I[I received both review copies through Netgalley] Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond: I was phenomenally impressed with the literary competence displayed by Catherine Richmond in the first title I have read by this author. If you, like, me are driven deep into a novel by well-realized characterization; then you have come to the right party. Sophia Manikoff is certain that her beau will not only become a US Congressman; but also propose. Her future seems safe and secure until the unthinkable happens and she is brushed aside for another woman.
Sophia acts rashly and registers for the Board of Foreign Missions, certain she’ll be spirited off to the Far East and not to the Ponca Indian Agency in Dakota Territory. Nonetheless, it is here she lands and is thrust into a world completely devoid of anything familiar. She befriends the locals, sets long-standing customs on their ear and dapples in a budding romance with the local carpenter, Willoughby Dunn. I was not only impressed by the descriptive flare of Richmond’s prose; but also her meticulously-researched yarn. Moreover, I enjoyed Sophia’s intelligence and her grasp of numerous languages. Learning more about her unique Russian heritage was welcome. Will was a welcome suitor; mentally-matched to the spirited Sophia and the harsh winter, difficult situations and violent surroundings of this Territory are well met by Richmond’s competent pen.
This Scarlet Cord by Joan Wolf comes after the success of her re-telling of the Esther story. Here, she re-imagines Rahab’s life in Jericho from the time of her youth: a young Canaanite woman of unique beauty who nearly escapes a life of slavery by the help of prominent Sala ( the Biblical Salmon ) and his father. Time moves forward and Rahab is pitted against the well-known historical events in the Bible: including her hiding of two Israeli spies from Joshua’s army. Sala’s military connections are also explored. I must confess that this is not the most accurate representation of the Bible story; infused with a rather fictional realization and colouring of events that stray from the original text. What Wolf excels in, however, is her grasp of the political and cultural climate of Rahab’s age: she does well at painting the pagan rituals as well as the star-crossed love of Canaanite girl Rahab and Israeli boy Sala. The issue of women being used as commodities to secure financially-appropriate marriages is also explored. This book is exceptionally readable.