Shadow among Sheaves

Shadow among Sheaves

by Naomi Stephens

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683229339
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/01/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 198,321
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author


Naomi Stephens is a bookworm turned teacher turned writer. She received a M.A. in English from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and now lives in Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a rascal of a dog named Sherlock. 

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Both women were starving.

After nearly three weeks in Abbotsville, Rena's shoulder blades now cut against her skin like she was made of paper. Head pounding, she lay beside Nell in a stable which smelled of manure, desperate for any way to escape the unbreakable claws of poverty.

The sun was beginning to show through the dawn-filled haze, but Rena was too angry to look at the sky. In India she had loved watching the sun and stars unfold at the start and end of each day. She often pressed against the rail of her father's balcony, lifted up, captured by the endlessness of it all. Now everything was different. She, a Brahmin, was forced to sleep in the hay like an animal. The humiliation was nearly unbearable. Her father's home was filled with sacred, ancient texts and priceless artifacts. He was a valuable asset to the British troops stationed there. Even Rena herself had once been described as a prize.

And who was she now?

She yanked a few strands of straw from her hair — a trespasser, lying amid filthy cattle while Nell slept soundly beside her. To such concerns as starvation and poverty, Nell merely replied that all problems had their solutions. She was a sturdy woman with no intention of moping. But Rena was not convinced, even by such practiced bravado.

Many years ago, Nell had lived nearby, in a suburb of Liverpool, well before she met and married Sir Alistair. A few of her cousins were still scattered in various estates throughout the area, and Nell had written to them several months ago, shortly after Alistair had died, to announce that she was returning to England and would be much indebted if she could stay with one of their families until things were sorted.

"Of course," they had all responded. "With pleasure. You are always most welcome."

They'd made arrangements to stay with a Lady Harriet, who lived the closest to Abbotsville. All was quite settled ahead of time. But then Nell had arrived in England with an unexpected surprise — Rena.

"There must be some mistake," Lady Harriet had stammered, stunned to find an Indian girl waiting beside Nell at her gate. "We did not expect you so soon. We haven't enough room for two houseguests...."

Rena had counted at least two dozen windows from her place beneath the gate. Two dozen windows in Lady Harriet's home, and yet not a bed for two widows to share. Nell had made her way down her list of cousins and second cousins, but all had given the same answer with varying degrees of shock and disgust as they stared at Rena in her plain widow's dress.

Rena rolled onto her side and studied the careful way Nell now slept in the hay, with not a single hair out of place. Nell had come from one of the most estimable families in northern England. She didn't belong here, sleeping like a vagrant with a foreign castaway. But even those sorrows paled in the face of another — before Nell had fallen asleep that night, she'd mentioned the workhouse.

"It is always best to consider all options," Nell had said bracingly, but Rena also read the terror thinly masked in the woman's eyes.

Restless, Rena pushed herself up from the ground, burying her face between her hands. Several times she had passed the Liverpool workhouse during her daily search for work. Cramped and full of sickness, it was a glorified prison for the hapless, desperate souls who needed it. If Rena and Nell were even admitted, they would be forced to turn over their own clothes, to bathe supervised, to work their way through a system dead set on breaking them.

No. Rena climbed to her feet. She could not let that happen. She would not.

With one last anxious look at Nell, Rena left the stable and marched straight into town. People were already beginning to gather on their way to the fields, and they watched her steady approach with alarm. Rena wanted to spit on them. When she and Nell had knocked on every door in town, no one had looked either of them in the eyes. When they had slept in doorways, alleys, and barns, the people of Abbotsville had pretended not to see them, not to notice. But now they watched Rena, their gazes pinned and direct.

As she turned the corner at the edge of town, three field hands jumped quickly to the side to avoid running into her. Rena fisted her hands. She was so hungry. So tired. She wanted to tell those men her family belonged to the highest caste in India, that her father was far more eloquent and learned than any of them would ever be. But Rena knew, even if they believed her, they would not care. They would still leave her and Nell to starve in gutters. All the money in the world would not make them look at her with any less disgust.

And why should they? The Indian Mutiny was painfully fresh in everyone's mind, only a few years past. When Edric left England in pursuit of colonization, no one could have expected him to marry an Indian woman. That she had returned in the wake of his death was an unspeakable scandal.

When the English looked at Rena, they saw a tapestry of evil: Indian soldiers rising up and shooting their British officers, British women and children hacked to pieces in defiance of westernization, Christian converts hunted down and murdered at Delhi for forsaking the Hindu faith.

It did not matter that Sawai Ram Singh, the Maharaja of Jaipur, had sent nearly all of his troops to aid the British. Or that he had housed the wife and children of Major Eden in the Badal Mahal, refusing to hand them over to the demanding rebels who had then marched onto Delhi. The people in Abbotsville only knew that Rena was Indian. She had lived in the north where the mutinies had raged the hardest. She could never be trusted.

In times of weakness, Rena still considered sneaking off in the night so Nell might live with her own family in comfort. But Rena loved Nell too much to abandon her in such a way, and she knew Nell would never allow them to separate. An even weaker part of Rena was too afraid to starve to death alone.

She came at last to the door she was searching for and froze on the threshold, feeling herself approaching a precipice from which she could never draw back. At Nell's warning, this was the only door she had not visited in her relentless search for lodging. "Edric." She whispered her husband's name, just to hear it spoken. Then she shoved through the weathered door and stepped inside.

She had heard many rumors of the Gilded Crown, an establishment well known for thievery and prostitution, though it masqueraded as a common roadside inn. Splintered tables and benches were scattered about the dining hall, half the tables still not cleared from the previous night's revelries. A dingy portrait of a rather severe-looking Victoria loomed above the sooty stone fireplace — as if the queen herself actually cared to know what went on in such a place.

The dining hall was mostly vacant, save for a few passing travelers who ate breakfast in the corner and a scattering of women who lounged on benches along the farthest wall with bored, waiting expressions. Rena tried not to look at the women, but she could not help noticing as one of them stood abruptly and stepped across the room to lean against the bar. The woman wore a gaudy dress, wrinkled and slightly too big for her slender frame. The heavy smear of bright rouge on her cheeks made her appear perpetually tired but no less pretty. To Rena she looked like a butterfly wing someone had accidentally stepped on.

Rena froze as the woman met her eyes. She was the first person to have really looked at Rena since she'd arrived in Abbotsville, and an unspoken understanding hummed between them. Rena wondered if this woman had been homeless too. Cast off by relatives, or perhaps born illegitimate.

"Who is loitering there?"

Rena stepped back at the nasty voice but turned her eyes toward the staircase, where a woman with a stack of faded blankets was descending the stairs. This woman was much older than any of the other women there. Her graying hair was tied tightly at the back of her head, and she had the beady eyes of a badger, dark and unusually close together.

Rena's voice came out in a painfully fragile thread. "I came to see if you have a room." The words flooded her with shame. She wondered what Edric would have said if he had seen her in such a place, practically begging for crumbs.

The older woman shook her head. "No," she answered in a clipped voice, then stabbed a thumb at the door. "Leave."

Half-relieved to be cast out from such a dismal place, Rena turned toward the door but stopped as she remembered the stable where Nell was still sleeping like those in India who were born too unclean to merit a caste at all. From the highest to the lowest was a dizzying fall, and Rena still couldn't feel the ground beneath her own feet. Could they plummet lower still? She thought of how it might be if she and Nell faced winter without a home. What might happen if the chill in the air journeyed to their bones and then to their lungs?

"My mother-in-law is starving," Rena managed, half turning back to the woman. "We both are. We have nothing. We are desperate."

The woman looked at Rena the way Nell's family had looked at her, as if the whole of the Indian mutinies were carried out at her behest. "Put the Indian chit back on a boat," one cousin had whispered to Nell when he thought Rena was out of earshot. "Send her home at once."

"Even we have standards," the woman said scornfully. "You must find lodging elsewhere."

But Rena had already been everywhere. Nearly delirious from sparse food and even sparser sleep, she felt unbearably thin beneath the woman's gaze. "Wife!" growled a voice, and the woman winced. Rena turned and watched as a thin man with a dirtied apron crossed through the kitchen door. "See to the storage room," he ordered, jerking his head toward the back. "Make it ready."

The woman hissed then spun around and disappeared through the back hall. As soon as she was gone, the man folded his arms in front of his chest and gave Rena a dubious look. Hard work had given his skin a blotchy appearance, but his eyes were clear. Scraggly white whiskers hung in a long, wiry tangle along his jaw. Rena had once heard them called Piccadilly weepers by British soldiers who had worn the style with a bit more class.

"Have you not heard of what happens in our upstairs rooms?" the man challenged. "Or is that why you're here?"

Rena's humiliation climbed, undercut by a stab of raw fear. "I have no interest in what goes on in any of your rooms," she responded. "I left my mother-in-law, Lady Hawley, sleeping in a stable. All I am looking for is a roof to put over her head."

At her stiff reply, his face softened, as if discomfort was something he didn't often see in his line of work. He measured her anew, the corners of his mouth pinching as he glimpsed her black mourning gown and trembling hands. With a slight wince, he asked her, "This mother-in-law of yours. Can she wash dishes?"

Half-breathless with hope, Rena jumped to answer, "We both can."

"My wife will never let you in her kitchen." He shook his head with an embittered frown. "But if your mother-in-law can wash dishes and floors, if she can sweep and clean tables, then you can stay in our storeroom."

Rena was too stunned to answer immediately. With the looming threat of the workhouse, she was certain Nell would accept the arrangement, though it still smarted to imagine her mother-in-law scrubbing floors in such a place. "I am ... indebted to you, sir."

"It's not exactly posh lodging — a drafty produce closet with a narrow bench."

"We've slept in gutters," she answered, steadily meeting his eyes.

He quirked a bushy eyebrow then nodded. "And the men? The ones hereabouts who drink too much, they might take an interest in you."

She hesitated, glancing back at the pretty, albeit rumpled, woman who still watched her with unease. Was this their silent understanding, then? Was Rena looking at her future, or was this poor woman remembering her own naive past?

"I am not to be touched," Rena insisted, mortified to have to set such a stipulation, regardless of whether it would be followed. She turned back to the innkeeper and lifted her chin. "If you can promise me that, then we will gladly accept your offer."

"Ah, so here you are setting our terms now." He nodded his approval then extended a veiny hand. "I am Mr. Bagley, and I accept your terms. It's only fair warning to you, though, that my wife does not and likely will never like you."

If such was the least of Rena's worries, she might actually sleep through the night for the first time in nearly two years. "I am growing rather used to being unliked," she confessed. "And I would rather sleep among humans who despise me than horses who don't."

* * *

Oats, barley, wheat.

Rena ran her fingers with wonder along the sheaves as she followed the main road out of town, passing foreign fields and grand estates as she journeyed. So much food, she thought bleakly, and yet she and Nell were both starving.

It certainly wasn't for lack of trying. For four weeks, Nell had scrubbed dishes and floors to pay for their place in the shabby storeroom at the Gilded Crown. But money was scarce, barely enough for a loaf of bread and some watered-down milk every few days. And while the Bagleys had allowed them to stay in their produce closet for practically nothing, they were not about to feed them as well. To Rena generosity was becoming a land with uncomfortably tight borders.

Hunting for work of her own, she had knocked on enough doors to scab her knuckles a hundred times over. No work was beneath her, she vowed, no prospect too small. But all doors closed as if on phantom hinges, blotting out her desperate pleas.

Since Edric had died, Rena wondered if she was being punished for something she had done. For marrying a foreigner, perhaps. For leaving her family behind so she could look after Nell. For watching Nell starve and finding herself too weak to find an answer. Karma. The word unfolded like a flower in her mind, whispered in her mother's careful, instructive voice. As a child, Rena had learned that her actions had the power to haunt or reward her, to shape who she would become, possibly even in future lives. And Rena felt haunted in many, many ways.

She pressed deeper inland, hoping to come upon a farm willing to pay half price for a milkmaid. With fewer buildings and trees left to block the wind, she pulled her gray shawl tighter around her shoulders and tried to brace herself against a shiver. It was only August, and Nell often said the country air would become crisper after the harvest was gleaned, then turn bitter. Though Jaipur certainly had its colder evenings in the winter months, Rena had spent much of them indoors. She was still too used to the heavy air, the kind of heat she felt deep in her throat every time she swallowed. Abbotsville's leaves were dazzling in their own way, the fields a lovely shade of burnt sunlight, but the shivers still jumped along her skin and made her wish for a warmer, more inviting place.

"You think your desert sands are everything, Rena, but there is a whole world beyond this heat. Someday I will take you to England. We'll pluck apples from the trees and lie in the grass all evening while we eat them. And then I'll whisper in your ear all the ways I love you."

Rena gripped the front of her threadbare dress, feeling the press of Edric's ring from beneath the fabric. He had spoken those words to her three days after their wedding, and it sickened her to hear his voice now, in a strange, foreign place where stalks of wheat stood sentinel over her aching heart. She shut her eyes, no longer wanting to see the lush leaves and yellow harvest. "Oh Edric," she sighed to the empty road. "This place is yours. I wish you could share it with me."

As if hearing her somber plea, distant voices began singing deep in the field beside her, the echoes lifting up a sorrowful dirge which matched the caws of crows as they soared overhead.

As if their voices could sense her hunger.

As if they were giving it a voice all its own.

Rena turned toward the field, closing her eyes once more as she listened. From a distance, she couldn't make out any of the words, but the vague sound gave the song a certain beauty. She took several steps toward the field, then parted the stalks, her feet crunching the ground as she pressed forward. The fields were empty.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Shadow Among Sheaves"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Naomi Stephens.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Shadow among Sheaves (FREE PREVIEW) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
fromtheheartJH 14 days ago
Review of Shadow among the Sheaves by Naomi Stephens I really enjoyed this book by a new author! It takes place in the 1860’s in England and retells the story of Ruth in a unique way. A widow and her Indian daughter-in-law leave India after both their husbands die. They are almost completely destitute and are not sure how they will survive. Eventually Lord Barric enters the scene, but not always in a helpful manner. The prejudices displayed and the desperateness of the widows’ situation will stir your emotions. The story has strong characters, a vivid setting, and is compelling enough to keep you reading until you are finished. This is a great story for history lovers, but with the parallels to the story of Ruth, it will make you want to reread that as well. "I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review."
GrandmaKaye 7 hours ago
Even readers who are not familiar with the narrative of Ruth and Naomi in the Old Testament of the Bible would enjoy reading Shadow among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens. I admire the genuine love of Rena for her mother-in-law Nell, and Nell’s determination to not abandon Rena in spite of rejection by British friends. I respect Rena’s bravery in leaving her native India and her rich family, and her fortitude in facing poverty and derision in England. This novel flows smoothly and has been written and edited well. The characters are believable and I liked the shadow imagery because it is appropriate, but not overdone. I highly recommend reading Shadow among Sheaves. I received a complimentary copy of Shadow among Sheaves from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
tealovingbookworm 2 days ago
“Your home is my home. And everything you are and everything you love-that is all I ever wish to be” Naomi Stephens has written a poignant novel loosely based on the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. Rena, an Indian woman, decides that she cannot leave her mother-in-law who has just lost both her husband and her son. So she follows Nell back to England, and is met only with disgust by the English who remember the Great Rebellion of 1857 between England and India. The book flows easily and captivated me from the first page. My heart immediately went out to Rena, who is reduced to a slave-like state in order to survive. But I feel the real heroin of this story is Lady Hawley, Nell, who lovingly guides Rena toward the God that loves her, and is her biggest encourager to begin living life again. Lord Barric is an odd character, and I had difficulty connecting with him. I was expecting more of the biblical story, but despite that, I did enjoy reading this! I received a copy of this book from Shiloh Run Press and Barbour Publishing through Net Galley. The opinions in this review are my own
rkfall 3 days ago
Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens is a book I’m really thankful to have read. I thought the devotion of the daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law in this historical late 1800s retelling of the book of Ruth was a very compelling plot. The strife between countries and the intermarriage is unfolded in a great weave pattern. There's loss, frustration, romance, hope, suspense, people you enjoy the character of and people you frankly don't enjoy at all, and a future all rolled together in one. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous 4 days ago
This book is an allegory of the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz, but it is set in 1857 during the time of the rebellion of India against Britain. Rena is an Indian who marries Nell's son, Edric. She meets Edric while he is in India in the army. The two fall in love quickly and elope. Just as in the Biblical story, Edric and Air Alistair (Rena's father-in-law) both die. This leaves Rena and Nell in India with no prospects. Nell decides to move back to England and Rena follows her. Rena knew it would be difficult, but she vowed to do everything she could for Nell. Life was much harder than she could have imagined. She finds a little charity as she is gleaning in Lord Barric's fields. Just as in the Biblical story, he protects her, so she has a way to take care of herself and Nell. I liked how the story stayed reasonably true to the Biblical account while adding in characters and events to make it feel like something that could have happened in the 1850s. There were people to love and people to hate. True friendships as well as true rivalries. The people had enough depth that they could be flawed and we could still related to them. This is an author I will follow from now on - I enjoyed this book! I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
NKBookReviewer 5 days ago
“Shadow Among Sheaves” written by author Naomi Stephens is a beautiful retelling of the biblical story of Ruth. This one is set in 1850’s England and is an exquisite novel. It is one of my favorite “modern” day takes on Ruth’s story that I have ever read. Author Stephens has written a realistic retelling in this book. It makes sense. Her beautifully written work grabbed me and guided me inside its pages. I was no longer in my comfy chair reading but in England with Rena, her mother-in-law Nell, and Lord Barric. From the very beginning I was invested in this superbly written tale. It is a page turning, reader’s treasure. Not only did I read the book, I lived it. I felt the snubs, was hurt by the insults, and understood the pain. The women had a hard time and I wanted to offer help. The author took me on an emotional roller coaster ride with this book. I made new friends and found people I did not like. Even ones I liked had moments where they were human and failed. A review for this stunning book could be summed up in one word. . . WOW! It is amazing. This is a very well researched, well planned, and extremely well written book. It needs to be a movie. Yes, it is that great. The characters are all believable. They are well rounded with character flaws as well as redeeming attributes. The scenery and daily life are vividly described. I easily imagined I was gleaning in the fields, trying new foods, and seeing new things just as Rena. The story is a bit predictable if you know your Bible but it also has some twists and surprises. It has a good faith message and deals with tough modern day issues such as prejudice, bullying, pride, family, forgiveness, respect, and social standing. I highly recommend this to anyone. There is so much packed into its pages. I learned historical facts about India and England. There was mystery, intrigue, romance, and discussions on placing priorities, family relationships, charity, gossip, and friendship. I will be watching for more books from author Naomi Stephens. You should, too. This one was phenomenal. I highly recommend it. I rated it 5 out of 5. A copy was provided by the publisher but I was under no obligation to write a review. These are my own, honest words.
moony3424 6 days ago
I absolutely loved this book that is very loosely based on the book of Ruth from the Bible, but based in the 1800’s. Rena is an Indian widow of an English officer. She follows her mother-in-law, Lady Nell Hawley, to England. There she experiences all sorts of prejudices because of her nationality, since England is fighting the Indian rebels. Unfortunately, her mother-in-law also feels the brunt of these atrocities because of guilt by association. I loved the descriptions and learned about some of the horrors of the prejudice that she faces. This is book that I couldn’t put down and read consistently until the last page. I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who wants to read a fast paced, historical work of fiction.
grammy57 7 days ago
Barbour Publishing, via Netgalley.com, granted my request to read and review this book. The review is my own opinion and not required. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The good, is that the story was very interesting and kept my attention throughout. The characters were quite well developed. The story flowed well. The reasons I did not give 5 stars on a book I did enjoy are these: minus one star for editing. It needs more editing. The biggest gaffe, in my opinion, was when the color of the dress changed within a few sentences. The second, and biggest reason is that this is listed as a Christian book, loosely based on the book of Ruth in the Bible. That claim is a big stretch of the imagination. Another thing that bothered me was the use of a British swear word. Again, the story was interesting. I did enjoy reading it on it's own merit, but as far as being a Christian book, it missed the mark by quite a bit. The only hints of being Christian were that they attended church and the Mother-in-law prayed. So much more could have been included and that was disappointing. Would I read it again, maybe but I have so many new books I just don't know.
JamieS 10 days ago
This books plot resembles the story of Ruth and Boaz from the bible. This is Christian romance and it was interesting to see how they would modernize this bible story. There was some racy content, but this book will keep you interested. Thank you NetGalley for an E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
poodlelover 11 days ago
This is a new-to-me author and since this is an allegory of the Biblical love story of Ruth and Boaz, I was hooked. The author has done her research. You get a realistic picture of how brutal it was in 1857 during the Great Rebellion between Great Britain and India. There are traditions in the story of Ruth in the Bible that are difficult to read or understand, and the author dealt with the harshness of the treatment of women as delicately as she could without sugarcoating the truth. This was exciting to read the author’s first book and I look forward to seeing where her next book takes the reader. I was given a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. The opinions are my own.
PatriotMama 11 days ago
I went into this book not knowing what to expect. I wasn’t sure I was even going to like it. But after getting started I was quickly drawn in to the story. I loved Rena & Barric. I loved how the writer created the similarities to the story of Ruth. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
lmnop99 12 days ago
I was delighted with Shadow among Sheaves. This story brought a new perspective of the story of Ruth. The author balanced Biblical fact and creative writing perfectly! The tone throughout the book was so romantic and heartwarming. I loved the historical setting and detailed descriptions. This is a favorite of mine and one that I'll be reading over again and again. "I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review."
Anonymous 13 days ago
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. What a lovely first novel. This modernized re-telling of the Bible story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz highlights the problems of prejudice throughout history. The context is 1850s England’s colonization of India and the rebellion of the Indian soldiers. Some of the plot twists seemed a bit forced, but overall the story came to a satisfying conclusion.
LGUS 13 days ago
Naomi Stephens set the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz into England in 1861. Rena and her mother-in-law, Nell, left India where both of their husbands had died to return to Nell's relatives, who made up various stories of why they couldn't take Nell into their homes when they saw that Rena accompanied her. Soon destitute and starving, Rena picked up some fallen grain from Lord Barric's fields. The characters are likable, even though Lord Barric had to overcome society's expectations which took him awhile. Rena puts Nell's well-being above her own, and Nell treats Rena as her beloved daughter. One supporting character that I really liked was Parson Richardson, who behaved as a true Christian--giving, loving, and kind. The story is well written, the plot has twists and turns, and the dialogue seems natural for the time period. There were some slight mistakes with spacing which did not effect my enjoyment of reading Shadow Among Sheaves. I would highly recommend it to clean/wholesome romance readers and to Christian romance readers. I received a copy from NetGalley. I chose to write a review and share my opinion of this moving book.
Anonymous 13 days ago
This book is written really well. The allegory is clear - it's a Ruth retelling. The characters are real and the story is deep and vivid. It's a really good book - but the content, unfortunately, was too much for me. There were just too many mentions of prostitutes and other such things. However, if it were cleaner, I'd totally hold the book in higher regard because except for the content, it's really enjoyable and so well-done. I love the idea of a Ruth retelling in Victorian England, and I think that the author transitioned Rena, an Indian girl, to England so well. Everything felt quite realistic. Rena was a really good character - so strong, but she was so human. Overall I really enjoyed this book, except for the content. :/ *I was given a free copy of this book to review by NetGalley. These are all my honest thoughts and opinions.*
ReneeAnn 14 days ago
In an elegant writing style, Naomi Stephens moves Ruth & Naomi’s story to a brooding gothic setting to share the tale of determined heroine Rena, who sacrifices her dreams, her dignity, and her future to be true to her mother-in-law Nell. Rena suffers prejudice and ill-treatment by many before she is finally befriended, accepted, and loved. This is a quiet tale of those who rise above the ugliness of life to reach for what is true, noble, right, pure, and lovely. A treat for inspirational historical fiction lovers! Thanks to the publisher & NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this story! Quotes I liked . . . “You think your desert sands are everything, but there is a whole world beyond this heat. Someday I will take you to England. We’ll pluck apples from the trees and lie in the grass all evening while we eat them. And then I’ll whisper in your ear all the ways I love you.” “But Nell. . .” Rena whispered after a moment, as if hearing his questions. “I could not watch her board that ship alone, with nothing. She begged me at the docks to stay behind in India. But Nell is my family too, as much as my parents, and I must take care of her.” “No. I have spent more than enough time being taken care of. We all must suffer now and then, and I am strong enough to bear it. There is no other option than to endure.” In the end, Rena’s own words had persuaded her to follow Nell to church that morning. “Your home is my home,” she’d said all those weeks ago, when she’d begged to remain at the woman’s side. “And everything you are and everything you love—that is all I ever wish to be.” “She realized she’d stopped breathing. Blessed. The word clanged around inside of her. Blessed to mourn? To feel empty? Blessed to be poor and starving, she added bitterly, to have nowhere else to turn?” “But I miss the sand that gathers between the tiles in the entryway of our home, and the hibiscus that grows outside my chamber. I miss the way my father’s study smells in the early evening, of spices and ink, and the way the endless heat drags on for forever, hazing the horizon until the monsoon season comes. And if you look just right from the outer terrace, you can see men and women as they walk to the market, or the crimson coats of soldiers as they pass. . . .”
CarolJo 14 days ago
You will love this allegory of the story of Ruth in the Bible. You will admire Rena, an Indian woman who leaves India to return to England with her mother-in-law after they are both widowed. An Indian woman is unusual in the small village of Abbotsville and Rena faces much scorn as she attempts to prevent both of them from starving. Lord Barric was kind in allowing Rena to glean from his fields but at other times he was cruel to her leaving me with mixed emotions about him! Shadow among Sheaves is an unusual story which I am sure you will enjoy. I received an complimentary copy of the book by Naomi Stephens from NetGalley and Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
JLink 14 days ago
Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens was an emotional and moving story similar to that of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz in the Bible. I love the story of Ruth and Boaz. This story is similar, but disappointing. I was captivated while reading and I had a hard time putting the book down. It reminded me a little of a Victoria Holt novel. For me, the disappointing part was the absence of any spiritual qualities. Prayer was mentioned, church attendance was mentioned, baptism was mentioned. Unfortunately, true conversion/salvation was never discussed. I wasn't convinced that the characters were actually Christians. They seemed to be upstanding and moral, but that doesn't make you a Christian. Therefore, I really don't consider this book to be a historical Christian romance. The book was a "clean" book, but it contained many references of sexual innuendo. I don't think I would be comfortable recommending this book to many of my friends and definitely not my mother. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Wanda_M 15 days ago
I love historical romances, and this one, set in 19th century England, was truly a powerful and beautiful romance that will steal your heart away. Before I realized it, this amazing drama took me to a picturesque place back in time, where lords and ladies ruled. These very strong characters, especially Lord Barric, captivated my heart with his actions. I actually saw and felt the sadness and overwhelming excitement along with Rena. Their lives made this story so rich and exciting, and more uplifting. Along with a deep involved plot that took this reader on an adventure that I will not want to forget for some time. Rena was literally picking up grains of wheat from the fields for food because both women were starving, and did not know where their next meal was coming from. I pictured her with dirty grubby hands, digging in the dirt and searching for grains of wheat. This made me feel so sad for her, and angry at the people who stood around and talked instead of helping. That part of the story moved me to tears. In chapter 8 as Rena was searching the ground for something in the cold rain, I actually pictured her shivering, and her hands shaking while kneeling down and looking all around. Then along came Lord Barric. Then I saw the anger and frustration they both felt. There were so many emotions packed up in this amazing story. I want to thank Naomi Stephens for painting such a vivid picture with that part of the story so much, it touched my heart. Beautifully written. I not only read, I savored every word of this story. I loved it! A must read. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Ladybug1969 16 days ago
Shadow Among Sheaves is on of those books I couldn't put down! It is written in an engaging manner and I loved how it retold the story of Ruth! It made me want to re-read the story of Ruth in the Bible. Beautiful and exciting, I highly recommend this book!
delsiek51 16 days ago
Shadow Among Sheaves is an interesting novel based on the Biblical story of Ruth. Rena had a beautiful life in India, living under the protection of her parents. Her father is an interpreter for the British army during the Great Rebellion in 1857, so many officers came to their home. One day in the courtyard, Rena meets Edric. Marriage between an Indian woman and a British officer is against both cultures but that does not prevent Edric and Rena from falling in love and being married. It is a sad time in Rena’s life when Edric dies, leaving her a widow who is outcast due to her marriage. Thankfully, her parents agree to care for her. But when her father-in-law also dies, leaving her mother-in-law alone, Rena decides to go back to England with her to care for her. It is a very sad story that unravels as Nell is not accepted by family or friends because of Rena. Both women refuse to leave each other, and end up homeless and beggars. Finally, lodging is found in the most awful circumstances with Nell forced to do manual labor to pay for a barren room, while Rena continues to look for food so they don’t starve. The novel turns very interesting when Rena happens upon a field belonging to Lord Barric and gathers some grain left behind during the reaping process. It is exciting to learn that he is a relative, but will the story end like the story of Ruth? Will he ignore all the gossip? Will he listen to his uncle and friends? Will he listen to his heart? What does it mean for Rena when a new will is found that requires her to marry a relative so Nell can regain possession of her former home? Does that include the possibility of marrying Lord Barric’s uncle who is the closest relative? What will Rena do so that her mother-in-law is provided for? I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
BrendaLee 16 days ago
The first line in this book captured my attention. The writing is wonderful and the character’s strong personalities shown through. An allegory based on this story is always interesting. Rena sacrifices so much as did Ruth in the Bible to follow her mother in law. She was tired of poverty and did everything she knew to do to help their situation. I love strong heroines. Now Lord Barric was compassionate but he had to work to get past his prejudices and what people thought about him. But I liked him, maybe not love like I do some hero’s in the books I read. He is a different kind of hero than I usually read about but that’s ok because I like diversity. Each character grew in their faith and this was very inspirational. This makes us see how we can also grow spiritually. Now there were a few instances where bad language was used and I don’t like that so I am taking one star away. If you like historical, Bible based stories, I think you would enjoy this one. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous 17 days ago
Shadow among Sheaves By: Naomi Stephens The Great Rebellion of 1857 has brought discord between the British and the people of India. Despite the tensions, Rena an Indian woman and Edric a British soldier falls in love. An accident occurs leaving Rena and her mother in law widowed. Rena doesn’t feel welcome going to her parent’s home but instead decides to follow her mother in law back to England. England does not welcome Rena. Edric’s second cousin Lord Barric takes pity on Rena and her mother in law and choices to aid them. Lord Barric and Rena face the backlash of this decision together and find their hearts pulling them towards something more. This play off of Ruth and Boaz was an endearing read. Perhaps though because I am familiar with Ruth and Boaz’s life, I was a bit bored. There were obvious differences, however, I knew what was coming so there was not much to look forward to. It was a well-written book and the author did a wonderful job pulling you into the story. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion which I share here. https://simplyannehere.wordpress.com
Nicnac63 17 days ago
I have mixed feelings about Shadows Among Sheaves. I’ll start with the positive. I love discovering new authors and getting used to their storytelling voice. Naomi Stephens creates full and flawed characters and a rich setting. I love strong description that makes me feel as if I’m in the story—seeing the sun, the fields, etc. The author does this very nicely. The story pulled me in quickly but didn’t fully keep my interest. I wish I didn’t know this was a biblical retelling of Ruth and Boaz. I just don’t see a lot of similarity. I just couldn’t let go of this gnawing feeling as I read, and it definitely pulled me out of the story. Another thing I found bothering was Lord Barric. I just didn’t like him. To me, the story of Ruth and Boaz is more wholesome and respectful. This didn’t feel like a love story and seemed to be barely on the cusp of Christian fiction. I expected something different. If this wasn’t categorized as an allegory of Ruth and Boaz, I might’ve sunk deeper into the story. #ShadowsAmongSheaves Author: Naomi Stephens Publisher: Shiloh Run Press Pages: 384 First Line (Chapter One): Both women were starving. Source: I received a complimentary copy from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
sandralb 17 days ago
One of my favorite stories and books in the Bible is the story of Ruth and Naomi. Shadow Among Sheaves is a well written Allegory about this wonderful story. The time period is 1857. It takes place in England during the Great Rebellion. Rena a beautiful Indian widow returns home to England with her widowed mother-in-law Lady Nell Hawley. No one expected Rena to leave her homeland of Indian and her family behind when her husband a British Officer suddenly passed away. Moving to England with Nell, least of all Nell herself. Nell begged her to stay with her parents, where she would be taken care of. But just as in the Bible story Rena vowed to go and to take care of Nell. Our Boaz in this story is the land owner Lord Barric. He is captivated by Rena's beauty the first time he sees her in his fields, stealing grain. This book had me at the heartstrings right from the first page. Ms. Stephens is an incredible story teller. I loved the way she wrapped her book around the story of Ruth, yet you never knew what to expect, Ms. Stephens made it her own. The characters are so endearing, you will fall in love with them. I couldn't have asked for more. Fans of Christian historical romance will not be disappointed with Naomi Stephens new book. I received a copy of this book from Shiloh Run Press and Barbour Publishing through Net Galley. The opinions in this review are my own.