By Lindsay Starck
Noah’s Wife is a story of a community battered by a relentless downpour from the heavens, a gray and wet little town teeming with eccentric characters who have learned to endure the extraordinary circumstances of the rain with astonishing human fortitude and willfulness.
When Noah’s wife arrives with her minister husband to this small coastal town, she is driven by her desire to help revive the congregation. However, she is thwarted by the resistance of her eccentric new neighbors and her failure to realize that her husband is battling his own internal crisis.
As Noah and his wife strive to bring the townspeople to the church—and keep the strains on their marriage at bay—the rain intensifies, impeding their efforts. Soon the river waters rise, flooding the streets of the town and driving scores of wild animals out of the once-renowned zoo. And so, Noah, his wife, and the townspeople must confront the savage forces of nature and attempt to reinforce the fragile ties that bind them to each other before their world is washed away.
Full of whimsy and gentle ironic humor, Noah’s Wife is a wise and poignant novel that draws upon the motifs of the biblical flood story to explore the true meaning of community, to examine the remarkable strength of the human spirit, and to ask whether hope can exist even where faith has been lost.
I found this story hard to read at times and unbelievably slow. The flow is disjointed as the story tells the tale of multiple complex characters whose stories don’t always connect. Noah the minister in the story comes to save a town immersed in depression from the continuing rain and finally concludes that faith is only an illusion. His wife April, is a minister’s wife who has no real faith or life of her own but gradually becomes the stronger believer of the two.
Mrs McGinn is the patriarch of the town who keeps the false hope that “everything will be all right” however she eventually realizes that hope is the real problem. Her daughter who is engaged to the zookeeper and pregnant just wants to get away. The Zookeeper wants to make the daughter happy however feels obliged to stay with his animals. Mario is the hardware store owner, an Italian who dreams about going back to Italy and distrusts banks so he keeps his money in his boat.
Dr Yu is a childhood friend of April and wants to save everyone. Her widowed Dad gives up his life after the death of his wife to become a really bad magician.
The town itself is becoming destroyed as the rains swell the river to the point of flooding the town. There are animals to be saved and the townspeople end up taking the Zoo animals into their homes when the Zoo goes under water. This part was completely unbelievable.
Too many characters and too many emotional meltdowns made me feel like the story was neither progressing nor regressing. Although I could see the parallel to the Noah’s ark story I kept hoping as I was reading for the rain to stop and for a dove to bring back a green leaf so that there might some brightness and happiness to the ending.