This book was a pleasant surprise. I read a recommendation for it (actually, for another book by the author) off a day-by-day calendar, picked it up at the library two days later, and had finished it two days after that.
Maine takes the story of Noah and the ark and fills in all the details. It's similar to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in that he's taking a story about which we know little and filling in all the empty bits: what were the people really like, what did the ark look like and how was it built, and where did all those animals really come from? My favorite sections were the ones exploring the daughters-in-law, who were dragged into this adventure in spite of how they felt, and their thoughts and feelings show them to be fully different characters. The book is a very quick read - about 250 pages, but I finished it in under 36 hours. I could easily see it being written as an epic, sweeping novel, but instead it is light and a relatively easy read. That's not to say it isn't serious; it is. But it's not overburdened or cumbersome.
The book also does not step around the humanity of the characters. Even Noah is portrayed as flawed, despite the fact that God saw him as a righteous man. The people are concerned about sex, and their chidren, and food. It also portrays what I suspect is a reasonably accurate depiction of ancient life in the Middle East.
I like this idea (similar to Wicked, I suppose) of taking a little event that everyone knows of and fleshing it out in a completely fictional way. The author has another book about Adam and Eve and a third about Samson. Those are now securely on my "to-read" list.
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