The young heroine in Sinners and the Sea is destined for greatness. Known only as “wife” in the Bible and cursed with a birthmark that many think is the brand of a demon, this unnamed woman—fated to become the mother of all generations after the great flood—lives anew through Rebecca Kanner. The author gives this virtuous woman the perfect voice to make one of the Old Testament’s stories come alive like never before.
Desperate to keep her safe, the woman’s father gives her to the righteous Noah, who weds her and takes her to the town of Sorum, a haven for outcasts. Alone in her new life, Noah’s wife gives him three sons. But living in this wicked and perverse town with an aloof husband who speaks more to God than to her takes its toll. Noah’s wife struggles to know her own identity and value. She tries to make friends with the violent and dissolute people of Sorum while raising a brood that, despite its pious upbringing, develops some sinful tendencies of its own. While Noah carries out the Lord’s commands, she tries to hide her mark and her shame as she weathers the scorn and taunts of the townspeople. But these trials are nothing compared to what awaits her after God tells her husband that a flood is coming—and that Noah and his family must build an ark so that they alone can repopulate the world. As the flood waters draw near, she grows in courage and honor, and when the water finally recedes, she emerges whole, displaying once and for all the indomitable strength of women.
My Thoughts: I want to come right out and say this in the beginning: If your intent in reading this book is to play some sort of literary matching game between this novel and the account of Noah and his wife in the Bible, this book may not be for you. If you are looking for a well written and vividly imagined book that breathes life into the story one of the lesser known people in the Bible then this is definitely a book worth reading.
Knowing that she is in harms way because of the large birthmark on her forehead which some believe mark her as a demon, her father gives her a fighting chance by promising her to 600 year old Noah-a man who seeks a pure and virtuous wife. Unwilling to give her a name just as her father neglected to, Noah takes his new wife home to Sorum-a place crawling with morally bankrupt people of ill-repute. Amongst them is Javan-the apologetically sinful, murderous, brothel running woman who taunts Noah at every turn. I think one of the things I enjoyed most about this novel was the varied cast of characters, most of whom fall into a gray area in terms of good or bad. Even the most crude characters in this book take unexpected actions which shows a sliver of hope for their redemption. I also enjoyed the internal journey of Noah's wife. She is married off to an ancient man who puts his belief in God before all else, is taken from the only home she has ever known to a haven of depravity where her husband is given a message from God to build a giant ark so He may flood the world and eradicate it of sinners. You can't help but sympathize with her as she tries to fulfill her roles of wife and mother amidst the most unlikely of circumstances.
I was a bit worried that once the journey on the Ark commenced the story would become less interesting. This was not the case as the family faces a variety of trials and obstacles. Admittedly, there were some more fantastical elements of the story that I really didn't care for-namely the one involving giants. Still I found myself really liking this book. Even God's chosen people weren't perfect. They all had their faults and struggles. This is definitely not like any other biblical themed historical fiction I have read previously. I would probably read this sub-genre of historical fiction more often if I could find books as inventive and entertaining as this one.