Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg Returns With Third Novel

Although Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg describes her third novel, ‘Daughter of a Promise,’ set to be published on April 2, as “an Old Testament love story,” readers need not be overly familiar with the Bible (or with Blasberg’s previous work) to comprehend and appreciate her modern retelling of the story of David and Bathsheba.

‘Daughter of a Promise,’ Jeanne
McWilliams Blasberg’s soon-to-bepublished
third novel.

‘Daughter of a Promise’ (She Writes Press), which has received a starred Kirkus Review, follows Betsabé Ruiz, straight out of college, as she starts her first job as a financial analyst on Wall Street. Ruiz has a goal of working there for only two years to save money to pursue her true dream of becoming a theatre actor. But she soon finds herself consumed by the long hours that the job demands, leaving her little time for socializing, much less for taking acting lessons. Ruiz also finds herself attracted to her boss, leading to an illicit liaison between them. In the Biblical text, which Blasberg, a former longtime Beacon Hill resident, drew from for her latest novel, King David spotted Bathsheba from atop his roof and summoned her. Their subsequent liaison resulted in pregnancy, even though Bathsheba was then married to Uriah, a soldier in David’s army. David sent Uriah to the frontlines, where he was abandoned by his comrades in the midst of battle, before David married the widowed Bathsheba. David and Bathsheba’s firstborn child subsequently died as punishment from God for David’s adultery and for his murder by proxy of Uriah. After David repented for his sins, Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon. The Old Testament text has often been a subject of debate among Rabbis, said Blasberg, as to whether their relationship was a “consensual liaison,” given the “extreme power dynamic” between the two lovers. Yet Bathsheba’s “agency” is also evident from the story, added Blasberg. “The topic of consent and love affairs is kind of a gray area,” said Blasberg, especially with the emergence of the Me Too movement and other news stories she read while writing the novel.               Blasberg’s modern retelling of the story shifts to Ruiz’s first-person perspective and is written as a letter to her unborn son. “Part of the inspiration is to give voice to the female perspective in the story,” said Blasberg. “In the ancient text, the entire story is told from Davis’s point of view and not with regard to Bathsheba, even though the most tragic thing happened to her.” Meanwhile, Blasberg’s second novel ‘The Nine’ (SWP 2019), was honored with the 2019 Foreword Indies Gold Award in Thriller & Suspense and the Gold Medal and Juror’s Choice in the 2019 National Indie Excellence Awards, among other accolades. Her literary debut, ‘Eden’ (SWP 2017), won the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Best New Voice in Fiction and was a finalist for the Sarton Women’s Book Award for Historical Fiction. Blasberg calls ‘Daughter of a Promise’ a “standalone, coming-of-age novel,” since readers who haven’t read her earlier works won’t find themselves at any disadvantage when it comes to following the plot of her latest work. But characters and settings from her two earlier novels resurface in her latest work, too,  she said, as Blasberg continues to expand her literary universe. Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg will be on hand  on May 14 for an author event at Porter Square Books in Seaport, and she also encourages readers to shop locally and preorder their copy of ‘Daughter of a Promise’ from Beacon Hill Books at 71 Charles St. ahead of its April 2 release.

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