Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah's Wife by Rebecca Kanner

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: February 10, 2013

Cursed with a birthmark that many think is the brand of a demon, the young heroine in The Sinners and the Sea is deprived even of a name for fear that it would make it easier for people to spread lies about her. But this virtuous woman has the perfect voice to make one of the Old Testament’s stories live anew. 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 land of outcasts. Noah, a 600-year-old paragon of virtue, rises to the role of preacher to a town full of sinners. Alone in her new life, Noah’s wife gives him three sons, but is faced with the hardship of living with an aloof husband who speaks more to God than with her. She tries to make friends with the violent and dissolute people of Sorum while raising a brood that, despite a pious upbringing, have developed some sinful tendencies of their own. But her 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.

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I'm going to come straight out and admit it. I picked up Rebecca Kanner's The Sinners and the Sea because I think the cover is absolutely gorgeous. I know, I'm horrible. Look up cover slut in the dictionary and you will find my picture. By rights I should be ashamed of myself, but you know what? I'm not. I'll grant my motivations were superficial, but had I not succumbed to them, I wouldn't have discovered this very original take on one of the most well known bible stories.

Kanner's work is unique on many levels. For one thing Noah's wife is not a prominent female in the Bible. Unlike Margaret George or Ginger Garret who have written about Mary Magdalene, Queen Esther, Delilah and Queen Jezebel, Kanner couldn't rely on a the celebrity of a name to draw in her readers. Kanner had to lay a lot more groundwork than the majority of her peers, but I think it also gave her more freedom as a writer, allowing her to move in directions her readers do not expect.  

Also of note are Kanner's cast of characters. When reading Christian literature, I usually find authors who utilize one untarnished character to teach another the Lord's path, but there are no sugary sweet believers to be found among these pages, no one individual who is the embodiment of perfection. No, Kanner's characters are realistically flawed and all the more endearing for it. 

When I began reading this story, I expected a biblical retelling, but the reality is The Sinners and the Sea is about a family, the relationships between them and the hardships they overcame. While not the easiest book to get into, I found Kanner's unconventional approach quite interesting. 

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I felt like I had been exiled. I was not going to have what I wanted most - an ordinary life. 
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Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I'm not familiar with this book and I want to read it. Noah's wife really isn't talked about in the bible, so I'm curious how this is written. Great review.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Holly!

Unknown said...

Really enjoyed your review, especially the opening paragraph!

Anonymous said...

:) I'm glad you enjoyed it Davina.