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The Garden of Ruth

The Garden of Ruth

3.7 8
by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

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A historical novel imagines the riveting story behind the Book of Ruth

Sitting beneath a tree in ancient Bethlehem, Osnath, niece of the prophet Samuel, examines a dusty scrap of parchment she found hidden in her relative’s scroll room. Scrawled on the decaying page is an intriguing message addressed to Ruth the Moabite—great-grandmother of David,


A historical novel imagines the riveting story behind the Book of Ruth

Sitting beneath a tree in ancient Bethlehem, Osnath, niece of the prophet Samuel, examines a dusty scrap of parchment she found hidden in her relative’s scroll room. Scrawled on the decaying page is an intriguing message addressed to Ruth the Moabite—great-grandmother of David, the future king of Israel. Compelled to discover the truth about Ruth’s life, Osnath begins searching for the identity of Ruth’s nameless lover and the secret that is cloaked behind his anonymity. But as she digs deeper into the past, she finds her inquiries blocked by David’s brother Eliab. What is the long-buried truth he fears will come to light? And what is the threat that Ruth’s story poses to his family’s vast inheritance?

Eva Etzioni-Halevy’s novel deftly interweaves history and fiction to create a compelling exploration of a prominent biblical figure. Told through the voices of both Osnath and Ruth herself, The Garden of Ruth transports readers into the ancient world—and offers a dramatic and thought-provoking new perspective on a well-known tale.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Etzioni-Halevy, an Israeli sociologist and author of The Song of Hannah, returns to the ancient Middle East for an imaginative second novel riffing on the story of the biblical Ruth. (Ruth, a widowed Moabite princess, converted to Judaism, married Boaz and gave birth to the future king David but only after a mysterious man, known only as the man who was by law next in line to inherit her family property, declined to marry her.) As Etzioni-Halevy's story opens, Osnath, a head-strong and literate 15-year-old girl, discovers on a visit to Bethlehem an old piece of scroll, addressed to a woman "red-haired and fair" and written by "the man to whom you are pledged." It begs her to "abandon him, who is unworthy of you." Intrigued, Osnath proposes to Ruth's great-grandson Eliab, in whose scroll room Osnath discovered the text, that Osnath research the mystery. Eliab discourages her; she persists. After being "wickedly seduced" by Eliab, she falls in love with his brother David, who spurns her. Osnath then reluctantly returns to Eliab, who promises to unravel the "web of lies... as sweet as honey" that surrounds Ruth's life but at a price. The mystery is intriguing, and Etzioni-Halevy depicts ancient women chafing at limited choices with verve. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Etzioni-Halevy (Emeritus, Political Sociology/Bar-Ilan Univ., Israel; The Song of Hannah, 2005) offers a beautifully sensitive, lustily feminist romance inspired by the Book of Ruth. The author frames her story of Ruth the Moabite several generations after the flame-haired widow married Boaz and lived with him in Bethlehem, embracing his Jewish religion. As the story opens, 15-year-old maiden Osnath, from Ramah, has come to spend time with her relatives, the clan of Jesse, in Bethlehem, at the prodding of her wise Uncle Samuel, who believes she can uncover the true story of great-grandmother Ruth. Able to read, Osnath tries to penetrate the scroll room guarded by Jesse's eldest son, Eliab, but he seduces her-compliant Osnath isn't sure she wants to fend him off. Her interest in reading Ruth's story only increases, however, when Osnath gleans from the scrolls that Ruth had an unnamed lover before she remarried Boaz-yet everyone insists on blocking her queries. Moreover, Osnath herself is not-so-secretly sleeping with Eliab's honey-tongued youngest brother, David, the shepherd who is soon anointed successor to King Saul and bequeathed in marriage to a princess, thus scorning poor Osnath. In tedious circuitry, Osnath ends up marrying her former nemesis, Eliab, perhaps only to get her hands at last on Ruth's story-although the sex is definitely hot, too. Thus Part Two shifts to Ruth's perspective as she recounts her famous tale of migration with her mother-in-law back to Naomi's home in Bethlehem, then meets the stolid provider Boaz-though first there is the delicate matter of a secret lover. The stories of Osnath and Ruth fulfilling their sexual identity nicely parallel each other. A brazenrendering of the biblical material breathes fire into a ripping good saga. Agent: Judith Riven/Judith Riven Literary Agent

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Penguin Publishing Group
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Penguin Group
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566 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Eva Etzioni-Halevy is a professor emeritus of political sociology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She is the author of The Song of Hannah.

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Garden of Ruth 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this installment from Eva! SHe has outdone herself. If you liked Song of Hannah, Red Tent, Shadow of the Ark and Ziporah, Wife of Moses,then this is the book for you to read next. Five stars and two thumbs up. Also, if you write to this author, she actually writes you back and is really nice! :O)-stacey
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Ramah, Uncle Samuel the prophet sends his intelligent fifteen year old niece Osnath to Bethlehem to uncover the truth inside of the sweetly wrapped tale of the lass¿ ancestor Ruth the Moabite, who married Boaz after another male in-law rejected her. Samuel specifically wants her to name the unnamed man who refused to wed Ruth.-------------- Osnath stays with her relatives of the clan of Jesse where he wants her to read the documents in the scroll room to uncover the identity of the anonymous lover. However, everyone in the clan of Jesse wants her to drop her research especially Jesse's oldest son, Eliab diligently guards the scroll room from her. He tries to distract the teen through seduction, even while she sleeps with his charming youngest brother David the shepherd.------------ Part One follows Osnath ¿In the Footsteps of Ruth¿ while Part Two focuses on the ¿Tale of Ruth¿ from the first hand perspective of Ruth. Readers will enjoy both sections that enable the comparison of the biblical legendary Ruth and her generation to that of her great-grandchildren as well as a fresh look at her saga. THE GARDEN OF RUTH is a delightful explicit look at the plight of women in ancient times.----------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GabinaFS More than 1 year ago
The Garden of Ruth By Eva Etzioni Halevy The Garden of Ruth is a novel about a young girl named Osnath who is torn between her need to find out and uncover the mystery and details behind the woman the in the Bible's Book of Ruth. Osnath is the granddaughter of Pninah and has decided to make it her life's journey and goal to learn more about Ruth. Beautiful, clever, persistent and educated a really strong combination for a woman of her time. Osnath, a scribe, like her grandmother, Pninah visits Bethlehem with her grandmother and uncle, the prophet Samuel and finds herself torn between two men. Wanting to visit the scroll room of this house she was visiting, she comes across a piece of parchment. As she continues to explore her relatives scroll room, she learns that the parchment was addressed to Ruth the Moabite, who was the great-grandmother of the man she fell in love with, the next king of Israel, David. As Osnath begins to learn more about Ruth and wants to delve into her life and her secret past, her efforts are waylaid and thwarted by David's older brother, Eliab. Eliab intimates that Ruth' s past is secret and too shocking to reveal. Osnath is in love with David. David is a smooth talker and convinces her that he will marry her in due time. However, upon being anointed the next King of Israel he meets with King Saul and any hope of Osnath becoming his wife is lost as he is to marry King Saul's daughter. David and Eliab, two brothers who would not want Ruth's past uncovered for fear of losing their inheritance. Although, Osnath wants to uncover the reasons why they want her life to kept a secret, there is a second story or plot that comes into play. Osnath is in love with both David and Eliab. She feels connected to Ruth, and they share the same joys, sorrows and heartaches. When reading this book you learn of Ruth's first born not living and many other areas where she and Osnath's live appear to mirror each other's. When there is information to be had or a mystery to be solved I will delve into the subject or persist in finding out what I need to in order to solve the problem or find out what I need to for my research or for anything else. Osnath is a persistent young and intelligent girl who has an advantage over many other girls her age. She can read and write and understands the importance of having the skill. I love the fact that she does not back down and has managed to get Eliab to give her the information about Ruth in order to learn more about her past. If Ruth could speak she would tell you how she met the man called The Unnamed and how she developed a relationship with him. The piece of the missive that she found had his name on it and information leading to the fact he and Ruth were close. But, it would not be until her husband died of a serious illness and she met him in the market. Ruth Speaks: "Today the Unnamed from Bethlehem comes to me It was from the gods It was marvelous in my eyes. Just what this means and how they come together you need to read this for yourself. "I met with him many times. I went to his house. We stayed in the bedchamber and my need for love was aroused. The only regret that I have is that these months of encounters with him flew by so fast. Disclosing our lives to each other. I told him about my father and my childhood. He told me about how his brothers made him fend for himself and they did not afford him their protection. But, then the unthinkable happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not only was this book poorly written but it poorly portrayed the incredible story of Ruth as well. The author's own bitter feelings seeped into the story and completely destroyed a classic work of literature. For some reason the author believes that a person cannot deny their sexual desires so she inaccurately assumed that Ruth and David (in his youth; obviously he couldn't deny himself later on as an adult with Bathsheba) couldn't either. If you want impurity in the Bible write about the hundreds of other sinners in it. Don't contaminate one of the only pure women in the Bible. If Ruth had screwed up and been immoral, the Bible would've mentioned it. It mentioned practically every other screw up after all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down! It is an extraordinarily told historical fiction about the life of Ruth. I was living the lives of both women in the story, Osnath and Ruth. This is the first one I have read by Eva and I am looking forward to reading her other ones.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was just captivating.It was Romantic and very sensual.It's worth the read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
South Carolina septuagenarian Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins sits by the side of rural Highway 17 as she has for decades making sweetgrass love baskets. The weaver insists to those who worry about her that she is not alone as husband Daddy Jim sits by her side though he died years ago. Essie Mae believes her 'love baskets' helps those who buy them from her roadside stand though she takes no chances as she adds prayers for those in need just as her beloved Auntie Leona taught her decades ago.-------------------------- Now her loved ones want to place the seventy-eight year old weaver into a home. Daddy Jim tells her to join him in Heaven where Jesus awaits her coming. She does, but besides her beloved spouse and the Sonof God, she meets her recently deceased African-American relatives and ancestors from Africa making her feel complete and at home. However, back on earth her descendents are in trouble needing Essie Mae to return to give them the strength to come together.----------------------- This deep character study will provide inspiration to readers as Essie Mae deals with mortality, deaths of loved ones, sacrifice, the radical changing of her world, and coming to heaven. She keeps the story line flowing on earth and in heaven as fans will be fascinated with how the sweetgrass basket weaver puts love into her work. Though local dialect adds a sense of locale and to a degree purpose, it also adds some difficulty to the read. Still this is a magnificent profound look at a person who has an inner strength few contain.---------------- Harriet Klausner