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In the Shadow of the Ark

Review

In the Shadow of the Ark

Do you remember the biblical tale of Noah's ark? What comes to mind? Do you picture a bearded old man, surrounded by sheep, cattle, horses, and dogs? Do you imagine the man floating in a sea of water, protected from the rains in the shelter of a wooden ark?

In her new book, IN THE SHADOW OF THE ARK, Flemish author Anne Provoost shatters the traditional image of Noah and his ark. Provoost provides a clever spin for the biblical tale by re-imagining this time-told story through the eyes of a young woman named Re Jana.

Powerfully written in beautiful prose, the story transforms readers into Re Jana's world. Re Jana and her family have lived on the waters of the marshes for years amongst skilled fishermen and shipbuilders. After a terrible accident that leaves her mother crippled, the family decides to travel to a city in the middle of the desert. They have heard rumors about a builder, named Noah, who is creating a massive ship. Re Jana's father, an expert boatmaker, seeks work from these desert peoples who are curiously constructing the huge boat. These people, however, are not like Re Jana and her family. Called "Rattika" they are wanderers and are accustomed to a life very different from the marsh people.

In an effort to find her place among these new people, Re Jana offers her skill to find "good water" for the Builder's family. Along with her water, Re Jana washes the Builder's sons with her sponges and oils. A relationship develops with Re Jana and the youngest son, Ham. Reality breaks the intensity of their love. Through Ham, Re Jana finds out the true purpose of the massive ark. The Builder's god has chosen the Builder and his family to collect all the animals on earth. A massive flood will wash away everything and everyone but the "chosen." Another woman has been selected to be Ham's wife. The future for Re Jana and her family looks bleak.

Provoost does an amazing job transporting the reader into this apocalyptic biblical world. The strength of the character Re Jana is clear. She is a true heroine and we are rooting for her on every step of her challenging journey. Through the use of beautiful language and powerful emotions, Provoost creates a masterpiece. Along with the characters and their struggles, the reader is also confronted with the philosophical questions of the biblical tale. IN THE SHADOW OF THE ARK is an impressive novel that both teenagers and adults will enjoy. It also wouldn't be surprising if this book serves as the basis for a majestic Hollywood epic.

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Reviewed by Kristi Olson on October 18, 2011

In the Shadow of the Ark
by Anne Provoost

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2004
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0439442346
  • ISBN-13: 9780439442343