In the spirit of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent comes an extraordinary debut novel that breathes life into Noah’s wife and combines history and mythology in an intensely suspenseful, page-turning narrative.
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 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. 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 floodwaters 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. Drawing on the biblical narrative and Jewish mythology, Sinners and the Sea is a beautifully written account of the antediluvian world told in cinematic detail.
Debut novelist Kanner brings to life the nameless wife of Noah in a deeply imagined midrashic interpretation of the biblical story of the flood. A girl is born with a mark on her forehead, likely a port wine birthmark, that all around her fear is the mark of a demon. No one wants to marry her until she is claimed as a bride by the 600-year-old Noah, a man who believes in the "God of Adam," wants sons, and wants to bring to God the wicked people of Sorum, a town populated by prostitutes and mercenaries. Noah and his growing family live in tension with Sorum's sinners, until the God of Adam commands the building of an ark and the gathering of animals onto it before it rains and rains. Though her pacing occasionally drags, Kanner animates a harsh, almost dystopic world of fallen people struggling to survive. Noah's unnamed wife is a powerful, memorable character.
I couldn't put this one down! Rebecca Kanner did a fantastic with the telling of this tale in a new, "grown up" fashion. It definitely put a 3-D view of the old children's bible story. I was able to see and get to know these characters like never before. Highly recommended!