Title: One Night with the King
Author: Tommy Tenney (w/ Mark Andrew Wilson)
Genre: Christian Fiction
The Rule I have for myself is to always read the book before watching the movie. Unfortunately I failed for this one. I originally didn’t know it was based on a book when i went to see it in theaters. It’s probably why it took me so long to read the book afterwards.
In a nutshell, One Night With the King is a retelling of the story of Esther from the Bible. Unlike the movie, the book adds an outside story of a young woman named Hadassah Kesselman, who is a decedent of Esther. She is reading the story as if it is from Queen Esther as advice to her before her wedding. When Hadassah was seven and her family was visiting in Babylon, she watched as they were murdered in the middle of the night. She was then raised by her Uncle Mordecai. Her best friend growing up was Jesse, the grandson of her Uncles’s housekeeper. When she is older, she is taken from her home to the king’s palace where she and other women undergo immensely in-depth beautification treatments to prepare them for their “one night with the king” to determine who the next queen will be. He name is changed to Esther in order to protect her Jewish heritage. Esther quickly comes under the favor of the King’s eunuch Hegai, which is much to her benefit. Shortly after Esther is crowned as queen, she learns that her people are in extreme danger after an edict that Haman had passed. In a desperate plea for her life and the life of her people, Esther approaches the king without invitation (punishable by death). Much to the dismay of others in the court, King Xerxes pardons her and agrees to come visit her along with Haman for a feast later where she would reveal what was so important. At the feast, Esther reveals what her heritage is and pleas for the lives her people. Haman had built a gallows in hopes of hanging her Uncle Mordecai on them but instead is sent to be hung on them himself. An edict goes out to warn the Jews and help them protect themselves again the original edict (which couldn’t be rescinded).
Due to the fact that it’s difficult for a full-length book to share the lives of the the characters while maintaining Biblical accuracy, it’s important to know the actual Biblical account and not just read the novel. Personally I feel that the added outside story of Hadassah Kesselman was unwarranted but can also easily be ignored in the reading. Queen Esther’s story has always been interesting to me, and this book helped me to be able to step into the setting and culture to get a better picture of what the reality could have been like. Although there was some definite artistic license taken in the book, I feel the author attempted to stay close to Biblical accuracy.
Age Appropriateness: In addressing the appropriateness for age it’s important to understand what the term “one night with the king” alludes to. While the movie was able to shy from it, the book does not. Esther wrestles frequently with thoughts if God would forgive her for having sex with a man she isn’t already married to (even if forced), and what would happen if he chose not to after. Also, Esther’s friend Jesse is turned into a eunuch and some of his details are shared. While the movie is safer for some of the younger ages, I definitely feel the book is more for mature 16 and up.