Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: "Sinners and the Sea" by Rebecca Kanner

Sinners and the Sea Rebecca Kanner
Published: April 2, 2013
ISBN: 9781451695250
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Highly Recommended

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.

My Thoughts:
I have always loved the story of Noah and the Ark.  I remember as a child seeing a TV movie of it (I remember nothing else other than I saw this), I've always wanted to see the musical Children of Eden, and my husband and I made sure to see Noah on opening weekend.  On that last point, we probably should have seen Divergent instead.


Sinners and the Sea is touted to be in the same vein as Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, which made me a bit nervous--such comparisons are usually unfair and incorrect.  While I wouldn't say that this book brought The Red Tent to mind, I did greatly enjoy this book.

The story is told from the point of view of Noah's wife (traditionally named Naamah, but she is unnamed in this work).  I felt rather stupid while reading this book--I never thought about the role of Noah's wife in this whole story but, really, she is practically a second Eve--the mother of all--if you take a strict interpretation of the story.

What I like best about the character of Noah's wife is that she is very dynamic--she grows during the course of the book and she does in a natural way.  Many times, when a book is sort of centered around a character's growth, it doesn't come across realistically--but that is not the case here.

I also really enjoyed reading the character of Noah.  He started out not being at all the way I've always imagined Noah.  I always pictured Noah as being sort of hermit, living away from all the sinners.  Instead, here he is living among them and trying to "save" them.  There is more than a bit of fire and brimstone about his tactics, but that begins to make sense as we get to know more about his character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I did have a few quibbles.  There were a couple--literally only 2 or 3--times in the book where the narrative of the action got a little muddy and I had to read the passage more than once to be sure I knew what was going on.  There was also a minor plot point, in fact it may have been more of a detail, near the end of the book that was just too much for me and I found it a bit ridiculous.  However, in the grand scheme of things, I found this to be an entertaining book that I will be recommending to others.

About the Author
Sinners and the Sea is Rebecca Kanner’s debut novel. Rebecca is a Twin Cities native and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. Her writing has won an Associated Writing Programs Award, a Loft mentorship Award and a 2012/2013 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. Her personal essay, “Safety,” is listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2011. Her stories have been published in numerous journals including The Kenyon Review and The Cincinnati Review.

Along with other authors including Anita Diamant, Michael Cunningham, Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks and Ron Hansen, Rebecca will be featured in the upcoming title Truthful Fictions: Conversations with American Biographical Novelists.

You can learn more about Rebecca, and find links to selected stories and essays, at You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

If you would like to read more about this book, please visit some of the other stops on this tour:

Tuesday, April 15
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Thursday, April 17
Review at A Bookish Girl

Friday, April 18
Review at Reading the Ages

Monday, April 21
Review at Booktalk & More
Review at Judith Starkston

Wednesday, April 23
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Friday, April 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Caroline Wilson Writes

Monday, April 28
Review at JulzReads

Tuesday, April 29
Review at The Most Happy Reader

Wednesday, April 30
Review & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, May 2
Review at History from a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, May 5
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, May 6
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, May 7
Review at Ink Sugar Blog

Friday, May 9
Review at Our Wolves Den

Monday, May 12
Review at The Calico Critic

Tuesday, May 13
Review at From L.A. to LA

Wednesday, May 14
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Thursday, May 15
Spotlight at The Tower of Babel

Friday, May 16
Review at Layered Pages

Monday, May 19
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Wednesday, May 21
Review at My Reader’s Block

Friday, May 23
Review at Seaside Book Corner

Tuesday, May 27
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, May 29
Review at bookworm2bookworm’s Blog

Thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, I have a copy of this book to giveaway to one reader.  This contest is open to US Residents, aged 18 or older, only.  This giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST on April 19, 2014.

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