Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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Location: New York, United States

The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Book Review: Naomi and her Daughters by Walter Wangerin Jr. *****

In this powerful and original retelling of the story in the book of Ruth, National Book Award winner Wangerin gives Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi, portrayed in the biblical story as an unsympathetic character, embittered by tragedy and grief, a back story and a character that explains and justifies Ruth's devotion to her. The character of Boaz, the man who befriends Ruth and Naomi in their impoverished widowhoods, is also given motivation and a past.

Moving back and forth over some thirty years, Wangerin never loses control of his narrative and paints a vivid portrait of an entire society, effortlessly weaving in other biblical stories and poetry from the Psalms and the Song of Songs, particularly through the chants and musings of Naomi, who is portrayed as a hakamah, a wise woman, healer and storyteller in her native village of Bethlehem.

Naomi and her Daughters is sure to deepen any reader's appreciation of the book of Ruth and the world in which it is set.

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