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The Garden of Ruth

por Eva Etzioni-Halevy

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1477187,981 (3.03)6
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.… (más)
  1. 00
    The Triumph of Deborah por Eva Etzioni-Halevy (Kegsoccer)
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    La tienda roja (Spanish Edition) por Anita Diamant (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Red Tent and The Garden of Ruth provide female-centered interpretations of Biblical stories. These books are full of political and familial drama, centered in the early ages of Judaism.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (siguiente | mostrar todos)
3.5 stars

Osnath has come to Bethlehem at 15-years old and falls for two brothers, Eliab and David. While there, she is intrigued by the mystery surrounding Eliab and David’s ancestor (and I think, also in some way, her own ancestor), Ruth. It takes her a while to uncover Ruth’s story, while she is torn between the two men.

So, this is about the Biblical Ruth, and how her story may have come to be written. Actually, the first half of the book mostly focuses on Osnath, and the second half on Ruth. I don’t know the Bible – even less the Old Testament – but I did recognize a few names: Ruth; Samuel, a prophet; David (though I didn’t recognize him until Goliath was mentioned!). There were probably a few others. I didn’t remember it, but Osnath’s grandmother, Pninah, is one of the main characters in The Song of Hannah, also written by Etzioni-Halevy.

Anyway, I thought this was good, both women’s stories. A lot of jumping in between men’s beds (for both Osnath and Ruth!), though not in detail, but the story was still interesting. As always, I appreciate the historical note that was added in at the end. ( )
  LibraryCin | Sep 29, 2019 |
Two parallel stories unfold in this novel, neither of which held my interest. I felt that the characters were superficial and poorly drawn, the dialogue (possibly in an attempt to suggest the formal language of the Bible) was stilted and then unexpectedly and inappropriately veered into contemporary informality. The dynamic between the characters was unrealistic in terms of time, place and circumstance and the book was simply not very interesting. ( )
  turtlesleap | May 28, 2017 |
Biblical fiction that isn't much better than a Harlequin romance. Still, our book club had an interesting discussion about independent women and the restrictions placed on women by society (historically and today). ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 19, 2016 |
I was hoping it would turn out to be really good, since I enjoy a good biblical fiction and the author has written several. However, I ended up very disappointed. I did end up finishing it, but by the end I was mostly skimming.

There was an ongoing theme of "men can't be expected to abstain from sex, so women can't get annoyed at them for it," which I found highly disturbing.

I understand that this story is set in a very different place and time, and that the cultural norms surrounding both Osnath and Ruth are very different than those in my life. However, I think that there is a way to address those different standards while still acknowledging problematic elements in them throughout the narrative, and the author failed to do so.

In particular, I was very uncomfortable with how she dealt with rape. Major characters are raped at multiple points through the story, and the way it's dealt with and excused disturbed me.

The writing was fine, though the dialogue was a bit rushed at points. However, the overarching themes just made me too uncomfortable for me to actually enjoy this. ( )
  thirdasstlibrarian | Sep 30, 2013 |
In this work of Biblical fiction, a young woman named Osnath, who is also the niece of the prophet Samuel, arrives in Bethlehem. Upon perusing the scroll room belonging to the relatives she is visiting, she discovers a scrap of parchment with a most interesting love poem written upon it. As Osnath soon discovers, this parchment is only a fragment of the life story of Ruth, who became the wife of Boaz and was the great-grandmother of the man known as King David. While trying to uncover more of the parchment scraps that tell Ruth's story, Osnath discovers that Ruth, a woman highly esteemed for her piety and grace, had once been caught in the throes of an illicit relationship with a man other than her husband. But as Osnath begins to dig for more clues into Ruth's life, she comes to arouse the suspicion and anger of Ruth's great-grandson Eliab, who is desperate to keep his ancestor's reputation from being tarnished. Osnath, trying frantically to uncover more information about this tantalizing story, becomes genuinely surprised when she finds her feelings of disgust for Elaib turning into feelings of desire. Now Osnath must reconcile both Ruth's past and her present to finally restore harmony to her life. In this surprising and evocative story, Etzioni-Halevy takes one of the most famous stories in the bible and turns it in fresh and unexpected direction.

About a year and a half ago, I had the pleasure of reading my first book by Eva Etzioni-Hallevy. It was called The Song of Deborah and I had a great time with it. When the author contacted me about reviewing one of her other works, I was very excited to see what her other stories might have to offer me. I was greatly pleased with this book and ended up being very satisfied with its story. I think this was perhaps my favorite of the stories I have tried from this author and am excited that she has another book out for me to enjoy as well.

Though this book ostensibly had two stories woven into one, the story involving Osnath was the principal focus. Osnath was a very headstrong young girl at the beginning of the tale, and only as the story progresses do her attitudes and behaviors begin to change. From the outset, she is extremely caught up in the search for Ruth's tale and it seems that she will do almost anything to discover the truth surrounding it, even if it means angering everyone around her. I found her diligence to have a curious effect on me. I also wanted her to find out Ruth's tale and was invested in her search, but I thought that she sometimes came off as a little brazen in her tactics. As she struggles to worm her way into the scroll room, she seems to be making enemies all along the way, but surprisingly, the people she is offending offer her friendship and, in one case, love.

Osnath also has to contend with the desires of her heart. At her first meeting with Elaib, she discovers him to be crude and coarse and really wants to have nothing to do with him. After a flagrant affront takes place between the two, Osnath's heart is set against Eliab in the most heated of ways. She will never love this man and will learn to live around him. Instead, she prefers David, a starry-eyed youth who spins endearments from thin air, much to Osnath's delight. As the story begins to take shape, Osnath's feelings for David become tangled by the deeds he commits and she is left feeling exploited and rebuffed. In anger, Osnath wishes to leave Bethlehem after she uncovers Ruth's story, feeling that her time in the city fits only that purpose and no more. Surprisingly, Osnath begins to discover that there is more to Eliab than she once thought, a revelation that seems to come a little too late, forcing Osnath into a position of suffering that breaks her body and spirit. The only way to reconcile her situation is to do the unthinkable, which for Osnath, is a tough order indeed.

Towards the middle of the book, Osnath's persistence pays off and she is rewarded with Ruth's story in all its sordid detail. This section prompted me to perk up while reading, for the story of Ruth and Boaz has always been a favorite of mine. This book takes a slightly different direction with the story and tells the fictional tale of the man who seduces Ruth immediately after her first husband dies. I really liked Ruth and found her humble yet knowing. In this tale, she was placed in a very difficult situation and had only her wits and character to pull her through it. These passages were evocative and humble, painting a vast and far-reaching picture of the trials that Ruth faced. I must admit that these sections were my favorite parts of the book and I hungered to hear more about Ruth and her situation. She was a winning character, filled with shame at her situation but strong enough to do what was required of her.

In the end, the story of Ruth is revealed in its complete form, as is the tale of Osnath and her difficult road to maturity. The two sections of the book dovetailed at the end, and despite the trials that the two women faced, they are able to find a happiness that stretches across generations. Though Ruth and Osnath were very different women, I was happy to see their lives reconciled and their fates sealed, so for me, the story came full circle in a wonderful way.

If you are the type of reader who enjoys biblical fiction, then this book is probably something that you would enjoy. The author takes great pains in fully realizing her characters and the dramas they face, so this novel would also be of interest to those who love character driven books. Though there are certain liberties taken with the tale of Ruth, I think that in this case, they were very well done and believable and they gave the story a profound sense of drama and insight. The complexities of the two stories being interwoven was also done with a lot of style, making this a very pleasant reading experience. ( )
  zibilee | May 24, 2010 |
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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, 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.

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