story that keeps me totally engrossed while learning something at the same time. Hannah was the mother of the prophet Samuel, and she had to wait many, many years before the Lord blessed her and her husband with a child. Her husband (with her blessing) even took another wife so that he could have children. I would not have been okay with that! You will love this beautiful story.
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A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith tells the engaging story of Hannah, a woman who lived in ancient Israel. A descendant of Levi, Hannah had always loved to sing at the Tabernacle during the feasts and festivals. She loved and adored Adonai, her God, and praised Him in all that she did. When she married the love of her life, Elkanah, she thought she had it all. But they soon discovered she was barren. Questioning Adonai’s plan and purpose for her life, Hannah began to learn what it was to give it all to God.

I’ve been a fan of Smith’s book for quite a while now, so I jumped at the chance to review this novel of hers on NetGalley. She has such a way of bringing these Biblical figures to life without taking away from scripture. Of course, we don’t know exactly what these people thought or said exactly back then, but Smith does an excellent job making it all sound as though this is what happened. This is the type of Biblical fiction I enjoy, as opposed to the novel I previously reviewed ‘Joseph, Rachel’s Son’.

I was not completely aware of Hannah’s story, but I was glad I was able to read it now. The beginning of her story is very similar to my own. My husband and I have struggled for a few years conceiving, and continue to struggle, and even though I know God promised me children I so often falter and question his plan for me. Hannah is an amazing role model in her dedication to God, her attitude and graciousness towards others is still something I’m working on. Even towards her husband’s second wife she shows compassion, although her heart breaks.

But it all comes down to Hannah’s vow to God, that she would give her son to Him. A change was needed in the temple, a change was needed to bring Israel back to God, and she promised her son to Him to use for that purpose. For His purpose. And of course, God fulfilled His promise to Hannah. Her son was Samuel, one of the prophets of Israel, and the man who found David, the King of Israel.

Hannah’s story is a good reminder to trust in God, no matter your circumstances. Smith has done an extraordinary job bringing to life these Biblical figures and showing the love of God, and the promise of Jesus.
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I lovéd this book. I loved the way the author took the story of Hannah from scripture and made it come to life.  You could feel her anguish at being barren and feeling forsaken by God. While on the other hand Penninah, her sister wife, was having children one after another. The author showed the good vs. the bad, the ones who trust God to provide their needs and those who selfishly turn away from God. This is such an amazing story.
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I have read other books by Jill Eileen Smith and really enjoyed them, so I was excited to dig into this book. It did not disappoint! "A Passionate Hope" is a Biblical fiction novel that tells the story of Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. The story begins during her courtship with Elkanah, and goes until Samuel is a young adult. The characters, especially Hannah, were very relatable, and Smith made me feel Hannah's pain as she suffered through infertility and being accepted by Elkanah's family. Even though I was already very familiar with the Bible story, Smith added enough flair to keep my interest while still remaining true to the Bible. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical/Biblical fiction!
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Can a single, childless woman’s prayers change the world? Hannah and her husband, Elkanah loved each other deeply. They also loved God fervently. Passionately longing for restoration, they prayed for a deliverer. But as the long, wearisome years passed, nothing changed for the better. As Hannah was barren, Elkanah married Peninnah, who quickly bore children and cruelly taunted Hannah mercilessly. Hannah’s tearful prayers went unanswered. Would Hannah’s devotion and kindness amount to nothing? Will God answer her heart’s cries and agonizing pleas?

In the dusty streets of Shiloh, Jill Eileen Smith vividly brings to life a story of hope, patience, and deliverance. Even the most broken and irretrievably lost of all relationships can be mercifully restored by God’s benevolent love. A Passionate Hope is a novel about redeeming love, steeped in dramatic historical detail about real people, large as life, who suffering agonizing heartache, cry out to God and are transformed by the miracle of grace. Impeccable research and vivid prose brings the characters of the Bible to life. The themes of heartache, saving grace, fiery faith, redemption, and healing are excitingly interwoven into a dramatic finish. This is a well-drawn love story with wistful imaginings and soulful heart cries.

Jill Eileen Smith writes intriguing, spirit-filled fiction, about inspiring women of sterling character, drawn from the dusty margins of Biblical history, to illuminate their achievements like the sun shining in full strength. Her richly detailed settings and gift of graphic description give readers a strong sense of what life was really like in ancient Israel.
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If you like reading biblical fiction books, you will absolutely love this book! “A Passionate Hope” is Hannah’s story and is another book in the “Daughters of the Promised Land” series.

The book begins in 1141 BC and follows Hannah’s story as she becomes betrothed to Elkanah and as they marry and try to start a family. The entire book spans at least 40 years of their lives.

Through out the book I could feel Hannah’s heartache and longing to have a child leap from the chapters as the years went by and she still couldn’t conceive. Elkanah’s love and devotion to her regardless of her condition was so sweet and inspirational.

The author used the scriptures as her foundation for her story which mentions that Elkanah took a second wife for her to bear his children and that Hannah was “taunted by her continuously”.

The monthly and yearly heartache of not being able to get pregnant, extended family issues, wickedness of the people and priests, along with her husband taking a second wife; were all burdens Hannah faced but yet she continued to pray and have faith in God. Her husband continued to love her unconditionally, pray with her and seek guidance to help her.

I like that the book focuses mostly on Hannah but we also get to read from Elkanah’s and the second wife’s points of view through out the book. This story was very well written, lots of descriptive historical facts and details-very real and emotional.

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I received a copy of this book complimentary for blog and social media review. All opinions are my own.
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A Passionate Hope tells the story of Hannah, who is the mother of Samuel. Hannah has married the love of her life, Elkanah. She believes that she will have a happy life for him and bear him a son. However, Hannah’s dreams do not come true. After years of being barren, Elkanah is pressured by his family to take another wife. Hannah is forced to watch in humiliation as the other wife bares her husband’s children while she has none. Hannah questions why God will not grant her deepest desire? Hannah embarks on a deep journey of her faith and devotion to God.

   I have always been intrigued by Hannah’s story. She is one of the strongest believers in the Bible. She never once lost her faith in God. In A Passionate Hope, Mrs. Smith focuses on Hannah’s long years of suffering. The novel begins when Hannah is young and optimistic. She marries the man she loves and believes that she will soon give him children. Hannah is a very sympathetic figure. I felt her despair when she is forced to watch her husband marry another and now the other wife gives her husband what she cannot. Penniah was not a kind woman to her. She would often laugh and torment Hannah. Therefore, I empathized with Hannah’s sorrow. However, Hannah’s trials  made her stronger. While she did question God, Hannah never wavered in her faith. She never gave up hope that she would bear Elkanah a son.

   Overall, this novel is about faith, trials, and hope. The message of this book is to never give up. It is because of Hannah’s persistence and trust in God that she was finally granted a son. I thought all the characters were well-written. The story is richly detailed, and it was a very faithful retelling. There were some repetitive scenes in A Passionate Hope, and a few parts of the book read like a soap opera. However, Jill Eileen Smith proves why she is one of the top authors of Biblical fiction! Mrs. Smith astounds us again with another uplifting read! A Passionate Hope will thrill fans of The Red Tent, Rachel and Leah, and The Pharaoh's Daughter.
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Jill Eileen Smith gives us another spectacular work of Biblical fiction. Her story of Hannah allowed me to take a fresh look at this woman and once again be inspired by one who has gone before us. I you enjoy Biblical fiction then you can't go wrong with this one.
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This was a really good story. I loved the historical element of it. Very well written and easy to connect with the characters.
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I want to worship You, Adonai. But I don't know how anymore. I don't know how to live with constant battering and such a deep sense of loss. 

The story of Hannah of the Old Testament (see 1 Samuel) seen from her pain of desiring a child. The story was done well with excellent context. The context is so important as it tells the importance of children in the Jewish culture. Our culture has social security however, the children of the Old Testament times was the family social security. They were brought up to love and respect their parents and take care of them in their old age. Today's culture and biblical culture is so different but when looked thru the eyes of God's grace, it helps us to know the goodness of God. 

The marriage of Hannah and Elkanah was also in context. The foundation of their marriage was worship and their shared love of God. Since Hannah was unable to bear a child, Elkanah's parents put pressure on Elkanah to take another wife to bear children. Again, in our culture this seems barbaric and sexist, however, Elkanah and Hannah's decision was not easy and the consequences of that decision was the pulling force of their story. What I remember of the biblical account was Elkanah encouragement and love to Hannah saying that he was better than 10 children she would ever have. I find it interesting that God would record that for us today. The context of that statement was put in a whole new light for me.

I found this account of Hannah's story filled with God's grace in heart wrenching circumstances. It was not a lesson on positive thinking but when we remember the promises of God and rely on his goodness for our good. When we look thru the lens of redemption, our circumstances become secondary and worship becomes automatic. Like breathing air. 

A Special Thank You to Revell and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.
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What an incredible book! Scriptures leap to life as they are fleshed out with the daily “might-have-beens” in A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith. I’m not sure what I expected, but what I found was a novel rich in Biblical truth; accurate in Israeli history; strong in Jewish tradition.

Hannah and Elkanah and other characters are very well drawn. I quickly felt myself part of the turmoil that was Shiloh with her arrogant, deceitful, and lustful priests. My heart twisted with those of Elkanah and Hannah as they consider the trip to the temple with anticipation, fear, and longing.

Smith’s protagonists ask the hard questions: where is God when His temple and offerings are being desecrated, the young women ruined and families threatened by the priests?

Lots to love here. I greatly appreciate the spiritual foundation that Elkanah and Hannah’s marriage is based upon. I loved the inside look at Peninnah and her marriage to Elkanah. I was certainly struck by the fact that while the situation was less than ideal, one wife chose to honor God and make the best of it, while the other chose to curse and complain. Their happiness did not lie in their circumstance, but in their response to it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. No positive review is required and all opinions are solely my own.
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This book was so wonderful!!! I absolutely love this author and her accounts of Biblical stories! 
She makes them come alive and I’m always so disappointed when I come to the end!
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Hannah's Story is another classic by Jill Eileen Smith.  Her stories are all masterpieces...bringing the women in the Bible to life. Treat yourself to this read.  I did.
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The story of Hannah has long been a favorite of mine from scripture.  I also really enjoy biblical fiction, so this book was one I anticipated.  This story connects the reader to the biblical account in such a way that the characters come off the page.  It drives you to re-read the story from the Bible, but with new eyes.  This seems to be well researched and does a good job of staying true to the emotions that would have been experienced in such a situation.  This was the first time I had read anything by this author, but will be getting the rest of her books.
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Hannah's story is one that always resonated with me, so this retelling by Jill Eileen Smith was personally of interest, especially as I've not been disappointed by her other works of biblical fiction.  This is no exception.

As Hannah waits month after month, year after year, but still does not become pregnant, with comments and criticism around her, you can see the dampening of her spirit even while she struggles to keep her faith.  It reminds us that it's all right to question God.  He's big enough, He can handle our doubts.  Intertwined with Hannah's thoughts, prayers and personal struggles are fascinating details of daily life: for women, men and the priests with their families.  I have no idea how the author discovers all these, but they really bring the Bible story to life.
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I enjoy the series from Jill Eileen Smith, but this one is the first I got to read from Women of the promise land. I love it. Of course the author offers it’s own perspective, but I like to learn about the culture and history of those days. 
A fresh story, a new perspective, what more can you ask?
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Title: A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story

Author: Jill Eileen Smith

Series: Daughters of the Promised Land, #4

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Era: Biblical (Hannah, mother of Samuel)

Publisher: Revell Books

Source: from Netgalley (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

A sweet but heartbreaking but hopeful story of how Hannah’s life could have been. I really enjoyed it and finished it in just a couple days – and as it was almost four hundred pages (380, anyway), that’s a wonder!

PLOT: 4/5
I believe it’s very important to take all Biblical fiction with a grain of salt. We don’t know that was how it was for sure. And basing an entire novel – especially a long novel like this one! – based on the life of someone from the Bible about whose life very few details were given is very risky.

I did like it, though! Don’t get me wrong. It was entertaining and for the most part kept my interest. At times it seemed to drag a wee bit – and I was curious as to when this whole boring life of Hannah’s was going to end! ;) But it was a great story with a great message.

I don’t know that I believe that Hannah was approaching middle-age (in modern-day terms) when Samuel was born. It just wasn’t what I’d thought of whenever I read the Biblical account.

I always imagined the story like this: I bet she was married around fourteen or fifteen and had Samuel when she was, oh, late twenties. I don’t remember if it was specified in the Biblical account that Hannah was the first wife; I kind of thought of her as the second, younger wife. And I don’t think it took her that long to think to offer her son as a Nazarene. That would have been the first thing that occured to me … ;)

But really, we don’t know, so this account is as likely as any other. It was definitely believable, which is more than I can say about some Biblical fiction!

Hannah was an amazing character. Her faith, patience, and kindness were incredible. She was the kind of person I know I’d want to be friends with. Definitely worth reading the book just to see her Christ-like example of life even through trials. (And the girl didn’t even have Christ as an example, come to think of it!)

Elkanah was pretty caring and protecting. At first I was skeptical, but I came to understand his motivations for taking a second wife, etc., and I forgive him – in part, at least. Bigamy is never a good thing – it’s completely against God’s perfect design for marriage. Still, I came to understand why he did it, so it made me a bit more sympathetic.

It was also hard to like him because he treated Penninah kinda unfairly. I mean, he just married her for children, and then made it clear to her through his actions that he didn’t really care for her.

So yeah, despite his sweetness to Hannah, I didn’t love Elkanah.

I was surprised to find myself sympathizing with Penninah. She was a truly terrible person, honestly; just a whiny little brat. But I get where she’s coming from, and I wanted her to have some sort of happy ending. (Though if she died young, I wouldn’t have minded that either! :P )

I hate Hophni and Phineas. Even more than I did based on reading the Biblical accounts. And their poor wives … 
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A Passionate Hope is such a touching, heart warming story.  I mourned with her, I cried with her, I prayed with her, I got disappointed with her.  I got aggravated and confused with her.  I didn't give up with her, I hung on with her.  I questioned with her, and then I rejoiced with her.  My tears stung my pillows for her.  I was shocked with her.  I was angry at her husband for her.  I was angry with her husband's second wife for her and I asked GOD why with her.  I just couldn't understand and then I realized through her - hey I am not GOD and HE has HIS reasons and like her I just have to keep praying and HE WILL answer when it is right.  I absolutely love Jill Eilleen Smith as an Author - she is truly gifted as an author - and GOD does use her to tell Biblical stories and I am honored to read her books - -and I pray I get to read her next one - I truly do.......I hope you do too......
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Jill Eileen Smith is a gifted writer when it comes to Biblical fiction. She brings to life the characters from the Bible as well as the time period in which they lived. She also gives a new perspective to the life and times of of approximately 1100 BC and gives her readers an insightful glimpse into the life of a woman from the Bible. 

The story of Hannah is found in I Samuel. Hannah was a strong, faith filled woman who married the love of her life Elkanah. But she finds herself after many years still barren. She deals with lots of family discord in Elkanah's huge family compound. Then, to top all this, Elkanah's parents coerce him into taking a second wife who hates Hannah and delivers one child after another. Doubts and sorrow surround Hannah which make her so human, yet she still holds faithful to her God. She is a woman of prayer and dedication to God. 

Smith does an excellent job of pulling me into the daily life of a family compound with the noisy children, the scent of the sheep, the spinning of the looms, and the clanking of pots and pans making the life and times of this Bible period come alive. I liked that she also included the horrible corruption in the temple that was taking place then to help us understand the need for a judge such as Samuel, Hannah's son from God, to restore God's people and God's laws. 

This is book 4 in her Daughters of the Promised Land series, but can be read as a stand alone.
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