It’s 1861 in England, and Rena is traveling back to England from India with her widowed mother-in-law, Nell. The problem? Rena is Indian, and is the widow of an English husband, Edric Hawley. Because of the Indian uprising against the English colonizers, Rena is not welcome in England, but she will not abandon Nell, who is also known as Lady Hawley. Nell and Rena are destitute because of a problem with Lord Hawley’s will. Amid taunts and threats of sexual abuse Rena finds a way to feed and care for Nell.
In this, her debut novel, Naomi Stephens spins a lovely tale of love, desperation, and resiliency in overcoming prejudice, bullying, fear, and starvation. In a time when Indian widows were scorned and often killed, Rena’s leaving India not only helped Nell, but probably saved Rena’s life. These characters are so life-like, I felt Rena’s pain and confusion while trying to adapt to a completely different culture, and Nell’s despair over losing her beloved family home.
Shadow Among Sheaves makes statements about the British invasion and colonization of India, 19th century human rights for women, the manner in which the poor were, and often still are treated, and the ability to love and trust again after a devastating loss. Stephens’ story is strong and heartfelt. It is Christian fiction that shares that God’s love is for all people, but is not preachy, as some may think.
What Makes This Reviewer Grumpy?
- Incorrect verb usage (was vs. were, take vs. bring, coming vs. going);
- Incorrect usage of the word “gleaning”: Rena was gleaning. The workers were harvesting.
- Redundancies (report back vs. report);
- Missing commas;
- Split infinitives;
- Mixing singular and plural within a sentence;
- Using “further” in place of “farther”: they are not interchangeable.