As as you would imagine, Gathered: A Novel of Ruth by LeeAnn Setzer (Cedar Fort, 2003) is a fictionalized retelling of the story of Ruth from the Bible, from when she first marries Naomi’s son until her betrothal and marriage to Boaz. Reading this well-researched historical fiction gave me a fresh new perspective on Ruth’s story and dedication to Naomi and what it may mean to convert to a new faith. I love seeing historical fiction based on true stories, so even though this didn’t feel like the smoothest writing, I appreciated this sweet Biblical retelling of Ruth’s story.
Before her first marriage, the novel portrays Ruth as a vibrant young woman, eager to show her talents to her new family. But she learned quickly that some of the traditions she had been raised with would not be okay in the strict Jewish household. After this introduction to Ruth, the novel skipped time to show Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah living without any living children and husbands. The devastation to these women felt real as I read of these three widows in mourning in a difficult ancient culture.
Ruth left her home to go with Naomi to return to Israel. Her dedication to Naomi and her journey toward faith as an Israelite was the story in the bulk of the novel. Her journey required physical, emotional, and spiritual sacrifice. She developed the faith she needed to be an Israelite, learning to worship the One True God and trust in Him.
There are lots of interpretations on what the Bible means when Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet. I always thought it strange. Based on research, the author gives her own sample of what and why Ruth did so. It was convincing, and I felt it gave a perspective on the story. It acknowledged this would have been strange even in Ruth’s day as well, but also how Boaz most likely would have interpreted Ruth’s actions himself. I loved the characters of Ruth and Boaz, I loved Naomi, and I enjoyed seeing the Bible “come alive” in this novel. Now I need to reread the book of Ruth in the Bible to appreciate the biblical text even more.