Naomi and Her Daughters: A Novel

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9780310327349: Naomi and Her Daughters: A Novel
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From master storyteller Walter Wangerin, Jr. comes this familiar biblical saga told in a fresh, transfixing way. You’ll feel you’ve never heard it before! Melding historical accuracy with imaginative detail, Wangerin uses the biblical books of Judges and Ruth to explore themes of love, faith, grief and community set against a backdrop of war and political instability. The widow Naomi grieves the deaths of her two adult sons after the shocking murder of a beloved adopted daughter, while pondering her responsibilities toward her Moabite daughters-in-law. Ancient Israel is in chaos. When her daughter-in-law, Ruth, begs to return to Israel with Naomi, events are set in motion that will change the course of history. But wait...this isn’t the tame, flannel graph story you heard in Sunday School. In the tradition of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent and Elissa Elliott’s Eve: A Novel of the First Woman, Wangerin imbues his tale with strong female characters and an earthy realism that gives the timeless Old Testament narrative so much power. You’ll find echoes of contemporary issues throughout: deceit, heartbreak, loss, war, and, of course, the power of love. Naomi’s combined strength and tenderness becomes the pivot upon which a nation turns; her decisions ultimately lead to the founding of the family lineage of Jesus Christ. Breathtaking descriptions, shocking violence, and inspirational courage make this spellbinding novel by a beloved award-winning author a story you won’t soon forget. It’s the perfect novel for your book group, and a satisfying read for those who love thoughtful biblical fiction.

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About the Author:

Walter Wangerin Jr. is widely recognized as one of the most gifted writers writing today on the issues of faith and spirituality. Known for his bestselling Book of the Dun Cow, Wangerin’s writing voice is immediately recognizable, and his fans number in the millions. The author of over forty books including The Book of God, Wangerin has won the National Book Award and the New York Times Best Children’s Book of the Year Award. He lives in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he is Senior Research Professor at Valparaiso University.

Review:

The indomitable and prolific pastor/teacher/author Wangerin, who most recently wrote about wrestling with inoperable cancer (Letters from the Land of Cancer), adds to his imaginative retelling of religious history with this midrashic amplification of the biblical story of Ruth and Naomi. The matriarch Naomi is given a detailed backstory: long before Ruth agrees to stay with her mother-in-law Naomi, go where she goes, and accept her god, Naomi has an adopted daughter Milcah, whose brief life is tragic and compelling. Ruth's husband, Boaz, is also given a history and family, as is the Moabite Ruth herself. The author is in his element; he knows the Bible, its cadence in English, and its terse and suggestive mythopoeic style. Women readers for whom the Bible is important will especially appreciate the valorizing focus of Wangerin's sensitive work. A short but profound tale from the Bible comes alive in the author's capable hands; while general readers can enjoy this, it is an obvious choice for church-based book groups. (Sept.) (Publishers Weekly)

4 1/2 stars! Wangerin draws reader into the life of a woman marred by sorrow, bitterness and loss. The remarkably vivid and sometimes graphic scenes will have you on the edge of your seat. Characters and scenes leap from the page as readers get a fascinating glimpse into the lives of characters we thought we knew. SUMMARY: The life of Naomi begins with a daughter we never knew about. When the news of Milcah’s death is heard throughout the tribes of Israel, a war breaks out. When famine hits Bethlehem, Naomi, her husband and their two sons move to Moab, where bitterness and loss sear her soul. Naomi returns to Bethlehem as much different person. And it is in Bethlehem where we see the hand of God perform his greatest miracle yet. (Romantic Times)

Based on Judges and Ruth, Naomi and her Daughters weaves the history of ancient Israel into the drama of Naomi’s life as a storyteller-poet. Naomi enters the homes and hearts of the residents of Bethlehem where she ministers to their physical needs, and as their wise woman or Hakamah, teaches them their history. Wangerin’s Boaz becomes a grief-stricken wanderer through the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah as he remembers Naomi’s stories. With Wangerin’s descriptive tough, even characters briefly mentioned in the Bible seem to take on flesh and blood. Readers will come to care about the pain and struggles, the defeats and victories of Naomi’s contemporaries. The familiar story of Ruth and Boaz retold by this award-winning author affirms the founding of the lineage of Jesus Christ (Christian Retailing)

Good Christian fiction does what all great fiction does---it introduces us to characters and stories that make us think, feel and reflect. And this year’s crop is no different. From a retelling of a classic biblical story to a modern take on faith and family, our selections will have you reading late into the night. A versatile writer, Walter Wangerin Jr. has written fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. In Naomi and Her Daughters, Wangerin utilizes the books of Judges and Ruth to boldly retell an often-marginalized biblical story. Not a child’s Sunday-school version, Naomi’s life story is sometimes a tough read; the environment was harsh, the language rough, and women and children were treated as a second (or third) class during the Old Testament era. Still, timeless issues like murder, war, heartbreak and, of course, the power of love, manage to come to the forefront. Wangerin is adept at neither glorifying nor mollifying this pivotal biblical character, who changes not only the lives around her, but also the course of an entire nation. This novel might forever change the way you think about brave, heroic Naomi. (Book Page)

Walter Wangerin reimagines Naomi’s story and the period of the Judges in this evocative, sometimes brutal novel. Naomi is pictured as a healer and a singer of the songs of Israel – after the fashion of Deborah or Miriam. A Wastrel tanner in their village has a daughter who becomes like a daughter to Naomi and Elimilech. Wangerin ties together several tales from Judges, showing how Naomi descended from a state of blessed, fruitful abundance to her dry and bitter widowhood, before being restored again to life through her daughter-in-law Ruth. Wangerin’s Naomi lives and breathes on a raw and gritty stage, with God remaining always faithful – although she doesn’t always see it. (World)

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