The story of Ruth has captivated Christian believers for centuries, not least of all because she is one of only two women with books of the Bible named after them. Now, Diana Wallis Taylor animates this cherished part of the Old Testament, with its unforgettable cast of characters. Experience Ruth’s elation as a young bride and her grief at finding herself a widow far before her time. Witness the unspeakable relief of Naomi upon hearing her daughter-in-law promise never to leave her. And celebrate with Boaz when, after years as a widower, he discovers love again, with a woman he first found gleaning in his field. The story of this remarkable woman to whom Jesus Christ traced His lineage comes to life in the pages of this dramatic retelling.
Ruth Mother of Kings is the fifth title in Diana Wallis Taylor’s great series about the women in the Bible, but it is the first to focus on a woman in the Old Testament. It also marks her debut with the publisher Whitaker House and, as a result, the first thing I noticed was that the cover is totally different to the covers of her previous titles. My main concern, however, was whether or not Ruth would be of the same standard as those novels. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure. I immediately noticed something that I’ll raise in a moment, and I felt that the writing just wasn’t as sharp as it could be. Thankfully, my opinion of this changed as I continued to read and I was soon soaking in the beautiful descriptions of life in Ruth’s time. I could picture the clothing, the food, and the homes of the characters. I also felt the pacing picked up as the story continued.
Taylor stays mostly true to the book of Ruth, and quotes it extensively. She has, however, written as though Ruth was an Israelite. The story starts when Ruth is a child living in the land of Rueben. She lives among God fearing people, including her grandparents who keep the Sabbath. In other words, Ruth might live on the Plains of Moab, but she’s a Reubenite and not a Moabite. Her promise to Naomi in Ruth 1:16 is interpreted to mean that she is an Israelite and already worships the same God, not that she is forsaking her Moabite family and gods. This interpretation, therefore, results in a different story from the one I expected. Moving with Naomi to Bethlehem isn’t a dramatic sacrifice. Ruth doesn’t have to adjust to a different culture or religion. When a character accuses Ruth of being a Moabitess, she explains her background and that she merely lived on the Plains of Moab. It’s a shame, really, because the story of how Ruth the Moabitess became the “Mother of Kings” in the lineage of Jesus is a wonderful example of how God’s amazing plan wasn’t just for the people of Israel but for us gentiles also. Taylor’s sincere belief that Ruth was an Israelite left me disappointed with what could have been a great story.
Thank you to Whitaker House for my free copy of Ruth Mother of Kings, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Whitaker House
Publication Date: 01 October 2013
Page Count: 256