“The sun was the same, but that was all. Blindingly hot, it hung low on the horizon as if dangled there by an invisible string.”Opening lines of Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens
A brilliant allegory of the book of Ruth, Shadow among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens captures the reader from its opening lines with vivid and emotive writing. Knowing the narrative, I didn’t anticipate the suspense created, it is a page-turner! Set in the 1860s, shortly after the revolt in India to British rule, the historical landscape is perfect for unpacking much of the trauma and healing the four short chapters in the Bible leave out whilst creating an amazing parallel.
My heart broke for Nell and Rena as they return to England in mourning for their husbands and penniless. Mocked and belittled for being different, Rena suppresses her pride as she asks for charity for the first time in her life. Seeing her suffering, Lord Barric reaches out in compassion offering food and begins a sequence of events that soon neither can stop from unfurling.
The writing is exquisite, so carefully constructed as to create a beautiful picture of happenings. The Indian perspective livens up the grey English landscape bringing vibrancy and intrigue. Rena wrestles with settling into England and understanding Christianity and her journey of coming to know God is a favourite element for me.
The ending is wonderful but I was sad it arrived and paged back hoping there was more, I have become so attached to each of these characters! I want to know what happens for all the others in the small town too! It’s highly recommended and five out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale!
From the back cover:
The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.
Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from Barbour Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.