The Garden of Ruth

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Publication Plume , Edition: 1st Printing January , pages. Description As the novel opens, Osnath, the year-old niece of the prophet Samuel, arrives in Bethlehem with her grandmother to visit relatives.

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User reviews LibraryThing member zibilee. 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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.