The Book of Ruth

The Book of Ruth

by Jane Hamilton
4.0 41

Hardcover(REISSUE)

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Overview

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

Winner of the 1989 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award for best first novel, this exquisite book confronts real-life issues of alienation and violence from which the author creates a stunning testament to the human capacity for mercy, compassion and love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780395866504
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 12/28/1996
Edition description: REISSUE
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.58(h) x 1.17(d)

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Book of Ruth 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
dancestoblue More than 1 year ago
One of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The story isn't pretty of course, it's sad.  Ruth's life is sad; Ruth and May and Ruby all broken people, and don't know how to do it, don't know how to live with grace or ease.  Awkward, all of them, and cruelty in them all, weaknesses. But I love Ruth.  No, really -- I love her.  She's one of my all-time favorite heroines.  She's no comic book heroine, she's not perfect by any definition you'd ever find.  Except maybe as a storyteller, getting it all down for us, telling us about it all.  Completely unconscious of her greatness, words and phrases of simple beauty come out of her pen. Hamilton is brilliant.  The book she's crafted here -- her first book out of the gate, too -- it's a gem.  I think of Heller, his amazing characterizations -- how I loved Catch22!  Because he painted his characters with such intimacy, is why; yes, it's a very funny book, and a great book, but my greatest love of it is reading the characters he's created, and given to us. Hamilton is as good.  People in reviews I've read go on about how sad it is, it's a depressing story, it doesn't have a Hollywood ending, etc and etc.  Hey, it's Saturday evening as I key this in, get yourself to your local cineplex and watch some Hollywood garbage, a perfect smile kissing fake breasts and both of them walking off into the sunshine. Meanwhile, back here in the real world, there are real, live, breathing people, doing what they can, as they can.  That's what Hamilton gives us -- real people.  Ruth.  May.  Ruby.  Miss Finch, telling Ruth she had "good thoughts.".  Elmer.   The Rev .  The cruel, cruel children in her schools.  Aunt Sid.  Daisy, for chrissake.  Matt.  On and on, one after another, Hamilton takes us right there, we're with these people, she gets us right into the rooms with them, and the pastures, and the school rooms, and the old house that binds and binds And Hamilton gives us pure art, her turns of phrase just flat amazing, the turns of her story every bit as good.  She tells us out of Ruth's mouth, in Ruth's character, in Ruth's tongue, but in the turns of her story she puts stories into Ruth's life, the blind tapes from Miss Finch, which gives Ruth words and metaphors, and Ruth being so shy and so isolated and insular the words are simple, the story, while large, told simply. I'm from Illinois, a brother trades, shows, breeds Belgian draft horses, lives not far from where Hamilton put this story.  The people are real.  That town -- Honey Creek -- it's dead on the money, Hamilton nailed it.  I haven't lived in those towns -- no way I'd want to -- but I know them well, and Hamilton has those people pegged.  It rings true. I've given this book to people who aren't afraid to look life in the eye, who love beauty even if it's not prettiness, can understand that difference, don't need to be lied to.  It was passed my way by a woman I trust totally, a great art heart, and I've since bought it for others who don't need a burnished Vermeer or soft purple Monet, people who get Van Gogh and Braque, who aren't put off or uncomfortable standing in front of a Hans Hoffman painting. I don't know what else I can tell you.  Read this book.  Or don't, if you need pretty.  But if you love beautiful, this is a great place to look -- beauty lives in Hamilton's words.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found the Book of Ruth extremely depressing, although it was well-written. Hamilton's book, "A Map of the World," has a much better plot and offered some hope at the end. There is enough horror in the real world without having to read novels like Book of Ruth. I read it because I am in a book discussion group and this was selected. Only one woman in the group liked it. Incidentally I have a master's degree and my undergraduate degree is in English literature, so I am well read. If this were not an Oprah selection it would not have been successful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Book of Ruth took me by surprise in so many ways but the intiguing and very different way she saw the the world and events in her life were what kept me turning pages. Jane Hamilton was able to develop a character with limited education and experiences who was quite believable and whose narration continually aroused my interest.I found this character to be full of hope and determination in a world where others would have found only despair.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think this book is good. I liked it, I enjoyed reading this novel because I was getting to know someone who had it hard and still had a chance to do some good and though she may have lost somethings like her family, and husband, she gained a new life, a new start and a new chance at happiness.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book after it was required reading in my daughter's English class and the reviews I had read were good. I was disappointed. There is no doubt that the subject was interesting. There are important lessons to be learned from Ruth's life. However, the writing could have been better. The story was told in the first person but a lot of what Ruth was thinking was in language that was too sophisticated for her. When that happened, it was unrealistic. Also, I think telling the story from her point of view also limited what we could learn about some of the other characters, like Matt and even May. Ruth did not really understand them and so we do not get full pictures of them either. Overall, the book was okay but could have been a lot better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book of Ruth has a fitting title, it has a 'biblical', almost martyrlike heroine who is ever tolerant and forgiving,yet, the reader can feel that Ruth possesses more strength than even she is aware of. The writing style is poetic without being too flowery (hard to achieve)...and what I like most is: the book is realistic. Sometimes a hero or heroine, just survives.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading Ms. Hamilton's characters made you feel like you were belong with them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read this book within hours on vacation. i enjoyed the plot and it was well written. i highly recommend this book if you like to read a love story gone sour.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is an engrossing book, but very depressing. I thought Aunt Sid might be Ruth's salvation, but the ending of the book seems to indicate that Ruth is going to continue her mother's self defeating behavior and reject any help from Aunt Sid. This stance shows Ruth's unreality as she is completly unequipped to care for herself and two children. The book was very frustrating as Ruth often had things figured out, wanted to tell what she thought to others, but was never able to do it. For example, if Aunt Sid had known the true conditions of Ruth's household, she probably could have done something, but Ruth presented her with fantasy and only when there was tragedy did Aunt Sid learn what had been going on. I think this would be a good book for Book Club discussion.
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See_Jane_Read More than 1 year ago
Not one that I will read again, but it does make you think about the nature of people. None of these characters are completely likable or completely evil...A reminder that humanity is rarely black or white, good or evil, right or wrong, but rather many devastating shades of gray.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best first novels I have read. But be sure to do so when your spirits are high. It is too depressing for a cold winter's read.