Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Anna Reviews: In a Milk and Honeyed Land by Richard Abbott

In a Milk and Honeyed land

Already from the title, one gathers this book is set in that ancient cradle of humanity, the Promised Land. Mr Abbott paints a vivid description of the region and its people as it may have appeared well over  three thousand years ago, doing a rather elegant tie in to the events related to us in the Book of Joshua.
However, the story is not told from the viewpoint of the Hebrew tribes, instead we are transported to a  little town called Kephrath that nestles into a ridge, surrounded by olive groves.

The inhabitants of this little village are Canaanites, a society which counts descent matrilinearily rather than partiarchically, where the people survive as farmers, craftsmen and traders. This is the home of Damariel, the protagonist of the story, who is but a child when we first meet him. Damariel is a confused boy; he lives with his mother, his siblings, and a man he calls father but who clearly isn’t his father – after all, Damariel is a child of the gods, which essentially means he is the result of a ritual whereby his mother bedded with the village priest. Mr Abbott does a good job of describing the tension this fact causes, between husband and wife, between Damariel and his so-called father.

The life in this long-ago village is richly described, from the foods they prepare, to the tending of the olives and the rituals of life and death. I am not in a position to judge how accurate the protrayal is, but I feel transported to a land of hot summers and somewhat cooler winters, to summer nights when the family sleeps on their roofs, to a life that follows the ancient rhythm of the moon, to the wafting scents of mimosa and acacia, of honey and lotus.

Damariel grows up to be a compassionate priest and a seer, and will have to handle personal loss and betrayal, complex family relationships and the burden of feeling responsible for the well-being of his entire village, come what may.

This is not a book for those who want action or multilayered intrigue, rather it is a reflection on human life in general, subtly making the point just how similar the central issues in our lives remain – whether in the here and now or in the far back then. I was also quite impressed by how well Mr Abbott describes a society built on female lineage, with the women playing as important a role in society as do their men.

The prose is rich and fragrant and flows easily across the pages. Mr Abbott has made no attempt to antiquate the dialogue, which in general is a good thing. However, at times the expressions used were too modern, and a dialogue peppered with “look” and “you know” jarred with the time period.

In a Milk and Honeyed Land is a believable and at times very touching description of a man that always tries to do the best he can for his family and friends. Add to this an unusual historical background, some very evocative writing, and you have quite the read. I for one will definitely be looking for future books by Mr Abbott!

About the author
Richard Abbott lives in London and In a Milk and Honeyed Land is his first book. An interest in the historical facts surrounding the Old Testament led to a PhD in Hebrew and Egyptian Poetry – and a desire to write a fictional account set in the period.
Outside of writing, Mr Abbott enjoys spending time with family and walking, ideally in the English Lake District. For more information about Mr Abbott and his work, visit is website

Buy links for 'In a Milk and Honeyed Land':
Amazon UK


This book was reviewed by Anna Belfrage author of "The Prodigal son" . 

Anna Belfrage is the author of four published books, all part of The Graham Saga. Set in the 17thc, the book tells the story of Matthew Graham and his time travelling wife, Alex Lind.  

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  1. I enjoy books by authors who richly describe the surroundings in which their story is placed. I'm intrigued to read this book entirely because of Anna's review.

  2. Thanks for this review. The book sounds great

  3. This sounds like a book that allows you to really immerse yourself in.

  4. I love the way Anna exudes the atmosphere in this book. Never thoguht about reading a book in this time but this has definitely intrigued me

  5. Sounds interesting. I will recommend it to my friends.

  6. Thanks, Anna - great review. This book sounds fascinating!

  7. Other than Quo Vadis I have not read a book set in this time, but I like that it describer the inner conflicts and emotions rather than battles and napkin filding.

  8. Sorry, that should be folding (not enough coffee yet)

  9. Sounds very interesting. Not my usual genre of choice, but a good read is always welcome. Thanks for reviewing this book. (Deirdre O'Mahony)

  10. I enjoy reading novels of this time, the seeds of what we see today.

  11. I would love to read this. A fabulous review. I like reflective novels very much indeed.

  12. This is on my private, to read' list. I have a great interest in the topic, and this is the type of treatment of it that draws me. Naturally i would love to win a copy but that is not the only reason why I am commenting.

  13. Thank you for choosing me to receive a copy, and more importantly, the opportunity to read this book.

  14. Thanks all for your comments and feedback! Kris, I will contact you directly about the give-away copy