Welcome to my stop on the blog tour today!
I’m absolutely delighted to share a very exciting extract from The Anointed by Michael Arditti! The Anointed is out NOW! Be sure to grab your copy!
Before we dive into the extract, here is a little more about the book and its fabulous author!
About the Book:
Michal is a princess, Abigail a wealthy widow, and Bathsheba a soldier’s bride, but as women in Ancient Israel their destiny is the same: to obey their fathers, serve their husbands and raise their children.
Marriage to King David seems to offer them an escape, but behind the trappings of power they discover a deeply conflicted man. The legendary hero who slew Goliath, founded Jerusalem and saved Israel is also a vicious despot who murders his rivals, massacres his captives and menaces his harem.
Michael Arditti’s masterly new novel centres on three fascinating, formidable women, whose voices have hitherto been silenced. As they tell of love and betrayal, rape and revenge, motherhood and childlessness, they not only present the time-honoured story in a compelling new light but expose a conflict between male ruthlessness and female resistance, which remains strikingly pertinent today.
About the Author:
Michael Arditti is a novelist, short story writer and critic. His novels are The Celibate (1993), Pagan and her Parents – Pagan’s Father in the USA (1996), Easter (2000), Unity (2005), A Sea Change (2006), The Enemy of the Good (2009), Jubilate (2011) and The Breath of Night (2013). His short story collection, Good Clean Fun was published in 2004. He was awarded a Harold Hyam Wingate scholarship in 2000, a Royal Literary Fund fellowship in 2001, an Oppenheim-John Downes memorial award in 2003, and Arts Council awards in 2004 and 2007. He was the Leverhulme artist in residence at the Freud museum in 2008. His novels have been short- and long-listed for several literary awards and Easter won the inaugural Waterstone’s Mardi Gras award. In 2012 he was awarded an Honorary DLitt by the University of Chester.
Nabal’s mother hangs the chain around my throat. As ever,
she holds it for a moment too long as though she pictures
the beads as blades. As ever, I thank her for her kindness in
lending me the jewellery, which, as we both know, is not for
Abigail but for Nabal’s wife, the richness of my adornment
as sure a sign of her son’s prestige as the richness of the feast.
The gold and amber beads were a part of her bride-price from
Nabal’s father. Nabal gave no bride-price for me, but then
there was no father or brother or even uncle or cousin to
whom he might have paid it, since my entire clan was massacred in an Amalekite raid. Some would say that the thrift
of the match was part of its attraction and, after twenty-five
years of marriage, I might agree. But back then I believed him
when he praised my youth and beauty and the fortitude with
which I bore my loss. He claimed that his sole desire was to
protect me; and, short of betrothal to the king himself, what
greater protection could I have wished than the hand of the
Calebite chief? True, he had a protuberant lower jaw that gathered drool, a belly like a woman bearing twins, and a scraggy
beard like a sheep with scab. But his plainness reassured me.
I thought that it would make up for my poverty. I was wrong.
His whole clan opposed the match, his mother suggesting
that, since I had no menfolk to avenge my shame, he should
take me as his concubine. But he was stubborn and, moreover,
he’d convinced himself that he had been elected chief by dint
of his discernment. We married and I made every effort to be
a good wife, not least at night, when even the bondwomen,
who lived lives of unrelenting toil, looked at me with pity. I
yearned for a child, to have someone in my life whom I could
love without strain or obligation; I yearned for a son to consolidate my position in the household. I conceived quickly – I conceived quickly eleven times – but the longest I ever
carried a child was three months. On the two occasions that
there was a body in the blood, it resembled a crab more than
a person. But I believe that I could have even loved a monster
if it were mine. Now it’s too late. My cycle of blood, once as
regular as the moon, is erratic. I find myself sweating at night
even when Nabal is nowhere near. I feel my breasts smart
even when he’s not clawing them. His mother urges him to
renounce me in favour of a younger, more fruitful wife but, so
far, he has ignored her, although less from love or sympathy
or even force of habit than indolence.
Nabal’s mother – I must give her her name, Shirah, although
to me she’s purely a function – leaves me and goes to dress.
She is intent on outshining all three of her sons’ wives, not, as
one might expect, to elicit compliments but, rather, to disparage them. She takes more pleasure in upbraiding people for
their insincerity than in thanking them for their kindness.
‘I suppose I can trust you to see that all is in order,’ she says,
as though I hadn’t spent every waking hour for the past three
days drilling the servants, cleaning the chambers and preparing the food. However much she maintains that she runs the
household, she knows full well that, without me, it would fall
apart. I am the one who keeps the peace between the brothers; I am the one who feeds the bondmen, pays the servants
and hires the labourers; I am the one who advises Nabal on
what produce should be kept and what traded, always careful
to credit my opinions to him. I break into a rare smile at the
thought that, no matter how different its objects, Shirah and I
have one thing in common: our contempt.
I go downstairs to speak to the servants. With three days
of feasting, the sheep-shearing festival makes heavy demands
of them, which I am determined that they should fulfil. I
must remind them once again which meats are to be served
on which day, which wines are to be served to which guests
and which guests are to eat in which place: the dignitaries and elders in Nabal’s chamber, the lesser clan members in
the courtyard, and the shepherds and labourers in the field. I
approach to find that, instead of the anticipated bustle, they
are deep in discussion. They break out and stare at me with
a mixture of indignation and alarm that I think it wise to
‘Is everything ready?’ I ask, with a polished smile. ‘People
will be arriving soon. I’ve heard some children outside.’
‘We’re ruined, Mistress,’ Oren, the head servant, replies.
‘You should escape.’
‘Why, what’s wrong?’ I ask, envisioning Nabal’s fury should
weevils have infested the storeroom or last year’s wine have
‘It’s not for me to say.’
‘Nonsense! You just have.’
‘Ten men came to see the master this afternoon.’
‘I heard. Weren’t they labourers from the river field?’
‘No, they were bandits from the camp at Maon.’
I know all about the camp, which is barely an hour’s ride
away and a concern throughout Carmel. David, the great
general who married the king’s daughter, fell from favour and
fled into the wilderness, where followers have flocked to him,
some equally disaffected and others, among them the youngest son of one of our clansmen, lured by his legend. The elders
urged Nabal to make overtures to him, but Nabal, eager to
avoid taking action of any sort, let alone the clash that might
result if his approaches were rejected, temporized. As weeks
passed with no news from the camp, he boasted that David
was too in awe of his eminence and power to confront him.
I, having climbed to the roof and seen the distant camp swell
like a festering boil, was less convinced. The fact that ten men
have come, in a show of strength as much as a neighbourly
visit, confirms my fears.
‘You shouldn’t call them bandits. After all, no one was
hurt; nothing was stolen.’
The Anointed is published by Arcadia Books. Available now in hardback and ebook. Paperback publishing May 20th.
To purchase your copy, you can follow the links below:
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With thanks to Amber, Midas PR, Arcadia Books for my blog tour invite!