Sarah: A Heroine of the Old Testament

by Marek Halter

Paperback, 2005




Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group) (2005), 449 pages


Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML:The first novel in a dazzling new trilogy about the women of the Old Testament by internationally bestselling author Marek Halter. The story of Sarah�??and of history itself�??begins in the cradle of civilization: the Sumerian city-state of Ur, a land of desert heat, towering gardens, and immense wealth. The daughter of a powerful lord, Sarah is raised in great luxury, but balks at the arranged marriage her father has planned for her. The groom is handsome and a nobleman, but on their wedding day, Sarah panics and impulsively flees to the vast, empty marshes outside the city walls. There she meets a young man, Abram, a member of a nomadic tribe of outsiders. Drawn to this exotic stranger, Sarah spends the night with him, but reluctantly returns to her father�??s house. But on her return, still desperate to avoid another wedding, she drinks a poisonous potion that will make her barren and thus unfit for marriage. Many years later, Abram�??s people return to Ur, and he discovers that the lost, rebellious girl from the marsh has been transformed into the most splendid and revered woman in Sumeria�??the high priestess of the goddess Ishtar. But the memory of their night together has always haunted Sarah, and she gives up her exalted life to join Abram's tribe and follow the one true God, an invisible deity who speaks only to Abram. It is then that her journey truly begins�??a journey that holds the key to her remarkable destiny as the mother of nations. From the great ziggurat of Ishtar and the fertile valleys of Canaan to the bedchamber of the mighty Pharaoh himself, Sarah�??s story reveals an ancient world full of beauty, in… (more)

Media reviews

Translated from French; first of a trilogy about Canaan. The Old Testament story of Sarah, beautiful wife of Abraham, covering her early life as daughter of the lord of Ur, first menstruation and attendant ceremonies, running away from Ur for marriage to Abram (later Abraham), the tribe's years in
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Canaan, her barrenness, the court and bed of Pharaoh, Abram's impregnation of Hagar, the births of his sons Ishmael (from Hagar) and Isaac (from the aged Sarah), and his near-sacrifice of Isaac, prevented in this version by Sarah's maternal prayer. The book has no glossary, bibliography or Biblical references. The style is trite (e.g.: `He waited for her to go on, a severe expression in his eyes'; ); this is pop Biblical history.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member buckeyeaholic
Wonderfull. Another story based on characters from the Bible but not overwhelmingly religious. This mentions Gods, faith & believing more than The Red Tent (Diamant) but not so much that it was annoying. No offense but I'm not a religious person & I don't like books that preach to me.

This was
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almost as good as The Red Tent. Sarah is the first book in a trilogy.

The story follows Sarah from the time of her first blood to her death, through her attempts to avoid arranged marriages, her time as a revered handmaiden to a God worshipped by her tribe, her marriage to Abraham and thier travels & trials.

Wonderfully written & narrated (I listened to the audio).
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LibraryThing member kaelirenee
If you really want to read a book about a biblical woman, read the Red Tent. Sarah is OK, not great, but not something I have a desire to read again and again.
LibraryThing member amf0001
I loved the rent tent and it spawned an industry of it's own. This is not as good. The characters are not as developed, the history is more made up. I didn't finish it but read about 60 pages and started skimming. Great cover! Not a keeper
LibraryThing member rayski
A story of biblical characters Sarah and Abraham, told by Sarah.
LibraryThing member bwookie
Wish I could give it 3 and 1/2 stars. I like it enough to read the second book in the series, but it didn't *wow* me. The ending is too rushed. And Abraham--man! what a douche bag! Not a very likeable chap. I guess he DID try to sacrifice his son...Somewhat comparable to THE RED TENT. Though THE
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RED TENT is sooooooo much better.
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LibraryThing member sexy_librarian
I admit that I do not know much about the Biblical figure of Sarah, wife to the near mythic Abraham, but this re-imagining of her left me, at most, curious about what the Bible tells us of her. In this book, she is portrayed as an eternally beautiful, fiercely independent woman, uncommon for the
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time. Also, her barren womb is attributed to a potion taken as a child to prevent pregnancy in an unwanted marraige. I honestly do not know that this is proven in the Bible or any other historical text, but I fell that it is a bit of a stretch. Though it does create more drama and an interesting read, it seems to have become a trend to recast historical female characters into modern feminist roles.
But this is my own beef with writing memes. I will say that it is well written, with good rising and falling action, and it did make me want to go back and reference the Bible, and catch up on all those things I forgot from church.
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LibraryThing member indygo88
I enjoy the biblical historical fiction novels mostly due to the fact that it helps me brush up on my biblical history & enables the bible to come a little more alive for me. I had heard Marek Halter was a fairly good author of the genre, but I'm not sure this lived up to my expectations. I earread
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this on audio (abridged), & while the reader was clear & concise, she had a rather brusque quality with her reading, which rather turned me off at times. I will likely read the 2nd & 3rd books in the Canaan Trilogy for the aforementioned reasons to satisfy my curiosity, but I think the abridged versions of those will be satisfactory.
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LibraryThing member saskreader
I enjoy reading fictional accounts of biblical stories, and this novel was an adequate example of the genre. It is very easy to read, mainly because of the breakneck pace the author takes, especially toward the end. I think my main complaint of this novel is that too much of it is focused on
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Sarai's pre-Abram life (which is largely imagined) and less on Sarah's actual experiences with her long-awaited pregnancy. Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac is covered in about two pages, rushed toward the end. I still didn't mind reading the story, however, and I will try the others in the series.
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LibraryThing member chrystal
Yet another entry in the burgeoning subgenre of fictional portraits of biblical women (see, for example, Rebecca Kohn's retelling of the story of Queen Esther in The Gilded Chamber), Halter's novel (the first in a trilogy) adheres to a by now familiar formula: frank sexual and emotional revelations
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presented against a backdrop of burnished interiors. Halter's Sarah is born Sarai, the daughter of one of the most powerful lords of Ur. At the age of 12, she is pledged in marriage to a man she has never met, and despite the finery of her bridal chamber ("Everything was new.... Linen rakutus as smooth as a baby's skin"), she flees in distress. Dragged back to her father's house, she doses herself with an herbal concoction that leaves her barren and is made a priestess of Ishtar, Ur's goddess of war. Six years later, an encounter with her childhood love, the handsome Abram, furnishes her with the chance she's been waiting for: she escapes with him and joins his nomadic tribe. Her contentment is short-lived, because Abram is called by God to leave his tribe and set out for a new land, whereupon the familiar (but freely adapted) Bible story unfolds. The misery Sarah feels at being barren, the indecent love her nephew Lot expresses for her, her encounter with Pharaoh and her quarrel with Hagar, the slave woman who gives Abram a child, shape the novel's second half. Halter isn't afraid to present headstrong Sarah as bitter in her old age, and his complex portrait of the biblical matriarch gives this solid if predictable novel a dash of freshness.
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LibraryThing member Heduanna
The story of Sarah, wife of Abraham, as told by a Harlequin Romance novellist. (Or he ought to be, anyway.) I gave up at page 165, though a quick skim of the later pages revealed no improvement.

Halter has re-cast the traditional Sarah (half-sister of Abraham, of Ur of the Chaldees) as the daughter
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of a mighty noble of Ur, while Abraham is a foreigner who lives outside the city walls. When they first meet, it becomes clear that they do not speak the same first language. Luckily, he speaks her language (albeit with a weird accent), and the issue never comes up again: when she goes to live with his people and marry him, she is immediately subject to everyone's gossip and gets not a moment of peace through incomprehension. This is, of course, after he rescues her from the temple of Ishtar, where she danced half-naked within arms length of an angry bull (repeatedly). Right...
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LibraryThing member CarmenMilligan
Really, really good...until the end. It just ENDS. It goes to a prologue-type narrative where it sums up everything in Sarah's life after Hagar and Ishmael left the camp. And then it was just over. Feels like there should be a sequel. I liked it so much until the end. Then it turned into
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0553816497 / 9780553816495
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