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In the Shadow of the Ark

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  645 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Told from the point of view of a stowaway, this "beautiful, solemn, heavy retelling of the story of Noah's ark" ("Kirkus Reviews") by an international bestselling author offers a whole new take on the biblical account. Includes a reader's guide.
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Berkley (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
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 ·  645 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Dec 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: library-books
This is a bizarre and intensely dislikable book. It's been a while since I read it but I do remember that it didn't make much sense and that the end was really, really weird. In fact, it's a measure of how much this book aggravated me that about six years after reading it, I spent half an hour searching for it even though I couldn't remember the title or the author's full name, just to give it a bad review!

I really wouldn't recommend it just in case you had any doubts. The main chara
Feb 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book is written as well as most fiction on ancient history, but the author uses it as a pulpit to declaim the Tanakh/Bible with popular atheist diputations; in the process of pointing out all the "obvious" fallacies in the Tanakh's version of the Great Flood, the author displays her own lack of knowledge about factual history, not to mention what the Tanakh actually says.

In addition to the narration of events, the author chooses to depict every character traditionally seen as "good" as a l
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
I wish I could get past feeling like someone is retelling the Bible to fit their needs and wants...

I'd really like to like this book, but it was just ok.
Pretty funny (and telling) that looking through the reviews of this, almost all of them are by women. Midrash-like chick lit? I suppose, but this book definitely has some depth. It sucked me in, and really interestingly delved into the "other people's shoes" dimension about what it was like for those "on the other side of the ark," so to speak, in the Noah's ark story. Raises some pretty salient and discomfiting questions about justice as the ark is being built, and pretty fascinating imaginings ...more
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
This a not the story of Noah you have read in the bible. It is very loosely based upon it--it includes an ark and Noah's family-- but is very clearly a piece of fiction. That said, I enjoyed the book up to the last 75 pages when it took a very bizarre turn. I won't give away the details but will say there were multiple rapes and a suicide, among other very odd events. It felt as though another author suddenly started writing. The whole tone and tenor of the book changed, and not for the good. I ...more
Very weird book. Maybe having been translated from Dutch accounts for the 'foreign' feeling of the story. Did not like any of the characters. Noah & his family were all creepy-definitely seemed more pre biblical than Old Testament. It was all violent & dirty & the ark building & 'rescue' from the flood seemed more a punishment than a salvation. No green pastures & plenty at the end of the journey- just mud & flies and desolation and familial disintegration. A real downer. ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
To compare Provoost's survivor of the flood to Diamante's Red Tent would do both a disservice. Yes, both are commentaries of a minor incident in the Old Testament; both have a female protagonist; and both are fictional (auto) biographical from the point of view of the protagonist. The difference is that Diamante writes in the voice of the "chosen" and the marginalized (i.e. woman) within the chosen. Provoost writes of the marginalized marginalized. Re Jana is black, of working class, and an emig ...more
The Idle Woman
When I saw this novel tucked away in a local charity shop, I pounced immediately. How could I resist a story about the Ark so soon after ferreting deep into the history of its legend? Originally published in Dutch in 2001 (the author is Flemish), it has been translated into English by John Nieuwenhuizen and takes us into a strange and foreign world of fishermen and nomads, boat-builders and prophets. And, at the heart of the tale, is the rumour of a great boat being built in the middle of a dese ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was pretty interesting. The viewpoint of the narrator, the emerging faith, the mistakes the characters make, add up to a riveting tale.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
A "message of doom," from start to finish
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book made me think about the complexity of Noah’s mission. He merely a peripheral character in this story, which also raises questions about faith, justice, and family. Glad I read it.
K Kolstad
Jan 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
This just got worse and worse.
Althea Ann
Following on the commerical success of Anita Diamant's 'The Red Tent,' publishers have struck on Belgian author Anne Provoost's retelling of the story of Noah's Ark as their next great hope...
However, although it does tell a Biblical story from the perspective of a young woman, in many ways the two are not very similar books.
Where 'Red Tent' is in many ways a very historical, 'how it might have been' kind of tale, Provoost is more concerned with the mythic and especially the allegori
Lacey Louwagie
May 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who enjoy retold Biblical stories, airmchair theologians
So, interesting story about this book. I saw it at a book sale and was like, "Cool, a Noah's Ark book!", and since I had a thing for Noah's ark when I was a kid, I bought it. The author's name sounded familiar to me but I couldn't put my finger on it. It wasn't until I saw the same book on my uncle Vincent's bookshelf in Mexico that I realized Anne is one of my cousins that live in Belgium. So I decided to read this book before going to Belgium in case I might get the chance to meet Anne. Anne w ...more
Jan 03, 2010 rated it liked it
A retelling of the biblical story of the flood and Noah's Ark, this vivid and dramatic novel with its historical setting and broad cast of interconnected characters is reminiscent of Anita Diamant's The Red Tent (St. Martins, 1997). Re Jana and her family -- a carpenter father and stroke-disabled mother -- travel to the desert, where they discover a ship surrounded by sand and a city to support its creation. Unsure if they believe the rumor that the world is to be destroyed by water, the father ...more
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Was very troubled after reading this book 6 or so years ago, but a random thought had me remembering it, so I spent the time searching for this until now.

I did not like it. For a book that is shelved for young adults in the library, I felt in my 14/15 year old age the mature ominous content was too much for me then. Maybe it is just my own preference, or tendency to hold back on this more mature book for juvenile minds but I would not give this book to any young child.

The rape scenes were horr
May 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, religion
Read because of her interview in Bill Moyers' Faith and Reason series. This started well and was interesting, but there were some really weird parts towards the end. It's interesting to extrapolate a big story from a few passages in the Old Testament, but I like the idea of adapting ancient history and myth into terms that we can understand. The OT is just a bizarre piece of work and hard for me to gain any kind of wisdom or comfort from, but fascinating from a cultural perspective. I know from ...more
Sianne Morrison
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: historic, family-saga
I enjoyed this book, although it was at times strange, but this may have something to do with translating issues. I am not big one the whole Noah's Ark story, but this was an interesting idea/twist with the way the "Chosen Ones" (Noah's family) dealt with their status, problems and delemas. On one level the way the Chosen Ones happily raped people, treated their people with contempt and disgust, abused people - including their own, and took on concubines, was contradictory and certainly not the ...more
Sep 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
A weird interpretation of the Bible story of Noah and the ark. True, the Bible doesn't give a whole lot of detail, so I expected some artistic liberties would be taken. But this was a bit too off the mark for me. In this version, Noah was a sick old invalid who was keeping the reason for the ark a secret, not preaching repentance to the people. And the "chosen" (aka Noah and his family) were just as wicked, if not more so, than the rest of the people. Which is part of the author's point, I think ...more
Molly chaucer
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Provoost writes very simply and to the point. Although I'm sure that some of the nuance of the book has been lost through translation. The author,s characters are authentic and human. Sometimes I feel that Biblical characters might appear to be without fault. Especially in the Noah and the Ark story. The writers of the Bible leave our imaginations to wonder what really happened. Provoost took the opportunity to theorize what might have come to fruition and brought new life into the story. I was ...more
Apr 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Another between-ratings book. I almost gave it a 3, but it was more that it intrigued me than that I liked it. There was something weird about the character development - the entire narration was from the point of view of the main character, but I never felt particularly like I got to know her. On the plus side, it's an interesting version of "reading between the lines" of a Bible story - more in the spirit of The Red Tent than The Garden.
Sep 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
Well, this book was very disappointing- the plot is very promising: we follow a girl who falls in love with Ham (Noah's son) and gets on the ark.......however, it is not well- written and just did not keep my interest whatsoever. I did finish it, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. Provoost's portrayal of Noah as a feeble, ill, not-very-nice man kind of made me my opinion, not a good read!
Nov 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book was just okay for me. It reminded me a lot of THE RED TENT but it was just so raw. The characters were all so hopeless and non-redeeming. (which I guess is why God killed everyone off and covered the earth with water!) I never really had a feel for what people looked like or who they really were? I did enjoy the addition of the dodo birds on the ark! The premise of the story is interesting with the take-off of the bible story but I feel the author failed in delivery.
Mar 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I read this book for a book group, and while it took me a little while to get into, I wound up enjoying it a lot. Very interesting take on a biblical myth, from the outside. I'd never thought about what it would have been like to have all those animals on a big boat... not pretty. I found the narrator a little too dispassionate, which created distance between me and the events--but that felt in keeping with the mythical nature of the story.
Jun 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Well written, interesting prospective of Noah, the ark, family, and the flood.
Told from an outsider, it takes the story of Noah's Ark and makes it more human - how did they build the boat, who was chosen and why, how did the flood happen, what was it like on the boat? Nothing technical of course, and beautifully written and translated. Human emotions always come through - love, greed, pride.

Would definitely read other books by this author.
I'm almost embarrassed to admit I bothered to finish this book. Clearly, there was nothing else to read, including shampoo bottles or fire extinguisher instructions.

The whole twisting around of the Noah story didn't bother me. I consider the "source material" for that complete fiction anyway, so one fiction piled onto another isn't the problem. It just started out bad and then took a left turn into weird and stayed there.

The whole thing was just a train wreck.
Kelly Crosgrove Sullivan Bredon
Interesting book. It is a story of Noah's Ark from the perspective of a person that was not chosen to be on the Ark. It is a glimpse of what it may have been like to be part of the community of workers who built the ark and how the ark was laid out to house all the animals. It does question the morals of "the chosen people" and God's reasoning to flood the earth.

I personally thought it was too derogatory for my beliefs, but still interesting.
Jbl Robinson
Very thought provoking ... A woman and not one of "the chosen" and who does not surrender to fate or man's dictates makes a very fascinating read ... fast & furious ... How could a God ... any God ... determines who deserves to live or die ... very relevant too in the changing times we now live ... one where old traditions are scrutinized and challenged as to how well it serves us as a global village ... I would recommend ...
Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, historical
Rejana, her father, and her crippled mother flee the rising waters of the swamp to the desert, where the Builder is creating a giant ship to please his god. Her father's expertise make the project possible. But Rejana is hearing rumors that only the Builder, his sons, and their wives will escape the coming disaster. Even though Rejana loves Ham, one of the sons, she is not of the elect. Now she and her family must struggle to escape the rising waters once again.
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