Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens ~ Review

My Review:
India born widow, Rena Hawley returns with her also widowed mother-in-law to the homeland of her late husband. In England she is met with disdain, and shamed for her exotic heritage. Rena works hard to help provide for herself and Nella, but the only productive work she can find is to glean in Lord Barric's field picking up what is left behind by the harvesters.

Lord Jack Barric is intrigued by the beautiful woman who has come to glean in his fields, he allows her to stay and even arranges a place for her and her mother-in-law to live. But as the townspeople begin to chatter and spread malicious gossip about him and his relationship to Rena, things become strained and choices must be made.

A Victorian re-telling of Ruth, Shadow Among Sheaves is a fresh new take on the story we all know so well. It made me admire Rena's bravery to travel to an unknown land and people, leaving everything familiar behind.

Barric is honorable to a fault, constantly thinking about his reputation while also juggling his duty to do what is right. I liked how the characters were all flawed and imperfect, yet were not without redeeming qualities, which brought a realness to them that was refreshing.

In some ways it was a slower read, and maybe it just felt that way because I did have a pretty good inkling on how it would likely end up. I also thought that there was a lot of justifying and overthinking going on inside the heads of Barric and Rena which had me skimming here and there. But I did really like how the author transposed the story into the late 1850's of Great Britain, with the culture clash of Rena's Indian upbringing, I could tell that the author had done her research with this genius re-telling.

Overall, a promising read, good tension and that paints a picture of the societal challenges that a woman such as Rena would have faced in Britain in the mid-1800's. Strong themes of faith, family, and trust, the whole time I was reading this book I kept thinking what a great movie it would make. A wonderful new way of looking at Ruth and Boaz, set during Queen Victoria's reign.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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