Nancy Debretsion

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An ancient story brought to life

The strongest impression of this story is sensual: color, sound, texture, smell, movement, internal sensations. That's befitting for the first wedding and none-to-private wedding nights after disembarking from the ark. The details of the dances, the clothing, and particularly of the customs seem very real. The morning after rituals for the new bride and customs to increase the chances of a child are particularly interesting.

I like the use of the original story's details - the rainbow hanging in the sky (in this case, even at night), the wine, the scavenged ark with the remnant teetering into the sea. And I like that the implications of the story are brought out in a way that's absent in the original - regret about the people they knew who were lost and Ham's acknowledgement of all the culture, knowledge, stories lost as well. And of course, that detail that is always in the back of people's minds: who did the kids all marry? First cousins will do in a pinch (and there's an implication that Livi, at least, thinks there may be more people to find if she eventually leaves the group).

The characters are all individuals. The brothers are interesting. Japheth who looks like stern father Noah but is full of dirty humor is funny. Shem's a bit grasping. Ham has the emotional depth. The contrast of the twins, Egyptus and Livithia, and their different attitudes toward men and marriage are well brought out in the different sense details they notice. It's a nice twist that their closeness that makes them natural choices to both marry the same man (at a time when they had few choices at all) is resolved by these different attitudes. Livi gets Aram's protection but won't be Egyptus's rival.

This is a nice interlude in the big epic of Noah and his family starting the human race anew.

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