Two women. Alone. With no provision. Can a woman who has
lost everything, except her beloved mother, find hope in a foreign land?
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 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. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to
save Naomi and herself from starvation. She is reduced to gathering leftovers once
the harvesters have finished collecting grain from the field. A job only for the
lowest of the low.
But God has other plans for her life.
considers Ruth an unworthy outsider, Ruth 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.
Withered dreams. How can God forge love, passion, and new hope between two such
Afshar (Pearl in the Sand) dramatizes the story of Ruth in her fourth novel of historical fiction. In fleshing out Ruth's character, Afshar portrays the young Moabite as a downtrodden sibling, mistreated by her sisters and a disappointment to her parents. Ruth's oppressive home life may diminish the sacrifice she later makes to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Israel. Despite her devotion to Naomi, Ruth encounters rejection and indifference in Bethlehem. Naomi's grief renders her practically catatonic, and Ruth is left to provide in both matters of finances and faith. Boaz, a wealthy landowner and cousin of her father-in-law, finds Ruth gleaning in his fields, and the widower takes an immediate interest in her, bringing hope to the young widow's sad existence. Afshar does remain true to the basic premise of the biblical account. Yet her suppositions in the depiction of Ruth's backstory, and Boaz's gallant rescue of the damsel in distress, have more in common with the story of Cinderella than the story of the Bible.