Finding Favor With The King: Preparing For Your Moment In His Presence, by Tommy Tenney
[Note: This book was sent free of charge by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
In many ways, this is an excellent book. It is conversational, filled with obvious research, and shows the allegorical nature and divine providence that can be found in the book of Esther. There are parts of this book, including the idea to write some principles on how to please God based on how Esther (at least implicitly) pleases Xerxes. The author shows considerable familiarity with the deeply layered way the Bible is written, drawing out multiple levels of truth and taking full advantage of hints and drawing personal relevance from the story in a way that makes it fresh for readers. This book is a considerable achievement that merits an appreciative audience, and should find it, especially among women and among men who at least grudgingly respect the skill at seduction and manipulation shown by some women for good causes.
There are some issues with this book, however. For one, the book itself seems to exhibit a marked tension between praising the ability of wives and daughters to charm their father (or other men) with being all clingy and affectionate and paying attention to them and his denigration of casual flirtation . Besides this tension, there is a lot of repetition in the book. Some of it serves for emphasis, such as when the author points out constantly the need for mastering protocol and then building intimacy. Women reading this book will see that it recommends avoiding gold-digging behaviors and appealing to a man through attention and good food, which appears to be sound advice. At other times, though, the repetition appears to serve the purpose of padding the length of the book to make sure that it ends up over 200 pages, rather like the efforts of a student who is concerned about a minimum word limit who lacks the material to really fill out the requirements. This occurs, for example, when the author feels it necessary to point out several times that Esther was considered to be one of the four most beautiful women of biblical history by rabbis .
So, what then, is one to make of this book? It would have been a masterpiece at about 150-170 pages, with a lot of the repetition trimmed down. At 220 pages or so, it is still a book that contains a great deal of humorous stories as well as great insight about how God works. Its focus on both ritual and relationship, two elements that are normally pitted against each other, is a welcome one. Despite the fact that the book makes a lot of speculations, has far too high an opinion on Jewish speculation (where more solid historiography about the Persian Empire would have been more effective), and does tend to believe that no point is really made until it is made about ten times, it is still a worthwhile read and a thought-provoking one, even if it was a bit painful to read for myself in light of my own personal life. Of particular note, it should be mentioned, is the author’s insight on Oriental monarchs and ethnic cleansing.
 See, for example:
 For the record, the other three are Sarah, Rahab, and Abigail, all of whom charmed kings.