Book Reviews by Mae Clair: The Prince and the Prodigal by Jill Eileen Smith @JillEileenSmith #Biblicalfiction #OldTestamentFiction #HistoricalFiction

Striped kitten lying on open book, eyeglasses resting on pages. Book and kitten on white blanket

I have a number of book reviews to catch up on, but I so enjoyed my most recent read, I couldn’t resist bumping it to the top of the list. The Biblical account of Joseph’s life has always ranked among my favorite of the Old Testament (David is a close second), but strangely, there are few offerings. I pre-ordered this book the moment I saw it, and hated for it to end. One of those books where you want to reach the end, but you don’t because then the story is finished. You know what I mean, right?

Book cover for The Prince and the Prodigal shows profile of young man in Egyptian dress from shoulders up, sunset and pyramid in background

BY Jill Eileen Smith

Joseph is the pampered favorite son of the patriarch Jacob. His older brothers, deeply resentful of his status in the family, take advantage of the chance to get rid of him, selling him to slave traders and deceiving their father about his fate. It seems like their troubles are over. But for Joseph and older brother Judah, they are just beginning.

While Joseph is accused of rape and imprisoned, Judah attempts to flee the memory of his complicity in the betrayal of his younger brother. After decades apart, the brothers will come face-to-face in a stunning role reversal that sees Joseph in a position of great power while Judah begs for mercy. Will forgiveness or vengeance win the day?

Bestselling and award-winning author Jill Eileen Smith brings her considerable research and imaginative skills to bear in this vivid retelling of one of the most popular stories found in Scripture–a story of jealousy, betrayal, and a reconciliation that only God could bring about.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

For a long time, I’ve looked for a novel about Joseph, my favorite person from the Old Testament, but there are few to be found. I was therefore ecstatic when I learned about the release of The Prince and the Prodigal, and immediately placed it on pre-order. The book is everything I’d hoped it would be and more.

Anyone familiar with the Old Testament knows the animosity Joseph’s eleven brothers felt for him as the first son of Rachel and the favored firstborn of Jacob. Not everyone, however, may realize the role Judah played in Joseph’s being sold into slavery, or the guilt Leah’s fourth-born surely carried afterward for years. Smith uses this as the basis for his splitting off to start his own tribe.

Joseph’s story is shown side-by-side with Judah’s, revealing the tribulations and growth of both men—as Joseph goes from slave to ruler of all Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, and Judah learns to return to God only after years of strife within his own family. The story of Tamar and Judah is covered in detail (Tamar is one of only four women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew).

While Dinah’s backstory with Shechem is hinted at, the events are set before The Prince and the Prodigal takes place, but Dinah (Jacob’s only daughter) is also a POV character.

From the dusty tents of Jacob to the confinement of Pharaoh’s prison and the lavish palaces and gardens of Egypt, scenes are painted with vivid detail. Chapters are short and keep the action moving forward at a brisk but engaging pace. The people who populate the narrative (both historical and fictional) are given depth that draws the reader into the struggles they face, both spiritual and physical. I loved the way Joseph and Judah are portrayed, and as the two female POV characters, Dinah and Tamar are equally well defined.

This is a story of family. Of brotherhood, forgiveness, and redemption. Strength in the face of adversity, healing, and most of all, the belief that God is ever faithful and will deliver. Old Testament fiction is one of my favorite genres. I rank this book as a favorite, not only in the genre, but among my favorite reads of all time. I will certainly go back and read this again. A superb retelling of Joseph’s story and one I highly recommended.


59 thoughts on “Book Reviews by Mae Clair: The Prince and the Prodigal by Jill Eileen Smith @JillEileenSmith #Biblicalfiction #OldTestamentFiction #HistoricalFiction

    • That’s awesome, Jill. I’m glad to hear it will make your Amazon list. It’s such a fabulous book and one I will definitely read again. I liked it so much, I bought the trade paperback version!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. People in the Old Testament are all so interesting because they’re so flawed yet so special. My favorite is David, but all of them would make great stories. I bought this. Joseph’s rise to power was amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right about them being flawed, Judi. I think that’s why I love Old Testament fiction so much.

      As for David, I have read so many books on that man, both fictional and non fictional. He was an amazing (and seriously flawed) individual. I’m so happy you decided to give The Prince and the Prodigal a go. Judah is also a favorite of mine, which is why I was really happy this book focused on him, too.

      And I never tire reading about Joseph. As you said, his rise to power was truly amazing. Mind boggling when you think of it.

      I wish you happy reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read from the Bible every day and just finished this story (again) a few weeks ago. It’s also one of my favorites. I’ve always shied away from biblical lit because I feared it wouldn’t do justice to the people it portrays. Nice to know this one did. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • After reading this book, I wanted to go back and re-read the Biblical account of Joseph. It’s one I can read over and over again. I think you’d enjoy the Prince and the Prodigal. The author definitely did the characters justice. I’ve read a lot of Biblical fiction and there’s only 1 or 2 books that have left me disappointed. Even those still came in as 3-star reads. I have certain go-to authors in this genre, who seem to take extra care with their characters, and their research is always well done.

      Glad you enjoyed the review, Staci!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes!! I’m glad you want to read it, Noelle. It’s superb. I added it to Bookbub as one of my top 3 favorite reads of all time.
      And I understand the “or not” LOL. That towering TBR again 🤣😎

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Joseph is my favorite Old Testament character also, Mae. I admired his graciousness, humility, and forgiveness. He realized that was a purpose for his brother’s betrayal and his slavery turned into a blessing to his family. It reminds me of a Chinese story, The Old Man Lost His Horse (but it all turned out for the best). This is a fabulous review and I must add this on my Kindle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miriam, I am so glad you love Joseph as much as I do. I can read his story over and over, and still be blown away each and every time. This was an outstanding book and I highly recommend it. I’m not familiar with the story of The Old Man Lost His Horse, but it sounds like one I would love if its anything like the tale of Jospeh.If you did pick up The Prince and the Prodigal, I hope you enjoy it. I know I’ll be reading it again. Over and over! 🙂


    • How cool that you just discussed Tamar in Bible study so recently, Teri! She really intrigues me. She was such a strong woman and endured a lot, especially with Judah’s two sons. And then the way he treated her until he realized what he’d done. I was so glad the author chose to include her story along with Joseph’s. The Prince and the Prodigal was an exceptional read!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I really like the way the author covered his story. Definitely a lot more detailed then the Old Testament version, but sticking to the letter of the events throughout. I can’t say enough about this one, Betsy. I’m ready to read it again! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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