ABOUT THE BOOK
A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz
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.
Shadow among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The story of Ruth's love and devotion for her mother-in-law Naomi is one of my favorite stories in the Bible so I was thrilled to see this new book that is loosely based on The Book of Ruth. Rena Hawley is a young widow from India who has lost her British husband and she has committed herself to supporting her widowed mother-in-law as they both try to rebuild their lives by creating a new home in Abbotsville, England, Nell Hawley's birthplace.
As I read Shadow Among Sheaves I was touched by Rena's efforts to provide for her mother-in-law and I shuddered at some of the situations that she was forced to endure. Rena's life of privilege that she enjoyed in India no longer existed and she was harshly judged because of her Indian heritage. Rena was proud buts she was also realistic and she doubted that her mother-in-law would survive the deplorable conditions they were now facing in Abbottsville. Her determination to provide for Nell soon gained the attention of Lord Barric and, even though he worried that his reputation might suffer, he finally agreed to allow this beautiful Indian widow to pick up grain that had fallen on the ground as the wheat was being harvested. Lord Barric observed Rena as she diligently worked to gather food and, just as Boaz admired Ruth's devotion to Naomi, Rena managed to capture the heart of Lord Barric with her devotion to her own mother-in-law.
Shadow Among Sheaves isn't always a pretty story because it touches on poverty, extreme hunger, prejudice, and the often unforgiving nature of humans. Rena witnesses the goodness of some Christian believers but she also is the victim of many heartless people and she struggles with a society that allows such cruelty. As she listens to Parson Richardson's sermons she begins to question this God that he speaks of; this God that her mother-in-law and Lord Barric both worship. After one Sunday service she ponders what she has heard. "God dwelled within her. Could that really be true? How could she ever know for certain that such a God really loved her?" (p. 250) It is soon after this that Rena seeks answers from the parson and finally understands the peace that comes from knowing the one true God!
As I read this book I was prompted to refer back to The Book of Ruth and isn't that what biblical fiction should do? Send the reader back to the true source of the story? If so, then debut author Naomi Stephens has certainly accomplished her goal. Shadow Among Sheaves is a book that will appeal to fans of both historical and Christian fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
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