In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

in-the-field-of-graceGenre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Publication Date: June 2014

Overlooked by her own family, Ruth, a Moabite, discovers unconditional love from an unlikely source – a Jewess named Naomi. Through the older woman and her family, Ruth learns about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. She also marries Naomi’s son, Mahlon. However, tragedy strikes, stripping Ruth of everything but her newfound faith. Determined to follow her mother-in-law, the widow sets out for Israel.

A wealthy and honored man in Judah, Boaz is content living the remainder of his days as a widower. That is, until Ruth arrives in Bethlehem. He is immediately enthralled by the young woman who sacrificed the life she’s known to care for Naomi, the wife of his late cousin.

Despite their age difference and opposing nationalities, Boaz and Ruth are drawn to each other as they learn that God can use the most unlikely people and circumstances to carry out His plan.

Based on the Biblical account, In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar offers a glimpse into the life of Ruth who overcomes major obstacles to become the grandmother of one of Israel’s most renowned kings – King David, holding the distinction of standing in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

A gentile who chooses to full-heartedly turn her life to the God of Israel and His people, Ruth has long been one of my heroes. Her words and actions bespeak of a woman of insurmountable strength and courage. Sadly, that was not the Ruth portrayed in the pages of this book. Instead, she often came across as too self-deprecating and weak. Traits that clash with the woman who left everything familiar to support her mother-in-law.

Little is known about the real Ruth, and even less about her earlier years, so I enjoyed seeing the author present a picture of what meeting Naomi and Mahlon might have looked like. I was, however, disturbed that Ruth’s conversion to the God of Israel didn’t come until after her marriage. As a good Jewish family, marriage to someone who didn’t share their faith or belief would have been unacceptable.

The start of the book provided a comfortable pace. I liked Dinah’s character who offered a bit of conflict in a story that otherwise lacked it. But, once Boaz and Ruth married, the story dragged. The writing style was what one expects from this genre. Though, at times, I would have preferred the author show and not tell the characters’ emotions and feelings.

Afshar also depicts Ruth as barren. While I know some adhere to that opinion, I’ve never been one of them, so I found that line distracting as it became an increasingly integral part of the story. The emphasis placed on it continually yanked me out of the plot.

All in all, In the Field of Grace offers an interesting tale for a one-time read. Historical fiction fans as well as those captivated by the Biblical Ruth might enjoy seeing how one author imagined her story.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!


8 thoughts on “In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

    • You’re welcome!

      I agree. It’s always nice to hear different views. I’m looking forward to reading your review when it’s ready and seeing your thoughts and feelings about it.

  1. Believe me, Eli, it was a late night/early morning sitting, otherwise I would be struggling to fit it in, too 😉 I didn’t dare look at the time when I closed my Kindle!

  2. Hey Eli, I love your considered reviews. I enjoyed this story, although A Pearl in the Sand remains my favourite of Tessa’s books. I take your points about the story for you. I love Biblical retellings, not because I think they improve the Bible or they have Biblical accuracy but they always open my eyes to the stories in a new light and take me back to the original text (well, the English version!) which I read again with eyes open with new interest, considering the possibilities, or not, of what might have happened in the gaps we all speculate upon.

    PS. I finished The Wishing Season in one sitting – very late – so you don’t need to feel guilty anymore 😉

    • I like your outlook, Rel, and how they inspire you to return to the *original* text. That’s the way it should be! Sadly, too many don’t and are happy taking the fictitious retelling as the real deal instead of seeing it as one author’s take or ideas about what might or might not have happened. When it comes to retellings or based on Biblical accounts, I hold them to a higher standard and expect more. I know it can be difficult at times. I definitely don’t envy their task. I haven’t read her other books (though I’ve heard A Pearl in the Sand was better), but when it came to this one, I felt like she failed to capture the essence of the Ruth I see in the Bible.

      P.S. Ooooh! I’m so jealous. I’m loving The Wishing Season, but I have other things going on and haven’t been able to read it in one sitting like you.

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