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.
Tessa Afshar has captured the beauty and drama of the biblical story of Ruth the Moabitess, who chooses to cast her lot with her mother-in-law Naomi, the widow from Bethlehem. When Ruth herself becomes a widow, she accompanies Naomi back to her homeland and helps them survive by gleaning in the fields owned by a wealthy landowner, Boaz. The love story that grows out of this odd relationship is summarized in the books title, In the Field of Grace. Grace, the essence of the story of Ruth and Boaz, is recognized and felt on both sides.
Boazs words to Ruth when they first meet come straight from the Bible. May the Lord repay you for what you have done [for your mother-in-law]. May the God of Israel, under whose wings you have some to take refuge, give you a full reward.
Some fine writing shows up in this book. The first two sentences: Death squatted at Boazs door. He could sense its presenceinexorable, hungry, patient.
When Naomi lines out her plan for Ruth to lay at Boazs feet on the threshing floor, she tells her daughter-in-law, You must be courageous, Ruth. There is a hazard to this plan. I dont deny it. You must risk exposure, perhaps even rejection. But Boaz is worth it. What was it you told Adin? Bear the cost of your love. It is your turn to do that for Boaz. . . .
Picking up on Ruths well-known words to Naomi, Where you go, I will go. Your people will be my people, Naomi reminds Ruth. Another thing. You should understand that the Lord speaks these words to you. He is not sending you to Boazs presence alone. With every step you take toward that threshing floor, the Father of our people makes a promise to you. Where you go, I will go. He will not abandon you to go to Boaz by yourself. He will go with you. . . . He will give you His strength to do what you must. Do you understand?
We know how the story ends. Ruth tells Boaz, You are my home. You and the Lord. Ive never been so happy, All I ever wanted was to belong. Naomi and her family gave me that. When death ripped it away, I thought I was done with joy. I thought the best I could do was to survive. Live another day. Then you came into my life and I learned to love in a deeper way. I thought death was the end of my dreams. But death led me to you.
So much that is good in this book, but some of the action and dialogue felt contrived and lacked smooth, natural flow. The authors heart is in this story, however, and I believe readers will be caught up in the drama of this classic love story.