Two women. Alone. With no provision. Can a woman who has lost everything, except her beloved mother, 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 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.
While everyone 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.
Obstacles. Heartache. Withered dreams. How can God forge love, passion, and new hope between two such different people?
Tessa Afshar’s name has become synonymous with exceptional biblical fiction. Her newest novel, In the Field of Grace (River North), follows the beloved story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz and has already garnered much acclaim, and rightfully so. Penned with emotional authenticity and historical acuity, Tessa Afshar transports readers to the fertile fields of Bethlehem to walk amongst those whose obedience and surrender established Christ’s lineage.
Ruth, a Moabite, marries an Israelite man and is welcomed in to his loving family and adopted as true daughter by her benevolent mother-in-law Naomi. When tragedy falls upon their house and both women are left childless penniless widows, Naomi decides to return to her home in Bethlehem, releasing Ruth of all duty to accompany her mother-in-law to a life of unknowns and guaranteed toil. However, Ruth is unfalteringly loyal and declares the now hallowed words “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God”, thus forsaking all she knows. Her love for Naomi would not allow her to abandon the only true mother she has known and loved even though she is destined to live on the periphery of society, branded an outsider. She dedicates herself to a life of serving Naomi, who has lost all her radiance in her impenetrable cloak of grief and embitterment.
Boaz is a highly revered and wealthy landowner living in Bethlehem and is kin to Naomi’s deceased husband. He too has suffered great loss and has remained a childless widower for ten years, never tempted to bind himself to another woman after the loss of his Judith and children. That is, until he sees the effervescent Ruth gleaning in his fields and hears of and witnesses her humble and self-sacrificing nature. His unfaltering generosity towards Ruth and Naomi and the gentleness of his spirit whispers to Ruth’s heart until she is irrevocably in love with him. What follows is an exquisite love story that is testament to the power of surrender to God.
Sometimes when a story is so familiar to an audience it can lose the poignancy of its message and the virtues of the characters are taken for granted. What Tessa Afshar has excelled at accomplishing is reinvigorating veneration for this treasured book of the Bible. She follows the biblical narrative closely and takes few artistic liberties so that the integrity and lessons remain intact. She portrays Ruth, Naomi and Boaz’s as complex and emotional individuals whose lives cannot be contained to the page. No, these three personalities and their companions walk alongside the reader and beckon them deep in to their journey of healing, belonging, hope and love. Tessa’s intricate descriptions engage all the senses so that the scent or tilled earth and roasted barley tickle the nose, the sweet juice of dates and figs sing on tastebuds and the faint brush of fingers tingle up reader’s arms.
In the Field of Grace ministers to readers hearts and relates a relevant and applicable message for every person who is entreated to draw near. Tessa’s writing provokes an insatiable need to return to the Word and discover the truths waiting to be revealed to each person’s heart. Tessa Afshar is a tour de force in her genre and continues amaze readers with her gifting of making the old new again.
**Note: Full review will appear in Family Fiction Magazine**
**Disclosure: review copy provided by publisher for editorial consideration**