Thursday, June 19, 2014

In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

Every time I approach a re-telling of a Bible story, I feel a sense of trepidation. Will the book be faithful to the spirit of the story? Will it cross that invisible line between re-telling and making up a new story? Questions like these cross my mind all the time.

Thankfully, In The Field of Grace managed to put my doubts to rest. It's a well-written re-telling of the story of Ruth, from the point of the Ruth herself. If you've read the Bible before, you'd be familiar with the basic story of Ruth, a woman who left her homeland to follow her mother-in-law to a foreign country, cared for her and eventually married the prosperous Boaz and became an ancestor of King David. In The Field of Grace takes this story and adds more detail: What was their journey like? How did Ruth and Boaz fall in love (They did fall in love right?)? Who wrote the book of Ruth?

By the way, the author admits that the plot involving who wrote the book of Ruth is all a product of her imagination, and she is by no means trying to assert this as truth. The afterword of this book, which talks about the inspiration behind the book, and contains explanation of certain parts, should definitely be read after the story.

What I liked about this story was that throughout the whole book, there is the sense that Ruth is being called by God. It's a powerful reminder that God loves all of us, and he can use even the most unlikely "outsider" for his purposes.

The strength of this book is that it makes you feel the trials and tribulations of Ruth very deeply. Through the imagination of the author, I managed to understand how hard it must have been for Ruth to leave her country and move to Israel, where she would be ostracised as an outsider. The bitterness of Naomi was also powerfully written, and I could feel her pain when she called for her friends to call her "Mara".

All in all, this is a wonderful retelling of Ruth. While a lot of artistic license has been taken (after all, the book goes into Ruth's friendships in Israel, which is definitely not in the original book of the Bible), the book stays faithful to the spirt of the original book.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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