Friday, February 22, 2008

Review: Jezebel

Summary: There is no woman with a worse reputation than Jezebel, the ancient queen who corrupted a nation and met one of the most gruesome fates in the Bible. Her name alone speaks of sexual decadence and promiscuity. But what if this version of her story, handed down to us through the ages, is merely the one her enemies wanted us to believe? What if Jezebel, far from being a conniving harlot, was, in fact, framed?

In this remarkable new biography, Lesley Hazleton shows exactly how the proud and courageous queen of Israel was vilified and made into the very embodiment of wanton wickedness by her political and religious enemies. Jezebel brings readers back to the source of the biblical story, a rich and dramatic saga featuring evil schemes and underhanded plots, war and treason, false gods and falser humans, and all with the fate of entire nations at stake. At its center are just one woman and one man—the sophisticated Queen Jezebel and the stark prophet Elijah. Their epic and ultimately tragic confrontation pits tolerance against righteousness, pragmatism against divine dictates, and liberalism against conservatism. It is, in other words, the original story of the unholy marriage of sex, politics, and religion, and it ends in one of the most chillingly brutal scenes in the entire Bible.

Here at last is the real story of the rise and fall of this legendary woman—a radically different portrait with startling contemporary resonance in a world mired once again in religious wars. - random house

Some of you might remember that I won JEZEBEL by Lesley Hazleton a few weeks ago from Author Buzz. I had seen the book on a few website and I thought it would be a book that I would enjoy. For whatever reason, I was under the impression that it was a historical fiction book - couldn't tell you why. It's actually a well-researched biography of one of the most infamous women in the bible Jezebel.

Receiving this book in the mail (autographed too!) was so timely for me. I just recently started a bible study about courageous women in the bible. Unfortunately Jezebel isn't included in my study guide - the author must not think she showed courage in her actions. After reading Ms. Hazleton's book, she might have to rethink not including her.

I do have to admit that I do not consider myself to know much about the bible (that's one of the reasons that I'm taking a bible study), but I had heard of Jezebel and knew that she was considered a harlot. Beyond that, I had never read all of Kings (the books of the bible that tell Jezebel's story), and I didn't fully realize Jezebel's actions or even her brutal death. I think Ms. Hazleton did an amazing amount of research for this book and made many good points to support her view that Jezebel was framed.

I found this book to be absolutely fascinating! Whether you agree with Ms. Hazleton's basic premise or not, you will no doubt be impressed by her knowledge of the bible's characters and the times during which they lived. I loved that Ms. Hazleton had visited the Holy Land and her descriptions of the places were so real to me. I find all of the different countries, tribes and wars extremely confusing, but the author did a terrific job of explaining the finer details of them to a person with little Old Testament knowledge.

If you want a change of pace from the typical fiction picks, I highly recommend reading JEZEBEL. It would even make a terrific book club selection, and there is already a reading guide available. There are so many issues to discuss and even some controversial opinions in the book which could definitely spark discussion!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

OOOoo! This does sound fascinating. And I love bios.

heather (errantdreams) said...

What a fascinating concept for a book!

Lesley Hazleton said...

Hi Julie -- Loved the fact that the study guide to courageous women in the Bible didn't include Jezebel! That's why I wrote the book, of course: to bring her back into the discussion, re-create her in her own right. And yes indeed, so many of the issues involved in Jezebel's story are hotter than ever today -- flashpoints of political and religious debate making Jezebel as controversial now as she was then.
Thanks for picking up on that -- Lesley