Jan 6, 2008

The Book of Ruth

by Jane Hamilton

I don't know why but when I kept seeing The Book of Ruth on shelves I thought it was about Ruth from the bible, some historical fiction or retelling in a modern setting. I couldn't have been more wrong! It's about a girl from a poor family that I can only describe as "white trash" (sorry if the term offends). She's rather naive. She grows up and has a kid and never seems to change her situation or better herself much. If you've ever wondered why people continue to live in squalor, with others who treat them miserably, read this book. Even though Ruth's value system and interests were totally different from my own, the author did such a good job of portraying Ruth with frankness and honesty that I found myself thinking: well, I can see how she thinks/feels that way. The context of the story is so outside my experience I kept asking my husband "what does this mean" and "what does this refer to?" until he said "what are you reading?!" This story is brutal, hilarious and strange. I liked it just because it was so different and so realistic in a gritty mundane sort of way.

Rating: 4/5                 328 pages, 1988

7 comments:

Literary Feline said...

I've had this one on my TBR shelf for awhile now and hope to get to it eventually. I remember that I also kept thinking it was about Ruth from the bible, when I first came across it. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you for your great review!

Lauren said...

I also have had this book on my TBR for quite a while. I'm getting weary of Oprah's books because they are always so depressing. But you make it sound like it's not a typical Oprah book!

Jeane said...

If it's any indication, most of the other Oprah books I read just get returned to the library or lender. This one I went out and acquired a copy to add to my own bookshelf.

Maggie said...

I read this years ago and I can't remember a thing?!? Isn't that sad!

This is a great case for blogging. If I was blogging books back then I could go back and see what I thought and possibly still have some of the plot.

This was my first and only Jane Hamilton, and for that I should be pulled out and flogged. :D

Jeane said...

Maggie: you've hit it on the nail. I started blogging mostly to keep a journal of what I read & think of it. I've forgotten so many books!

Trish said...

Oh goodness--this one sounds even more depressing than Map! I always thought it was going to be some re-telling of the story of Ruth as well. What do you think Jeane--is there light at the end of these stories? I read Vinegar Hill last year (also an Oprah book...also from the same booksale) and kept waiting for some morsel of hope and didn't get it.

Jeane said...

Trish- I did like it better than Map. I know I had Vinegar Hill in my hands at one time, but it was either so forgettable I can't remember reading it, or I put it down before I got started. I'm pretty wary of Oprah books now, they're usually too depressing for me.