Naomi Stephens presents her debut novel in this allegory of the biblical story of Boaz and Ruth, set in 19th century England.
In Shadows Among Sheaves, widowed Rena follows her widowed mother-in-law Nell to England after her British husband’s death. Rena, an Indian woman, faces severe prejudice as she tries to provide support for her mother-in-law. When Lord Barric, a British aristocrat, meets the widows in Abbotsville, he attempts to help them while trying to balance his attraction to Rena as well as his own reputation and hate his own family has towards her.
Stephens gives the reader a story filled with drama, strong characters, and descriptive narrative. With themes of self-sacrifice, fear, and starvation, Rena finds herself struggling to know which faith is the right one for her – the one she was raised in, or her mother-in-law’s faith. Nell’s faith remains strong even in the midst of being homeless and starving. It is a well-written historical fiction book, and the reader will learn more about the time period (1857) and the relations between England and India. Although this is a debut novel, it reads like one written by a more experienced author. One looks forward to Ms. Stephens’ next work!
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