Two women. All alone. With no provision…Can they find hope in a foreign land?
Ruth leaves her home with a barren womb and an empty future after losing her husband. She forsakes her abusive parents and follows the woman she has grown to love as a true parent, her late husband's mother, Naomi.
Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi's love. She is destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God.
But God has great plans for her.
While everyone considers Ruth an unworthy outsider, she is shocked to find the owner of the field—one of the wealthiest and most honored men of Judah—is showing her favor. Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz finds himself irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the dark, haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his cousin Naomi's chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.
Obstacles. Heartache. Withered dreams. How can God forge love, passion, and new hope between two such different people?
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
TESSA AFSHAR was voted "New Author of the Year" by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader's Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran, lived there for the first fourteen years of her life, and attended an English boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last twelve years in full- and part-time Christian work.
Read an Excerpt
In the Field of Grace
By Tessa Afshar, Pam Pugh
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2014 Tessa Afshar
All rights reserved.
FIVE YEARS LATER
* * *
To whom do you belong? And where are you from? 1 SAMUEL 30:13
Everyone in the city of Kir-hareseth seemed to have descended upon the marketplace, making final purchases before the stalls closed down. Crowds. Why couldn't they just stay home? Ruth tried to ignore the jostle of too many bodies. Dragging a perspiring hand down her worn tunic, she took a deep breath to steady her jangled nerves; the scent of sweat covered thinly by oily perfumes hit her with the force of a blow.
Ruth's mother had sent her to buy dates. She eyed the mounds of brown sticky fruit in a stall, trying to calculate how to get the best price so she could avoid one of her mother's blistering set downs. Bending forward, she picked one and examined it with intensity. It looked like a date to Ruth, which exhausted the breadth of her knowledge on the topic. About to open her mouth to ask for the price, she was surprised when a gentle hand caressed her arm.
"You can find better," a soft voice whispered in her ear. Startled, Ruth turned to find the source of the advice. The woman was in her middle years, with smooth skin and thick grey hair that peeked from beneath her ivory headdress. Her faded blue tunic appeared clean, the only good thing that could be said for it. The leather of her sandals, visible beneath her ankle-length tunic, showed signs of long wear.
Brown eyes sparkled at her. "What a lovely young woman. May the Lord bless you, child."
Compliments and Ruth did not go together. Certainly, no one had ever called her lovely. Her eldest sister was the acknowledged beauty of the family. Ruth was the last born and the Great Disappointment. The last chance at her parents' hope for a son, unfulfilled.
Too tall. Too quiet. Too female.
"Pardon?" she said, fumbling with the empty cloth bag she held, trying unsuccessfully to swallow.
"Forgive me. My sons tell me I am too free with my tongue. But you are such a pretty creature, I had to tell you."
Ruth gaped at her like one of the cows of Bashan.
The stranger flashed a wide smile, displaying a full set of startlingly white teeth. "I've embarrassed you. I'm sorry. We are more forthright with our thoughts in Israel. I've never lost the habit."
That explained the odd lilting accent. And the strange blessing she had given Ruth. What had she said? The Lord. Not Chemosh, but the Lord bless you. "You are an Israelite," Ruth said, forcing her tongue around the words.
"Yes. My sons and I have lived here for some years. We came when Bethlehem went through a famine and we feared we might starve. My husband was with us then, but he died of a wasting disease some years ago."
"That must have been hard to bear," Ruth said. "Having to raise your sons alone and in a foreign land."
"Hardest thing I've ever done. But the Lord has seen us through."
Ruth, who knew nothing about this Lord other than a vague recollection that He was the deity worshiped in Israel, gave a short nod.
"I am Naomi. Naomi of Bethlehem, in Judah. And you, my sweet girl? What do they call you?"
"Ruth." Naomi nodded. "I like it. Have you brothers and sisters?"
"Four sisters, all older."
Naomi raised her brows and made a gentle humming sound in her throat. An odd silence settled over them; Ruth felt the crowds receding from her senses, their incessant sounds and smells muted. She had a strange notion that the woman had gazed into her life and seen it, known its pains and sorrows, just from that one sentence. As if Naomi knew that four older sisters meant Ruth had grown up invisible. Unwanted. Never quite managing to please anybody.
Yet she had uttered no words. Just that gentle humming in her throat.
As if coming to a sudden decision, Naomi said, "You must come to my home and share supper with us. My sons will be delighted to meet you."
Ruth's jaw dropped open. "I ... thank you. But I must buy dates. For my mother."
"Ah. Try that stall over there. Mesha is almost an honest man. And his fruit is fresh. Don't let him pick for you, though. Insist on picking the ones you want. He'll grumble, but pay no mind. Your mother will be happy with what you bring home."
You don't know my mother.
"That's kind of you. Thank you, Naomi."
Before Ruth settled on a price with the vender Naomi had recommended, the woman herself showed up again, stationing herself at Ruth's side. "Come, Mesha. What kind of price is that for a daughter of Moab? You can do better."
Mesha complied by lowering his price a fraction. Ruth, who had no talent for haggling, gave the Israelite woman a grateful smile. "For once I'm returning from the market with a decent purchase. Not only do I thank you, my whole family thanks you."
Naomi laughed. Ruth liked the sound of it, clear and pleasing, without drawing needless attention. She could imagine the hardships of the woman's life. And yet Naomi had not lost her ability to find joy in small things.
"Will you come and visit me after you deliver the dates to your mother? It's only my sons and me, and our house is simple. But you would be most welcome. I'll give you supper and afterward walk you home so you won't have to worry about finding your way in the dark."
Ruth felt her skin turn warm as blood rushed to her cheeks. "I would like to."
Naomi patted her hand and told her how to find her house.
Before delivering the dates to her mother, Ruth hid two of the plumpest in her sash. For once, her mother had no sour comments when she examined her daughter's purchase. It never occurred to Ruth to expect praise for her success. Praise and her mother were not frequent companions. Not when it came to the woman's fifth daughter.
"Where is Grandfather?" Ruth asked.
"Where else? Slumbering on his mat as usual, expecting everyone to take care of his lordship."
Ruth flushed at her mother's bitter complaint. The only true kindness Ruth had received growing up was at the hand of her grandfather. Though everyone else in her family had found her wanting, her father's father acted as though Ruth were the most precious member of his brood.
In fond remembrance, Ruth fingered the luxurious linen sash tied at her waist. The old man had bought it for her years ago, after Ruth's sisters had teased her more mercilessly than usual. Unable to bear their mean words another moment, she had run into the field behind their house and hidden through the night, shedding her tears in private. No one had bothered to try to find her. Except Grandfather.
Late the following morning he had come upon her, crouching in order to see into her eyes. "There you are. I've been looking everywhere for you."
"I was here."
"So I see."
"Is Mother very angry?"
"No more than usual, shall we say? So long as you finish your chores, I believe she will grow calm. Now, I have a present for you."
"Yes, indeed. Because you are my adorable granddaughter and I am proud of you." He proffered the most exquisite sash Ruth had ever seen. It had white and dark blue stripes, with lighter blue flowers embroidered through the edges.
She gasped. "This must have cost a fortune."
The old man smiled. "It did. And you are worth it."
Ruth let the memory fade, blinking back tears.
The grandfather she held dear had disappeared in the past few years. His mind had grown dim with time. Often he didn't seem to recognize any of them. He had grown tangled in a shadow world, isolated, unable to grasp the ordinary things of life. He was with them and yet lost to them.
Ruth knelt by his mat and caressed his shoulder with a light hand. His eyes opened, faded and unfocused.
"I have a present for you, Grandfather." Ruth handed him one of the dates, trying to keep the exchange hidden from the rest of the room with her slim body.
The withered man stared at the date in the palm of his hand, his expression blank. "Put it in your mouth," Ruth encouraged. "It's sweet." She moved his hand toward his mouth, and obediently he took a bite.
He made a small sound of appreciation. "I told you you would like it," she whispered. "Don't let Mother catch you, or there will be great gnashing of teeth."
A smile broke on the old man's face and for a moment he looked like his old self, understanding and humor twinkling in the filmy eyes. Sometimes lucidity broke over him like the summer rains, sudden and inexplicable, and he became again the man she loved and missed like part of her own heart. But those moments were growing rarer with each passing day.
"Oh Grandfather." Ruth gave him a hard embrace; by the time she moved away, the empty look had taken the place of the momentary clarity. Ruth's shoulders slumped. Gently, she fed him the last date before leaving his side.
Her mother made no demur when Ruth spoke of her intention to visit Naomi. In truth, no one cared much if Ruth remained in the house or left it for hours, so long as she fulfilled her endless list of duties.
Ruth enjoyed the walk to Naomi's house. The streets were empty save for a few children lingering late to play one last game before being called home. It was her favorite time of day, just before twilight when the world became more still, when the intense bustle of the day drew to a close and the noise of the rushing crowds ceased.
The sycamore door to Naomi's house stood open, revealing one narrow room, the only chamber that the house boasted. The high lattice windows had been thrown open, allowing the pale, dying rays of the sun into the chamber, giving the place a cheery look. A few handwoven mats covered most of the bare, earthen floor, and two cushions with faded weaving sat against the far wall. A cluttered cleanliness marked the small space.
Ruth felt an odd peace as Naomi welcomed her inside. She could not explain it. But here, in this stranger's home, she felt more settled than she ever had in the house where she had spent her whole life.
Naomi took her hand and drew her farther into the chamber. "Aren't you tall? I have to tip my head back to look into your eyes."
Ruth bit her lip and lowered her face. Her height had been a source of unrelenting shame since she had turned ten and, without warning, grown into a pole. She managed to be taller than everyone in her family, even her father. Her sisters tormented her with names like tree trunk and rooftop.
Naomi gasped. "Oh my dear, I meant it as praise. You are like a willow, soft and full of grace. In Israel, tall women are much admired."
Then I should have been born in Israel. But she swallowed the words.
"Sit down here, dear Ruth. The cushions have gone flat, I'm afraid."
Ruth sat, tucking her feet up to the side of her hip, arranging her loose tunic to cover her toes. "They are very comfortable."
"My sons aren't home from the field yet. They leave early and return late. Poor lads. Their work is hard. We'll eat when they come. Do you like lentils?"
"My favorite," Ruth said, as if she didn't have to eat them every day. "May I help you with the bread?" Before Naomi could respond, she rose to go to her. Naomi was making cakes of dough with ground barley flour, and after rinsing her hands with water, Ruth took a large handful to knead.
"Such light flour," she said, allowing admiration to color her voice. She knew the effort it took to grind the barley grain into a fine powder. With Naomi the sole female occupant of her house, she could not share the burden of grinding with another woman, which would allow her to use a larger, more efficient hand mill.
Naomi smiled. "I fear I'm vain when it comes to my cooking. So if you want to win my heart, you've started on the right foot."
Another compliment? Ruth was losing count of them. She looked down and kneaded harder.
"The stone is hot. As soon as Mahlon and Chilion return home, we will bake the bread, so we can have hot barley cakes with our soup. Won't they be surprised to see you?"
Ruth gave Naomi a sharp look from under her lashes. "So you don't bring the daughters of Moab to supper every day?"
The older woman dissolved into peals of laughter. She wiped a hand against her cheek, leaving a white trail. "Not every day, no. But a woman with two unmarried young sons can't sit about doing nothing. The boys toil in the fields of their master most of the day long. What chance have they of meeting eligible young women?"
Eligible young women? Unmarried sons? What had she entangled herself in? Ruth swallowed a deep breath and pointed to Naomi's face. "You have flour smudged on your cheek."
Naomi lifted a cloth to wipe away the smudge of flour.
"I don't think this will work." Ruth tried to keep the panic out of her voice. The thought of meeting two strange men for the express purpose of being weighed as a possible bride turned her stomach into a big knot. They would only reject her. "Perhaps I should go home." She started to wipe her hands on the cloth next to her when the sound of conversation made her freeze mid-swipe. She frowned as she heard a feminine voice, softly responding to a man's comment.
The older woman spun toward the open door, her hands fluttering in the air.
"Mother, we have brought you a guest," said the shorter of the two young men. "This is Orpah. We met her at the field and asked her to supper. She ... She ..." His voice trailed as he spotted Ruth.
Naomi broke the tension by bursting into peals of laughter. "The Lord be praised. I have also asked my friend Ruth to supper. What a blessed night, to have two new friends join us."
Ruth gulped. It would be offensive to leave now. She would have to stay and see the evening through. At least the other girl, Orpah, would share the burden of attention. She was a pretty girl, no older than seventeen, with rounded cheeks and thick, long black lashes.
They sat on the floor around a well-used mat to eat supper. When Naomi introduced her sons, Ruth did not even lift her chin far enough to see which name belonged to whom. She busied herself with dipping her warm bread into the bowl of aromatic lentils and listened carefully to the conversation flowing around her.
Her attention strayed to Orpah as the girl fanned her face. "I can't abide the heat. This afternoon, I thought my head would bake in my headdress and drop right into the field. That would have been a mess. Knowing the foreman, he would have made me clean it up myself."
Ruth laughed, her outstretched hand forgotten where she had moved to dip her bread into the olive oil. To her surprise, her fingers bumped into solid flesh. She raised startled eyes and collided with a warm brown gaze.CHAPTER 2
A friend loves at all times. PROVERBS 17:17
His skin shone pale as bleached ivory against his dark beard. It was his smile that first caught Ruth's attention. His mouth, too wide for beauty, softened his otherwise ordinary face into the sort of friendliness that made her feel welcomed to the soles of her feet. As if she had known him for years. And she could not even tell his name! Mahlon or Chilion?
Guessing her thoughts, he said, "Mahlon."
With a sudden jolt, she found herself wanting to giggle. "I was going to guess Chilion," she confessed.
"I forgive you. Which is generous of me, considering when we were introduced, you disdained to look upon me even once."
"I thought it polite not to stare."
"Don't worry. I did enough staring for us both."
Ruth felt the rhythm of her pulse speed, making her breathless. "I don't think your mother has the measure of you."
The wide mouth flashed another winsome smile. "How so?"
Ruth nibbled on her lower lip, caught between laughter and embarrassment. "She believes you are helpless and lonesome. I think you know your way around many a Moabite maiden's heart."
He shook his head, looking tragic. "I hardly know any Moabite maidens."
"Counting you and Orpah? Two."
Chilion, overhearing his brother, shoved a shoulder into his brother's arm. "Not for lack of trying."
* * *
Naomi and Mahlon walked Ruth most of the way home. They finally turned back when she pressed them, just before she arrived at her house. As the outdoor enclosure of her home came into view, Ruth could hear the screech of her mother's raised voice. Frowning, she picked up her steps. Though her mother's temper bore a legendary sting, it rarely grew so noisy as to rouse the interest of the neighbors.
She shoved open the door, which someone had had the forethought to close. A wave of nausea pressed in on her as the scene inside unfolded.
Excerpted from In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar, Pam Pugh. Copyright © 2014 Tessa Afshar. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
I loved this book! It's a terrific retelling of one of my favorite stories from the Bible: the story of Ruth. Tessa Afshar is a terrific writer and brings this Bible story wonderfully to life. I highly recommend! : )
Now I’m twice in love with the story of Ruth and Boaz! I felt as though I had made friends and then had to say good bye at the last page. Tessa has artistically and accurately woven prophetic truths of the coming Messiah in the novel, giving us a peek into King David’s life. . .and beyond. Beautifully written. It’s a must read!
What a wonderful novel bringing more depth to the Biblical book of Ruth! I just love Tessa Afshar’s novels and this one is simply fabulous! She brings humor and sweetness, understanding and life to the story and just makes me look forward to reading her next novel.
This book was amazing. Absolutely amazing. The message that is woven into this book, that God’s grace is sufficient through all times, good and bad, is powerful and incredible. It is just what I needed to read. Ms. Afshar is superbly talented and knew just what this reader need to read. Boaz and Ruth, along with Naomi, are created perfectly. I felt like I had taken a trip right to the heart of the Bible and followed their story. Both suffered tragedies beyond compare, both seeking happiness, both reaching out to each other. The way they were portrayed, the way they interacted and fell in love, made me fall in love with the whole story. It was perfect! Ms. Afshar’s book is high on my recommendations list. From start to finish, I was lost in the pages of this book, and I had it done in less than a day. It was that good. This book is powerful and worth so much more than simple 5 stars. It is worthy of 5 million stars. When it comes to Biblical fiction this is the kind of book I seek and I am so incredibly pleased to have read it. *I received a complimentary copy of this book and was under no obligation to post a review, positive or negative.*
“Without wealth or family, the widow Ruth left her people and followed Naomi, her beloved Hebrew mother-in-law, to rebuild Naomi's home in Israel. Provisions gone and starvation at the door, Ruth used all that she has left-a strong back and a willing heart-to gather grain in a field, abandoned after the harvest.” Ruth is the youngest daughter in her family and is not favored like her sisters. One day while shopping for her mother, Naomi approaches her and they become friends. Naomi is a widow with 2 grown sons. She invited Ruth over and introduces her to her sons. Mahlon and Ruth get married and after several years they have not had children. Mahlon and his brother get sick and pass away. Naomi is left alone with her 2 daughter-in-laws and decides she wants to go home. She tries to convince her daughter-in-laws to return to their families, but Ruth refuses. She travels with Naomi to Israel. When they get to Israel they have no money and very little food. Ruth goes to glean from the fields that are being harvested. She ends up in Boaz's field. Boaz is a relative of Naomi's husband and takes favor upon Ruth. He feeds her while she is working and tells his workers to leaves extra grain for her to pick up. When the harvest season is coming to an end, Naomi convinces Ruth to dress up and go to where Boaz is. When he goes to sleep Ruth is to sleep at his feet. If Boaz responds as Naomi suspects, Ruth and Boaz will marry. If they marry, their first child will be considered Mahlon's child, Naomi's grandchild. In the Field of Grace written by Tessa Afshar is a Biblical Historical Fiction based on the Bible accounting of Ruth and Naomi. When reading the story in the Bible I do not think of the conditions of the time and this story brings that to life. It is written so well, it feels like you are there in the field with Ruth. The writing is so realistic it is easy to feel the heat they must have worked in and the pain of the long days work. It is very easy to see how the Israelite could accept Ruth, with her loving and caring personality. It is fun to read a story that tells us how people like Naomi and Ruth were able to care for themselves. The little things that a farmer could do, that would benefit those in need so much. I like that the author has given us some incite into Ruth and Boaz's past as well as a look into their decedents. If you like Biblical Fiction, you will love this story. I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishing and I have written an honest review.
The Field Of Grace by Tessa Afshar I have always enjoyed the story of Ruth, when she tells Naomi, "In treat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou longest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." How many daughter-in-laws would do that for their mother-in-law. This is my first book by Tessa Afshar. I was not disappointed. I like her writing style, smooth, easy flowing. Her characters were memorable. Pick up a copy and walk in Ruth's shoes and learn what she learned. If God be for you, who can be against you? Good Reading!!!
One of the best books that I have read in a long time. The story of Ruth is one of my favorites from the bible and I love how this author was able to portray such a fascinating story into a full-blown novel. She was an amazing woman and this book will have you happy, sad, worried and every other emotion imaginable. I love how Ruth was able to come to pure faith and happiness from nothing. She found and lost love, but was able to carry on with more faith in a God that she didn't grow up worshiping. She shows us that despite the bad things going on in our lives, God is there in so many ways if we just listen. The love story between Ruth and Boaz is unlike anything you'll ever read. It is true, heartfelt love that goes above and beyond. Both of them have been through so much, but despite all things they were brought together. They both have great faith in the Lord. Their faithfulness to him is humbling and makes me personally want to do better. Their strength and their ability to give everything to the Lord is just amazing. I know that this is a bible story, but the way that it reads it is more of romantic love story between the main characters and God. The childbirth of Obed was a very stressful chapter for me! I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen, was she gonna live or die like Judith????? (Boaz's first wife) (Not a spoiler! I promise its in the prologue). Then once that amazing story was over, it continues with an intriguing epilogue that really wraps up the whole story. It is fascinating to see how some of the main people in the bible are related to each other! Definitely a book worth reading! Loved it from start to finish! Great opener and a great way to finish!! :) :) :)
This is the third Tessa Afshar novel I have read, and they just keep getting better and better! If you like grocery store novels, these Bible-based stories are not for you. But if you like a good read, there is action, conflict, romance, and a window to how characters from the scriptures lived their lives. I'm eagerly waiting to read additional works from this author!
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!!
If you have read some of the stories of the Bible, you get a broad sense of what happened. But like so many times we are missing some of the finer points, the motivations and those are found in the details. My newest favorite genre this year is Biblical Fiction. Taking a story we all know and love straight from the Bible and enhancing the details of 'what could of been!' It is never meant to take the place of those beloved stories but simply a way I believe to draw you deeper. To bring you right in the forefront of the action and make you believe you are there actually witnessing the events. This is my second novel from author Tessa Afshar, and with it comes the retelling of the story of Ruth. If you are familiar with the story than you know that Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, decides to return to Israel after losing both of her sons. But before deciding to uproot Ruth from her own family roots, she relives her of any burden to stay with her along her to journey back to her home. Ruth vows that no matter what happens in life, she will always stay by Naomi side and so begins their adventure to Naomi's home. We learn that the harvest has been plentiful and even gleaners, are having success with picking up enough left over grain that they will not go hungry. Ruth decides to venture out to take care of their needs and finds her way into the fields of Boaz. She first has to learn how to glean and being a Moabite woman, she is considered an outcast in town. With no one to help her, she decides to linger behind and take the leftovers if she can find them. But soon she garners the attention of Boaz, the owner of the field, who is smitten with her looks as well as her quiet presence. When he learns she is the daughter of Naomi, his cousin, he realizes he must offer to help but not in the way to embarrass her. He warns his men to offer her protection while working in his fields and to ensure that each day, she takes home more than enough to feed them both. While they are both learning lessons along the way, dealing with grief, accepting God's will in both of their lives, and slowly falling in love along the way, we can see the same example being laid out before each of us. How God so lovingly romances all of us and shows us in innumerable ways just how much He loves us. I love the part of the novel where Boaz it trying to describe what the world is like to an unborn baby and he gets a lesson from God in the process in dealing with the grief and loss Boaz feels when he loses his wife Judith and their unborn child. "Then the Lord asked me, 'Do you think he understands? Do you think he knows what your world is like now?' "No, Lord,' I replied, 'How could he? He only knows his mother's womb. His world is too small. I could use every word the world has to offer and he would still not perceive our world. He has to be in it to understand it.' "'No more can you understand My kingdom,' He said to me. 'No more can you perceive where your wife and daughter and newborn son reside now. Yet that world is no less real than your own.'" (pg 124). I received In the Fields of Grace by Tessa Afshar compliments of River North Publishing and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own unless otherwise notated. This is such a beautiful love story not only between Ruth and Boaz but also between God and us.. There are just so many wonderful take aways from this novel I simply can't list them all. For those that have experienced loss and are looking for answers, I would encourage you to check out this novel and then follow it up with the story of Ruth from the Bible. It simply is breath-taking and full of life in many ways. I easily rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars and can't wait to go back and pick up the other novels Tessa has written that I haven't been blessed to enjoy yet.
I just finished her book. It is a Biblical/historical fiction book based on Ruth & Boaz. I absolutely LOVE her books!!! She has a remarkable way of taking these characters (like Ruth or Rahab) and bringing them to life. She has a spectacular way of writing that makes the reader really think about God's personal Word for each of us and see His provision and love for us in new ways. Yes, it's fiction, but it seems plausible and very realistic. She weaves the stories to include little details that surprise the reader a little bit and definitely leave you wanting more of the story. Check out ALL of her books!!!
In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar is brilliant. An enticing blend of biblical history and spectacular imagery make the familiar story of the book of Ruth come alive. While this story is a well known story, Afshar brings in her unique perspective and practical wisdom to weave a story that will resonate with you long after you have read the final page. These things combine to make this a must read for Christian women. In reading this story, you, the reader come away with a better understanding of life. Life doesn't always turn out the way you plan for, but God wants us to trust Him enough to leave things in His hands. This wasn't an easy lesson for Ruth, Naomi or Boaz to learn. Yet we see that they did surrender things to God and He did some amazing things. As Naomi told Ruth, "You want what you want, not what He is willing to give. It's an awkward spot. In my experience, He usually wins. Try to remember, daughter, time does not work the same in the hands of the Lord as it would in ours. Sometimes, out of the delays of life, He calls forth a blessing." We see the blessings God bestowed on Ruth, Naomi and Boaz. It is much harder to hang on in our own lives, but a book like this helps me to hang on and believe that God knows what He is doing in my life. My thanks go out to Moody Publishers and Netgalley for providing me with a free ebook to read and review. I also want to thank Ms. Afshar for her gift in writing biblical fiction. I know that I will learn something about myself through her books and I eagerly await her next book.
I am a HUGE fan of Tessa Afshar's - I preordered this book the day I heard about it (many long months ago). And I was not disappointed! The story of Ruth is one I've heard told, and retold, and retold by everyone from pastors to secular authors. And, not surprisingly, this was my very favorite version. The characters were all richly drawn and well-developed, not only the main ones we all know like Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz (although how the author was able to bring so much depth to characters we think we know so well was truly astonishing), but even the secondary characters who helped fill in the story were marvelously done. The author also managed to make a plot that, again, we all think we know so well, new and engaging. Possibly the thing I admire most about Ms. Afshar's writing is her ability to seamlessly weave spiritual truths into her story, and this book is no different. I've read several authors who do indeed put valuable lessons in their books, but none manage to do it so flawlessly and beautifully. I never feel preached at, or like she has to maneuver the dialogue in order to fit some Scripture verse or life-changing moment for the characters, or like it's the same "revelations" I've read in most other Christian fiction. It all flows so well, and often I've found those things she shares utterly "new" (for me at least!), profound, and life-changing. Really. This is one of the only fiction books that I not only thoroughly enjoyed reading but feel like I've truly gained something from. I put it down and wanted to follow Jesus more closely. There was even a moment in the book where I had to stop reading because I just wanted to spend time with the Lord. I don't think that's ever happened to me before! Fiction that is entertaining and encouraging - you cannot ask for a better read than this!
Tessa Afshar credits her conversion to Christianity in her 20s for changing the course of her life forever. But her conversion has also enhanced the lives of others, blessing them through her writing and helping them gain a better understanding of life in Bible times. Let me be clear: In The Field of Grace is a fictionalized retelling of the story of Ruth and Boaz. Reading it is not a substitute for reading the actual Book of Ruth in the Bible. However, it is a wonderful aid to read along with it. Doing so gave me a clearer picture of what life might have been like in that era and the special challenges faced by Ruth, Boaz, Naomi, Dinah, and others. I thoroughly enjoyed In the Field of Grace, as I have enjoyed all of Tessa Afshar's other works. I enthusiastically recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and Christian literature.
I really liked In the Field of Grace. It is a beautiful retelling of Ruth and Boaz. Such a sweet sweet love story. I loved how Tessa Afshar imagined the Biblical story. Highly recommended. 5 stars
Amazing new book from Tessa Afshar! In the Field of Grace is the newest book by Tessa Afshar. I am a huge fan of hers, since discovering her books last year, so I was very excited when I first heard about this book and have been anticipating its release for months. There are so many things I want to say about it, but I will try to limit them so this review doesn’t end up rivaling the novel in length. First off, I loved it! This is fictional telling of the story of Boaz and Ruth from the Bible, and while I know a lot of it is solely a product of the author’s imagination, it seemed so real. The depth of research that obviously went into it astounds me. I could tell from the very beginning that Ms. Afshar worked very hard to make it as accurate as possible, while also finding the balance of adding depth and details that brought everything to life. A few times, when I managed to put down the book, I had to remind myself when and where I was. The story drew me in that much. The characters, the descriptions, the historical details, the scripture that was chosen for the beginning of each chapter, all of it flowed together seamlessly into an amazing novel. Ruth is obviously one of the protagonists in this book and as soon as I’m done here, I’m going to go read the book of Ruth again, because now I am fascinated and see her story in a different light. I’m actually not sure what to say about her. She is so strong, caring, loving, faithful, and a dozen other adjectives. I fell in love with her from the first. She comes to life on the pages and Tessa makes her feel so genuine. She has spent the formative years of her life feeling as though she is unloved and a burden, so when faced with love from Naomi and her God, she struggled to believe that He would want someone like her (a Moabite). I loved following her journey, because as the book progresses, we see her grow and change. She learns about the Lord mostly from Naomi and Boaz, but also begins to understand truths about Him on her own. Throughout the book we see small changes in her as she discovers new things about Him.Boaz was wonderfully realistic, too. He is a bit of an anomaly in the world of fiction, I think. Maybe because he is so raw and we see so many sides of him. He is strong, yet gentle. Kind and caring, but also firm and a bit cunning when need be. He, like Ruth, has a strong faith which grows and changes throughout the story. I loved getting to know them both, since I never really put a lot of thought into either of them - what they must have been like, who they were aside from what little we know about them, what they faced, etc. I’m not sure I will ever be able to read the book of Ruth again without thinking of them as they are portrayed in this novel. I always love the faith Tessa weaves into her stories. Obviously, they are fictional retellings of Biblical characters and faith being a big part is pretty much a must, but she includes it with a finesse that challenges and strengthens my own faith. I can’t really pick out one specific spiritual truth this book focuses on, because there are several. From the analogy of the lamb, to the olive trees, to Ruth learning to accept whatever God brings her way with joy, to Boaz learning surrender, every part of it touched me. Tessa has a way of sharing each part that makes it applicable and real to those that read her books (at least, I hope it’s not just me). Another thing I really enjoyed about this book is Ruth and Boaz’s relationship. It doesn’t move quickly and starts out more as a friendship than anything else, which I enjoyed. There is, of course, the requisite misunderstanding between them, which fortunately only lasts a chapter or two, and leads into one of my favorite scenes in the whole book. If you’ve ever read the book of Ruth, then you know that she is very bold and goes to him on the threshing floor while he is sleeping and lies down at his feet. I love what he says to her here. He reminds her that she is so very precious to God and that the trials she has faced do not detract from that fact. He shows her she is loved, not for anything she has done or will do, but just because she is. I honestly only have one complaint about this book and that is that epilogue was a little long and didn’t make very much sense, until I read the author’s notes afterward. Then I was able to appreciate what she intended it for. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys wonderful historical fiction that brings the Bible, and the people in it, to life (but it is no way intended to replace actually reading the Bible)! I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
The story of Ruth and Boaz like you've never seen it before! "In the Field of Grace" by Tessa Afshar is a retelling of the Biblical account of Ruth and Boaz. The story begins before the Biblical account creating a depth to the characters and giving the story further meaning. Ruth has always been a favorite book of the Bible for me as it tells the story of a young widow leaving everything she knows to follow a God whom she doesn't know and her mother-in-law into a land that hates her for her heritage. This retelling is wonderfully done, making me love the story even more! Boaz is a middle aged man who life has dealt a bad hand. At the beginning of this story, he loses his first wife Judith and their newborn son during child-birth. In the ten years since, he has learned to accept his lot in life and follows God's will to the best he can. His land is fruitful and in Bethlehem he is a rich man. He is kind to his servants and those less fortunate than him. He is in one word humble. Ruth is a young woman when she meets Naomi and her sons for the first time. An outcast in her family she finds solace with the comfort and love that radiates from Naomi and her God. When she accepts a marriage offer from Mahlon, she is happy and feels love for the first time in her young life. All she now wants is a child of her own. But God has other plans. When Mahlon and his brother die, leaving her childless and a widow, she does the only thing she knows to do, something she learned from Naomi and Mahlon, pray. Uncertain of what the future holds, but knowing she will not part from Naomi, Ruth follows her back to Israel, to Bethlehem and faces the harsh words and hatred of her birth. Ruth is courageous and faithful, humble and modest. I loved every word of this retelling. The background given about Boaz and Ruth, even if it is fictionalized, has a ring of truth to it, making the story that much more real and relevant. Ruth faces adversity head on and shows kindness to those that would belittle her. She falls in love, she grieves, she suffers, and she loves again. Overall if you are looking for an easy, uplifting read, I highly recommend this one! It's beautifully written with God's love and ultimate plan shown throughout. If you enjoy women's lit, historical fiction, and inspirational fiction than I believe you will enjoy this book! ***I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.***
Excellent Biblical Story! I so enjoyed reading In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar. Based on the biblical account of Ruth. The author has based the story on the Bible account of the book of Ruth and adds what she thinks might have happened to really bring one of my favorite bible stories to life. It starts out with telling us what might have been Boaz' history before Ruth. About Ruth's family and how they treated her. How Naomi and Ruth met, their trip to Bethlehem. The things that they may have had happen to them on this trip. Goes on to tell us how Ruth and Boaz met and brings to life the night on the threshing floor. I was so drawn into this book that I didn't want to lay it down at all. As I read I felt that I was there with them thousands of years ago when all of this did take place. One of my favorite quotes from the book Boaz said to Ruth - "What’s a little dung compared to the riches of a good harvest? If you want blessing, you must accept the manure that accompanies it." I highly recommend this book to anyone that would like to read a good story based on biblical history. I received an advanced copy of this from the publisher in exchange for my review rather it be good or bad.
I always enjoy Tessa Afshar's books, and IN THE FIELDS OF GRACE is no exception. It was not only well written, but also Biblically accurate. It encouraged me to read the Bible book of Ruth again.
Tessa Afshar is truly skilled in the art of writing! She has taken a timeless story and given us a great picture as to what might have been in the life and time of Ruth and Boaz. I laughed and I cried. Truly a treasure to read!!
Reading In the Field of Grace brings a hush to my soul—like standing on holy ground as Tessa Afshar brings one of my favorite Biblical stories to life. I find I need to stop and bask in the Lord’s presence because the story ushers me there. As I travel the road from Moab to Bethlehem with Ruth and Naomi, I discover a deeper message for my own heart. I connect with these two women in a powerful way; Tessa has woven a masterful story with a message that will touch and transform. If you love the story of Ruth—you will love it more after reading In the Field of Grace!
I loved this book! I haven't read much Biblical based fiction, but I absolutely love Tessa Afshar's books. She brings Bible stories to life. From the first chapter of "In the Field of Grace," I was hooked. This book really brought the story of Ruth to life for me. I have always loved the story of Ruth, and this book made me love it even more. I'd recommend for anyone looking for a good read to give it a try! I don't think you'll be disappointed.
I read alot of fiction about Ruth and Naomi. This will be one of my favorites!