Sinners and the Sea, the Untold Story of Noah’s Wife

See the story of Noah and the flood with new eyes.

Rebecca Kanner is a fellow Minnesotan, Biblical fiction writer, and Howard Books author.Reason enough for me to want to read her debut novel, Sinners and The Sea, the Untold Story of Noah’s Wife. Add to that a fascinating premise: the story of a woman who wasn’t even named in the Bible, but became the mother of all generations after the great flood, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Sinners and the Sea did not disappoint. It is the story of an unnamed woman from a harsh world, a world that is primitive and superstitious, where differences – like the red mark on her forehead – are met with distrust and violence, where a father must give his beloved daughter to an ancient man before she is killed by those who fear her.

We sympathize with this unnamed woman because—as remote as her world seems to be from ours—she longs for all that we want for ourselves:  to be known, loved, and accepted by her family, her community, and ultimately her God. She wants to honor her father and do what is right by her husband, Noah. She wants a community, even that of the  sinners that inhabit the desolate town where Noah lives. She wants to understand this mysterious God that her husband obeys, and most of all, she wants to be named, to have an identity that will live on even after she is gone.

As the unnamed woman marries Noah and has his children, we see the depths of her great compassion—for her ancient and frustrating husband, her warring sons, and even for the brutal villagers destined to die in the flood. Her compassion is so clearly drawn, I pitied even the most despicable of the sinners as they perished in the rising water.

Kanner’s narrative of the Biblical flood is completely new and unexpected. It is a compelling re-imagining, with surprising mythical elements that add a dreamlike quality to the horrors of the flood.  Her historical detail, especially into that dark time of pre-history where much must be supposed or deduced, was impeccable and riveting.

After reading Sinners and the Sea, you’ll never look at the Biblical story of Noah and the flood in the same way again, and isn’t that Biblical fiction’s greatest purpose? To see the old stories with fresh eyes and perhaps find new meaning that brings us closer to God and his unfolding plan for our world?

 Have you read Sinners and the Sea, the Untold Story of Noah’s Wife? What did you think?


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