Prolific writer and National Book Award winner Walter Wangerin's book, Naomi and Her Daughters, is an artful novel that imagines the life of the Biblical Naomi--and those around her, such as Ruth and Boaz--in rich and compelling detail.
Wangerin (Ragman and Other Cries of Grace, Miz Lil and the Chronicles of Grace, The Book of God), is among my favorite authors, and I was not disappointed in this book. He has few (if any) peers in crafting well-rounded characters and faithfully reflecting ancient Biblical cultures and customs in fiction. Though the outline of Naomi's latter years is familiar from the book of Ruth in the Bible, I reveled in his expert interweaving of Biblical accounts and imagined events.
Unfortunately, I sometimes found the back-and-forth timeline of the narrative distracting, and the section devoted to Boaz, the only male protagonist, slowed things down considerably for me. And though I was surprised by a few profanities, more jarring to me was Wangerin's placement of much later writings (Psalm 103, for example, and the Song of Songs) in the mouth of Naomi. Though, to be fair, it is not impossible to imagine (as perhaps Wangerin does) that the poetry of David and later songwriters found inspiration in phrases or verses learned from the songs of their grandmothers--like Ruth and Naomi.
Such distractions, however, were merely that--distractions from an otherwise enjoyable and enriching story. As great Biblical fiction should, it broadens and deepens my interest in and appreciation for the Biblical accounts, and brings to life some of the most intriguing characters in a most intriguing historical period.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”