Delilah: Treacherous Beauty
Canaan, 1200 BCE. When Delilah’s Philistine stepfather dies, his son Achish sells her mother into slavery and keeps Delilah to abuse and rape. Delilah seizes her first chance to flee, and finds sanctuary with a Hebrew widow who teaches Delilah to weave and to rebuild her life – even when Delilah learns she is pregnant by her rapist, although Delilah cannot love her child. Delilah never stops hoping to find her mother someday, and when she learns her mother’s dead, she realizes what she needs to avenge herself on Achish: Samson, the Hebrew hero. But Delilah doesn’t count on falling in love with Samson, nor on the strength of Achish’s own lust for power over her. When Achish threatens Delilah’s painfully-rebuilt life, in fear and panic she makes a disastrous choice. To save her new family, she betrays Samson to the Philistines, a decision that leads to Samson’s ultimate tragedy – and triumph.
While sticking closely to the Biblical account (without spoilers, I’ll just say that nothing in the Bible says that Delilah is a Philistine), this is also a fresh, intriguing retelling of the familiar tale. Both Delilah and Samson are appealing characters, and Delilah’s desperation and the impossibility of any choice she makes being right make her betrayal of the man she loves seem understandable, even inevitable. Enjoyable and poignant. Also recommended are the other books in the Dangerous Beauty series: Esther and Bathsheba.