Set in 5500 BCE in ancient Turkey, this story is inspired by the theories penned in Noah’s Flood, The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998).
In our childhood Sunday school classes, we have been taught that God spoke directly to the patriarch Noah and instructed him to build a vessel to protect his family and all the creatures from the great flood-or deluge.
Na’amah, Noah’s wife and protagonist, is born with what her grandmother says is a special gift but others see it as a disability. (In the book’s acknowledgements, the author speaks of Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism.) Na’amah’s gift of heightened senses causes mistrust and provides strong conflict between Na’amah and her family, her village and her own beliefs.
Na’amah’s days involve tending sheep, finding honey, and other domestic chores like sewing and cooking. The author imagines that even before electrical appliances not every woman is meant to be a Julia Child.
The story features a woman of Biblical times supporting her man, bearing his children, and keeping his house, or his boat in this instance. However, not only is Na’amah all those things, she is also a visionary and a leader in spite of her gender and her unique mental capacities. Or, is it because of these traits?
Noah’s Wife is a tender story that asks some mighty tough questions. Any book club would find lots to talk about if it chose this book. If you enjoyed The Red Tent or other such stories about strong Biblical women, you will find Noah’s Wife an interesting read.