January 06, 2013

Sinners and the Sea by Rebecca Kanner

Sinners and the Sea by Rebecca Kanner
Simon and Schuster/Howard Books
Release date: April 2, 2013
Find on Amazon
Classification: Historical
Old Testament times
Heat Rating: 0/3 - but there is violence (suitable to the time period)
NAME OF REVIEWER: Genevieve Graham
In the spirit of Anita Diamant, this ambitious and unforgettable novel about the story of Noah blends Biblical history, mythology, and the inimitable strength of women.

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.

Kanner weaves a masterful tale that breathes new life into one of the Bible’s voiceless characters. Through the eyes of Noah’s wife we see a complex world where the lines between righteousness and wickedness blur. And we are left wondering: Would I have been considered virtuous enough to save?


You know how everyone knows who Noah is, but we never hear about his wife? That’s because (according to this book, and who am I to argue?) she had no name. Her father never named her because she was born with a large facial birthmark that many called a demon mark. By keeping the girl nameless, he hoped to prevent people in her bloodlusting village from abusing her by name. This quiet, terrified girl, repulsed by so many, is one day given as a virtuous, submissive wife to a crazy, 500-year-old religious nut named Noah.

I love the way Ms Kanner walked us through the days and nights of the unassuming wife of one of civilization’s most renowned prophets. As unimportant as the woman believes she is, as disrespected as she is, despite her doubts and fears, she will nevertheless one day bear the future of the world. We are shown the violence and grime of the era through almost apathetic eyes, the viewpoint of a woman who has experienced nothing but that kind of life since the day she was born. When she sees something innocent or beautiful it is as if she is in awe. We watch her evolve as we watch the characters around her deal with the end of the world and the beginning of another.

A stirring, fascinating story written beautifully.

REVIEWER BIO Genevieve Graham didn’t start writing until she was in her forties, inspired by the work of the legendary Diana Gabaldon. Her first two novels, “Under the Same Sky” and “Sound of the Heart” were published by Berkley Sensation/Penguin US in 2012 and book #3 will be out in November 2013. Genevieve writes what she calls “Historical Fiction” rather than “Historical Romance,” meaning she concentrates on the stories and adventures, and she doesn’t turn away from the ugly truths of the times. Romance binds her stories together, but it is not the primary focus. Genevieve also runs her own Editing business and has helped dozens of authors with their novels.


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