Tessa Afshar is probably my all-time favorite Biblical fiction author. Mainly because she doesnt avoid depicting biblical characters and culture honestly. This can be uncomfortable for some of us, especially if you struggle with biblical societys attitudes toward women, or the harsh realities that permeated their lives. She doesnt pull any punches in these areas and her portrayals of women and the ancient societies they lived in are stronger for it. Tessa Afshar reminds me of one of my favorite authors, Francine Rivers. In her Lineage of Grace series, Rivers tells the stories of the women in the lineage of Christ and highlights the theme of redemption that flows through these Old Testament stories. (Great series, I highly recommend it!)Tessa Afshar does this as well, or maybe even better than Francine Rivers. I know thats high praise, but she deserves it. It can be hard to give readers a fresh take on well-known biblical characters, but Tessa Afshar does this spectacularly with Ruth in In the Field of Grace.
I confess I have always loved the biblical story of Ruth. I love the whole poor girl rich guy theme of the story. Tessa Afshars In the Field of Grace brings the story to life and fills in so many blanks in the biblical account that readers will think she was there to see them.
Dirt poor and without hope in her home country, the widowed Ruth chooses to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, to the land of Naomis birth. Naomi does everything she can to discourage Ruth but relents after Ruth gives her, Dont ask me to leave you! speech. Difficulties after hardship after danger dog their steps. They arrive in Bethlehem to a house that has been trashed by animals and a roof that gives glimpses of the sky above through the many holes that have developed in it. In spite of everything, Ruth does what she does best: persevere and trust the Lord. She learned early in her marriage to Naomis son, Mahlon, that the gods of the Moabites were ineffective and that the God of Israel was worthy of her trust.
Ruth takes the responsibility of providing for her little family. She chooses a field to glean in where the workers seem happy and comes under the watchful eye of the fields owner, Boaz. Ruth captures his interest and a friendship develops. When they fall in love, neither can believe that the other could possibly be interested.
Why was Ruth willing to leave the country of her birth and walk into the unknown with Naomi? What was it about Ruth that drew Boaz to her in the first place? How did this hated Moabite woman become one of the most loved in all of Judah?
I love how the biblical story peeks through in this book. Its almost like the Bible is the Readers Digest Condensed version and In the Field of Grace is the unabridged version. It fills in and explains parts of the story that were always left to the imagination.
This is a fairly quick read but well worth the time. Now I need to read "A Pearl In the Desert", Rahab's story. This one was fantastic!
Loved the use of God's Word applied throughout, speaking to my heart, mind and soul right where I am today - God is so good! Afshar's creative endings brought huge delight. I've read through the actual Book of Ruth over and over since with fresh insights. Thank you Tessa!
I've read quite a few Ruth stories, but this one still managed to seem different and unique and captivated me. I love my Biblical retellings, and this one was no different.
I liked how this one veered from some of the other Ruth stories that are out there to stand out. I love how Afshar added in Boaz's first wife, which I hadn't seen before. I also liked how Afshar reimagined Ruth's growing up/family life as not-so-positive, which I also hadn't seen done before. And the epilogue, skipping all the way over to David and Solomon, was interesting and a great way to end the story.
The writing style captured me from the beginning, and captivated me the whole way through. I liked how it switched perspectives from Boaz to Ruth, to add another dimension to the story. The culture was well researched, and made me feel like she knew what she was talking about, which I've always found important.
I respect the creative license the author took with the story, as she still made it seem true and respectful to the Biblical account. I felt like Ruth and Boaz were real people, with real emotions and feelings, instead of just someone from so long ago, that we only hear stories about.
Retelling a Bible story can be hard, but I think Afshar did a great job not only creatively but emotionally, bringing a new depth to the story.