I enjoy historical fiction, but I seem to be unable to combine my interest in the biblical world with a good story because worthwhile books are just not being written. I was happy to hear that Tim Frank has just published a book set in the late 8th century of Judah. Daughter of Lachish tells the story of a girl who survived the siege of Sennacherib and tries to rebuild her life in its aftermath. From the bookjacket:
The mighty Assyrian army has invaded the tiny kingdom of Judah to crush the rebellion against the great king Sennacherib. After a long siege, the Assyrians capture the fortified city of Lachish. They show no mercy to the vanquished people. But one girl is able to escape-Rivkah. She hides in the hills and finds refuge in the company of other survivors. In a devastated land they seek to rebuild their lives. The words of the prophet Micah-spoken to the people over many years-speak to Rivkah anew, allowing her to see the events in a new light.
Drawing on extensive scholarly research, Daughter of Lachish brings to life the world of Ancient Judah. It melds archaeology and biblical studies to tell a story of the people who first heard the words of the Psalms and Prophets. It is a story of one girl, her search for a place in the world, and her quest to make sense of loss and joy. Through her eyes we experience the daily tasks, the seasons of the agricultural year, the bonds that hold together a household and a village, and the tensions that threaten to tear them apart.
Tim Frank brings extensive knowledge of the ancient world to his writing, serving as a supervisor at the Lahav Research Project (Tell Halif), excavating at Tel Burna (near Lachish), and presently working in the Middle Eastern collection at the Cobb Institute of Archaeology. Judith McKinlay praises Frank’s abilities as a storyteller:
I could not stop reading this story. This is a biblical world engagingly alive, with its carefully researched details of the Assyrian war machine devastating life in eighth-century Judah and its strong characters determined to survive. I felt for Rivkah, survivor of Lachish. With biblical passages interwoven, most significantly the prophecies of Micah, met in person in the latter part of the novel, it is also a tale true to the biblical faith.
—Judith McKinlay, University of Otago
Full details and ordering information are here. The book costs more than your average mass-market work of fiction and that’s because this isn’t a book for the “mass market.” For a great education that takes me on a delightful journey, I’m happy to pay a little more, with hopes that we’ll see more such works in the future.