Sunday, July 13, 2014

In The Field Of Grace-Tessa Afshar

In The Field Of Grace
Tessa Afshar
River North, Jul 1 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9780802410979

Her family scorns Ruth as the Great Disappointment because they needed a son not another female, much taller than her father; her four older sisters and her parents would not miss her and prefer she leave.  In the marketplace of Kir-hareseth, Ruth the Moabite meets widow Naomi of Bethlehem who complements her beauty including her height and her kindness.  Naomi’s two sons (Mahlon and Chilion) bring home from the field Orpah where they meet reticent Ruth.  Not long afterward, Ruth and Mahlon, and Orpah and Chilion wed.  Due to a famine, they decide to head back to Judah, but the two men die.  Naomi tells her widow daughters-in-law they should go home; Orpah does but Ruth vows to stay with the older woman to keep her safe.

In Judah Ruth works the field of widower Boaz who still misses his late wife Judith though she died five years ago.  Boaz protects the chosen daughter of his cousin from those who consider her an inferior Moabite, but increasingly his attraction to hardworking Ruth grows. 

This is a pleasurable rendition of the biblical tale of Ruth that provides a remarkable backstory of her life in Moab as a doormat unable to accept complements.  However; that fascinating premise proves a double edged sword as it adds perceptiveness, but also subtracts from her unselfish decision as the crap she receives is no worse than what she took as a child from her family.  Still biblical fiction fans will delight in Tessa Afshar’s wonderful portrayal of Ruth toiling with grace and faith in a field where most detest her being a foreigner.

Harriet Klausner

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