Thursday, July 7, 2011

Our First Peek at THE STONES by Eleanor Gustafson

Welcome to The Stones COTT book club discussion! And a massive welcome to this month’s COTT conquering author,  Eleanor (Ellie) Gustafson. Welcome, Ellie!

I decided to do like Jennifer did during A Tailor-made Bride and read the book throughout the month as we go along. Most of us know the end (wink), but Ellie presents the details in such a fresh and unique way that I find it’s almost as if I’ve never read the story before.

I just finished chapter twelve. It’s hefty reading, but I’m really enjoying it. Ellie, you write with such a lovely, almost poetic prose. It’s enchanting. And the historical detail simply fascinates me. I’m quite in awe, actually.

Question to readers: Do you have a favorite character yet? I do!

Abigail, David’s third wife, was always one of my favorite female Bible characters. I think it’s rather romantic that saving her retched husband’s life earned her the (future) king’s love. Her dead husband was barely cold in the ground before David took her to wife. Talk about making an impression!

Quite the colorful character in The Stones, she’s strong-willed (which wasn’t a gift in those days) and she’s usually the cause for tension. But it’s generally because she’s fighting for what she believes God requires of them. David’s standing before God and the people is more important to her than his good graces, which she doesn’t lose for long anyway. David loves her too much.

I just finished reading chapter 12 where Abigail chides him for bringing home booty from the Amalekites he’s raided and killed.

Abigail says, “Did you consult Abiathar and the Urim and thummin to find out if you’re the man to do it? It seems to me you’re tearing off this ‘vengeance’ thing, when it’s the Lord’s business to—”
“Enough, woman! You have a find hand on my faults and don’t hesitate to say so.” (great line, by the way) The flare died quickly, and David sighed as he wrung a cloth and wiped his dusty face. “Abigail, Abigail, you don’t understand. We have our reasons. We—”
“You mean Joab has his reasons. This was his idea, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, and it’s a good idea.” His voice grew irritable again. “We must get Achish to trust us. Once he thinks we’ve made ourselves odious to the Israelites… And besides, I thought you’d like clothes and jewelry.”
“They’re soaked in blood. I’d never wear them” Wow. You go, girl.  A scene with this feisty gal is always interesting!

If I remember correctly, not overly much is said about her in the Bible. So, Ellie, what made you decide to give Abigail such a strong personality? Which portions of Scripture lead you to construct her character in such a way?

Here are a couple of questions for you taken from the same source.

If Abigail is David’s most valuable wife, why is he uncomfortable with her? 
In what way does Abigail exemplify God’s love?

Historical/biblical fiction is my all time favorite genre, but I can’t help but wonder the entire time that I’m reading--Which parts are real and which are made up? But this time, I get to ask the author questions as I’m reading. How fun is that?! Ellie, my question to you is (after reading the two you asked in the Study Guide)—“What makes Abigail David’s most valuable wife?” Is that something you found in the Bible or something you created? Will we discover the answer as we read further?

At the end of the month, there will be a drawing for The Stones Study Guide. It’s the ideal companion book that you’ll want to have to go along with The Stones. You could create six months worth of Bible and history lessons from it, if you had a hankering to. That’s how much great stuff it has in it. Perfect for a home school setting!

Enter the drawing by leaving a comment on either Blogger or Facebook. Every comment counts for one entry.

Next week, I plan to have read approximately to the half-way point. Can’t wait to see what David is up to by then!

Next month, we'll be discussing another COTT Conquering book-- Delia Latham's Destiny's Dream. Make sure you get your copy of this fun romance now!


Ellie Gustafson said...

Good morning, April! This was really fun, getting your first impressions of The Stones. I’m glad you like it—so far. At least you didn’t choke over all the blood in the early chapters. David was a warrior—his main occupation—and I’m sure you’ll bring that up at some point.
In the Bible, we get only one substantive look at Abigail, but it tells us quite a bit. Her adroit action in the wake of her husband Nabal’s churlishness reveals her quick wit and capability. David obviously liked what he saw, so she must have been pleasing to look at, if not beautiful. The words she speaks to David reflect her spiritual depth, and I extend this to her ongoing concern for David’s spiritual well being. As you said, he, being somewhat caviler, doesn’t appreciate that part of her “capability.” Blunt truth spoken by a wife is often a tough pill to swallow. (I write from experience here, having the same sort of husband!) God’s love sometimes gets in our face, as well, but Abigail seems to be His chosen instrument in regard to David. Let me state clearly: this is my take, not Scripture, but I believe, given what we know about both David and Abigail, it could have been this way. As you read on, you’ll see how this tension between David and Abigail evolves. You picked well, April, choosing Abigail as your favorite character. She’s mine, too.
Okay, the rest of you out there—who is your favorite character?

Gail Pallotta said...

Hi Ellie,
I haven't read as far into the book as April yet. I'll catch up next week, so I'd like to hold off on my favorite character right now. I do like the fact that we have David to show us how to be spiritual while at the same time we're human. I can see in that era that David could certainly be uncomfortable around an out-spoken wife, especially when she's correct. LOL.

Ellie Gustafson said...

Hi back, Gail (I think that's you; the date hides your name.)
Take your time on your favorite character; there are more still to come! And they don't necessarily have to be good guys--just "good" in that they work well in the narrative. I'm laughing with you, too, in your comment about husbands not appreciating wives who catch them out. : ) Please jump in again when you get a little further.


Gail Pallotta said...

Hi Ellie,
Yes, it's me Gail. I've always liked David, because he loves God, and yet, he has human flaws like the rest of us. But I can see I'm going to see other characters in a way I've never seen them before. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to enjoy getting to know Abigail better. Thank you for writing this book.

April W Gardner said...

Ellie, I didn't blink an eye at the blood in the first chapters. It was a bloody era and David was a man with a lot of blood, which is why God wouldn't let him build the temple, right? You were just sticking with fact, which most readers will appreciate. At least, they should! lol!
Can't wait to see more of these two. Bathsheba should be interesting too. Curious to know how you'll handle that one! :-D
Gail, David is one of those characters that makes me sigh with relief. If HE can be so bloody and sinful and yet still be "a man after God's own heart", maybe there's hope for me. Yep, the amazing King David was human, thank goodness! God's grace is abundant.

Ellie Gustafson said...

April, you've got warrior blood running through your veins, for sure! I've found that men respond well to David. He's a man's man, as well as a man after God's own heart. Yeah, and hang in there for Bathsheba to show up.

Nora Chase said...

Hi, Ellie.

So glad to have another chance to discuss "The Stones" with you. I would like to hear how you came to the decision to choose Asaph as the narrator of the story and not, say, David or Abigail.

Ellie Gustafson said...

Hi Nora! Hooray for making your way through to Comment! Asaph--yes. He started out being strictly utilitarian in my mind (suitable narrator), but he turned out more substantive as a character who gradually became fully engaged in the unfolding story. There is some history here. Years ago, I put out the our church newsletter under the nom de plume of Asaph. I could say what I wanted anonymously--which sometimes got me into trouble. I was a musician, as was Asaph, and that fit, too. I'm not sure that I made that connection when I started to use him in The Stones. Something in the Bible gave me a clue that he was noted as a seer, recorder or historian, but I could be wrong there. Anyway, I think he did an excellent job in telling David's story, don't you? : ) I don't think either David or Abigail could have been objective enough to serve in that capacity. Asaph was the man for the job! Thanks for jumping in, Nora. --Ellie

Anonymous said...

Ellie, thank you for writing this book and putting flesh and bones on the characters that I have always thought of as Bible heroes. SBG

Ellie Gustafson said...

And thank you, Sue Beth, for standing by me through this whole process. You're one of my everyday heros! --Ellie

April W Gardner said...

Great question, Nora. I had the same one. So far, I think he's done a great job telling the story. I like that he's a neutral voice. Sue Beth, I love a bit of flesh and bones on my Bible characters too. I'll never look at them the same again! Thanks for dropping by, ladies!

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