Noah’s Wife by T.K. Thorne is a 369-page novel selected as an OnlineBookClub Book of the Day for 25 February 2017. The Kindle edition is available from Amazon for USD 1.99 but there is a free sample. After reading the sample I couldn’t resist buying the complete novel. For those who tend to click on things too fast (buy buttons) be careful here. There are two novels with the same title if you search on Amazon. This is the one with the cover that looks like big waves are coming. The other one, Noah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck has people with umbrella’s on the cover and costs a lot more.
A reader’s immediate expectation is that we are going to read about a flood. It is no spoiler to mention that we will but it is a long way (pages) from the following opening two-sentence paragraph to the flood.
My name, Na’amah, means pleasant or beautiful. I am not always pleasant, but I am beautiful. Perhaps that is why I am trundled atop this beast like a roll of hides for market and surrounded by grim-faced men. (p. 1)
That sentence is why I couldn’t resist buying the book. This sentence appears in the prologue with the title 5521 BCE.
After the prologue, we shift back in time with Part I titled 5524 BCE followed by Part II titled 5521 BCE (like the prologue) and finally Part III titled 5500 BCE. This is followed by a highly informative 10-page postscript detailing the author’s research underlying the historical part of this fine historical fiction work. That is followed by a glossary of character names which appeared too late for me. Although I would appreciate a glossary appearance at the front of the novel, it would detract from the value of an Amazon sample.
Each part describes a significant period of her life when dramatic events happen. In part one, Na’amah deals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Her brother, Tubal, despises her and constantly tells her she is ugly and stupid. She is convinced she killed her mother with her birth. Tubal reinforces this idea every time he speaks to her. She does have a loving grandmother whose role becomes more important after her father dies while attempting to flee from a flood. Not THE flood, but a devastating one nevertheless for Na’amah’s village.
In part one Na’amah will become quite familiar and comfortable with Yanner, a friend with whom she will spend a lot of time in hills while tending sheep. There probably will not be a romantic relationship with Yanner. Na’amah will not encourage it. She is betrothed to Noah in a marriage arranged by her father. Noah has promised to wait several years before consummation of the marriage. It would be nice for Na’amah to get through puberty first. Noah is a lot older than Na’amah but is impressed by her direct speaking style. It seems she cannot lie and she tells Noah what she thinks of him upon their first meeting.
After Tubal becomes the head of the family upon the death of their father, Tubal notices that Yanner seems to love his ugly sister. Tubal may or may not hate Noah, but it was Tubal’s father that arranged Na’amah’s marriage to Noah, a marriage that Na’amah seems to accept. Tubal hates Na’amah and Yanner is Tubal’s friend. Tubal decides to make a change to the arrangement and promises Yanner Na’amah as his wife. This is done more out of his hatred for Na’amah rather than a fondness for his friend. This conflict between Na’amah and her brother will lead to her running away from her village. It will lead to her capture by slavers. They want to sell her and other captured women to their King. She will escape from the slavers and try to reach the refuge of a religious sect that worships a supreme power that is female.
Up to this point, there are no spoilers because by the title of the book readers can be confident that she escaped from the slavers and that Noah is the ultimate winner in the relationship department. After this point, spoilers become a problem.
This novel has a character driven story of the competition for believers in a true religion. Is the true religion patriarchal or matriarchal as far as legitimacy? Tubal fights many followers from the matriarchal camp. Na’amah is not interested in either being in power or acting as a power broker.
The book has interesting insights into building a really big boat. Noah uses methods of construction innovative at the time. An interior fireplace on a wooden boat was new. The attention paid to sealing material and the need for frequent maintenance is interesting. Notes on diversity in agricultural methods and distribution were interesting. Different results achieved by different groups living comparatively closely together might have encouraged socialization as one group discovered, perhaps through traveling trade shows and merchants, that the neighbors were a bit better off.
There are many interesting comments on peripheral supporting information that are provided as bonus entertainment. The frequent referral to cave paintings could have been left out entirely but the inclusion contributes a lot to how some of the characters support their beliefs.
This is a thoughtful read, something not to be rushed, and something the reader may want to come back to, especially when referring sections to friends.
This may not be suitable for strict, orthodox believers of the Christian religion who believe in a literal meaning of every word in the Bible.