This year as I’ve been reading Exodus through Deuteronomy, a recurring theme that stood out to me is God’s deep compassion towards the oppressed and downtrodden. In the New Testament, it is reiterated that when we see someone in need and don’t do anything to help, we dishonor the Lord by not exemplifying His love and James says we are not walking in faith.
Shadow among Sheaves
by Naomi Stephens
Published by Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date April 1, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: England Victorian Era – UK – 1837 – 1901
Main Character Ages: 18-24, 25-30
Written for: Adults
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.
I would like to thank Barbour Books, Netgalley for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
I almost didn’t request a copy of Shadow Among Sheaves. I have a lot going on with books I’ve committed to read, with work, and with other life things. And then I read the description again. A retelling of Ruth? I love that book of the Bible. So I looked at my calendar again, pushed back the review date for a book that I purchased a month ago, and grabbed this one.
Sitting here now after reading it, I can’t help but think what a shame it would have been if I didn’t pick this one up. This compelling story has me looking at Ruth and the circumstances of her life much differently now. I’ve always focused on Boaz and his kindness toward her yet never really thought about the love that Ruth must have had for her first husband – to make her willing to face shame and discrimination from her people and from his for marrying him. Rena’s deep love for the deceased Edrich and her grief is heart-wrenching.
Debut author Naomi Stephens has taken this familiar and well-loved story and breathed new life into it. With a richness of language and a depth of emotion, she portrays a very prejudiced England at the time of Queen Victoria in the wake of the Indian Mutiny. She tells of poverty and desperation. Of a man torn between his desire to do what is good and right and fear of the hurt it might do to his reputation and standing in the community if he does.
A friend and fellow reader commented that she didn’t much care for Lord Barric – he was a little too much like Mr. Rochester. I disagree. I found him to feel very deeply about matters and to struggle with trying to live up to his father’s reputation. I felt that he was very true to what an earl in this era would have been like.
I am so touched by the intense love of God that is communicated through these pages. The “Your God will be my god” part of Ruth’s pledge was not made until later in this story and so we were able to see Rena’s spiritual journey as she exchanged the beliefs of her ancestors for those of her dead husband’s mother.
Be warned, though. This book requires having tissues close at hand! It will wring your heart and may even challenge your attitudes towards those who are in need and those who are “different” from you.
I highly recommend Shadow Among Sheaves to lovers of Christian fiction of all flavors. It is already on my list of candidates for “Best of” for this year!