In the Field of Grace is the retelling of the Old Testament story of Ruth, but it is so much more. It is a tale of hope, faith when all hope is gone, releasing and trusting, and a lovely love story.
Anyone familiar with the Old Testament knows the story of Ruth a Moabite who marries into a Jewish family who has sought refuge in Moab to escape the famine in their land. When he husband dies, Ruth accompanies her widowed and now motherless mother-in-law back to Israel where she eventually finds a home for both herself and her mother-in-law. In the process of this, she finds love, acceptance, and a place in the lineage of Christ. Ruths loyalty and Naomis faith are held up as standards in the Christian faith.
Initially, I was only interested in reading this because it was written by Tessa Afshar. I have read all of her books and she has a unique storytelling ability. Many books have been written using Ruths story even some done in modern settings. But, because of Tessa Afshars Middle Eastern background, she has infused new life in this story. She portrays Ruth as a young woman who never knew love until she met Naomi and her family. Ruth never felt worthy until she accepted Gods view of her. Her loyalty and hard work to take care of Naomi really stand out as does her growing love for God. Naomi becomes so relatable as the grieving mother and wife who in her losses questions Gods care for her. Boaz becomes a very wise and godly man who uses his personal prosperity to minister to and care for many. It is no wonder that they are part of the heritage of Christ.
I received a copy of this from NetGalley for my honest review.
A Historical Romance with Prevalent Spiritual Themes
October 12, 2014
Disregarded by her birth family, Ruth's desire to belong is satisfied in her marriage to Mahlon, a kind man whose mother, Naomi, treats Ruth as her own daughter. When Mahlon and his brother die, Ruth and Naomi journey to Bethlehem, Naomi's former homeland. Desperate for food and income, Ruth gleans, picking up the pieces left behind by the field reapers employed by Boaz. As the camaraderie between Ruth and Boaz transforms into romantic inklings, both are convinced that they can never be together. Will love find a way? Read more in Tessa Afshar's In the Field of Grace.
In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar is a Biblical retelling of the Book of Ruth. The author used plenty of literary license to add story details and character motives, but also inserted quotes from the Book of Ruth. Throughout the story, various characters are taught spiritual lessons which became the themes of the book. At times, I felt like characters learned certain lessons too easily. Without enough internal struggle or tension, the development seemed a bit inauthentic. Still, themes such as surrendering what one wants most into God's care and accepting God's will with joy even when circumstances are hard are primary messages in the book that will resonate with Christian readers. I enjoyed the storyline and interspersed humor. In the Field of Grace is a keeper that I'm likely to re-read.
Those who liked Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar will enjoy In the Field of Grace as there are substantial similarities in characters and plot. I recommend In the Field of Grace to Christian readers looking for a historical romance combined with prevalent spiritual themes.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
If the Bible account is re-written to make us employ our imagination - I wonder what it was like? - then good job, mostly. Ruth being one of my favorite Bible parts, I couldn't quite wrap my mind around Boaz not being a bachelor. Older than the young(er) fields hands? Of course, or he would not be the obviously well-to-do and well-known person in the community.
I have one really serious concern: The cover portrait. I am not a 'scholar' and/or 'expert', but that modern hair cut and the look on the lady's face? And the hands held? Against a backdrop of fields, implying the before-the-wedding time? Ms. Afshar should have vetoed that one and requested as careful research on the illustration as seems to have been done for the writing.
the story had been transposed into modern times, the cover might work. As Ms. Afshar stayed with the Biblical Old Testament era it's not a fit.
Beautifully entertaining and inspiring story of Ruth
July 30, 2014
Tessa Afshar is a gifted writer whose stories exemplify what I hope for when I pick up a Christian fiction book, and that is the skillful communication of spiritual truths in a way that entertains while inspiring and encouraging me to grow in my faith. Drawing from what is familiar to many, Tessa fleshes out the Old Testament story of Ruth with rich characterization, emotional romance, historical background, and spiritual depth. The four chapters of Ruth are combined with a moving fictional narrative in a way that doesn't take away or change the biblical account. For an even richer experience, I recommend reading the book of Ruth both before and after reading In the Field of Grace.
There was nothing about the portrayal of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz that felt unrealistic; in fact, the very opposite was true, because they felt real. It was easy to sense the depth of Naomi's despair and anger over her losses, why Ruth was willing to leave her family and religion of idolatry, and the incredible goodness of Boaz - who, as a kinsman redeemer, becomes a picture of Christ.
Failing to be the son her parents hoped for, Ruth grew up unwanted, invisible, and with constant criticism - whereas in Naomi's family, she found extravagant, undeserving approval. Ruth wasn't wildly in love with Mahlon, but "he drew her like a shepherd's fire on a freezing desert night. . . . Being with Naomi's family was like an antidote to the bitterness of her own relations." Watching Ruth respond to the call of God on her heart and cling to her faith is very moving.
I really liked seeing the character of Boaz fleshed out, because I've never had a clear image of what he might have been like. Wealthy, middle aged, highly respected, generous and caring, with a soft spot for those in need - and we see the great insight Boaz has into the human heart in the scene with the crippled boy, Eli, one of my favorite parts.
Our pastor recently took us through a sermon series where we looked at the stories of biblical characters and events (the lower story), then how God's hand could be seen throughout (the upper story). That's exactly what Tessa brings out so clearly with In the Field of Grace. So many spiritual themes spoke to me - important themes I've known all my life, but constantly need to be reminded of. For instance, that God always has a plan for our lives and obedience is key . . . even if we don't receive the desires of our heart, we can find contentment in Him . . . every person has extreme value in God's sight . . . no sorrow is ever wasted in God's hands.
Tessa knows the ways of God and conveys them beautifully through her writing. I'm impressed not only with Tessa's writing skills, but her heart. God looks for those who have a heart for Him, whose hearts beat for Him, and that's what Tessa brings out in Ruth - her love, faithfulness, self sacrifice, and compassion. Ruth questions why the life of one Moabite widow would matter to the Lord of heaven and earth, and I think the book's overarching theme is expressed in these words: "The Lord uses odd instruments to fulfill His will. The weaker the vessel, the better He likes it. It only proves His strength."
I appreciate a book that challenges or makes me examine my faith. When Boaz is asked to surrender that which is most precious to him, Ruth, I had to in turn ask myself, what have I held back from the Lord? Tessa concludes with a wonderful epilogue that shows how the upper story plays out, and I'll conclude with these words spoken by David to his son, Solomon, that challenge us as well . . .
"There is only one measure of true success. How close you remain by God's side. Does the dust of His feet get on your cloak because you follow so close? Does the sound of His whisper reverberate in your ear because you have drawn so near? Are you obedient to that voice, day after day, hour after hour?"
Thank you to Tessa Afshar for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Oh, my! Another amazing release from Tessa Afshar!!
I have loved every book I've read by Ms. Afshar, and this one is no exception! To make things even better, she writes about Ruth and Boaz in In the Field of Grace! The story of Ruth is a long time favorite of mine. I was so thrilled to discover that's who I'd be reading about. I love how Ms. Afshar tries to stay true to the Bible while also threading in fiction where there are gaps or "loose ends" in the story. She did this in a truly amazing way.
I loved how she characterized Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. She fleshed them out, gave them dreams, gave them fears... In essence, she breathed life into them. One day when I'm in Heaven I'm going to ask Ruth to tell me her story. (As well as ask many other people, but I digress...) It wouldn't surprise me if Ruth reveals many of the same emotions that Ms. Afshar portrays in the story. It's beautifully done. This is another book that will have a permanent place on my shelf to be re-read, and lent to people who I think need the story brought to life. I'm very picky with what Biblical fiction I read, but I'm proud to say Tessa Afshar's works have made the cut. ;-) I recommend this novel to fans of Biblical fiction anywhere from adults to the teenagers of fifteen.
I received this book from River North through CFBA in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!!