The Book of Ruth

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Book of Ruth
by Jane Hamilton
 
Ruth lives in a small town with her equally small-minded mother. Her brilliant brother gets out as soon as he graduates from high school, but Ruth seems content to settle into an unhappy oblivion of work at a dry cleaner. In theory Ruth is an interesting character because she is so ordinary. She’s not that smart or pretty or ambitious. She is an average person, one that you meet every day.
The problem in that in her ordinariness there doesn’t seem to be anything new to be said about her. She settles quickly for whatever life hands her, whether it’s a job where her mom works or the first man who expresses and interest in her. Instead of trying to get out from under the thumb of her overbearing mother, she continues to live with her even after she’s married.
 
I have an incredibly hard time relating to and respecting people like Ruth. She has an awful life, one that she continually complains about, but she does nothing to improve it. I just want to shake her and yell, “You can do better!” She marries Ruby, a man who is basically still a child. He’s lazy and spoiled. He forces himself upon her on their first date, but she decides that’s okay and agrees that taking care of him is her new second job.
 
The two most interesting characters in my opinion are Ruth’s brother and her aunt, both of whom always remain on the periphery. Both are villainized in some ways, particularly her brother, for working to improve their lives. By the end of the book I just wanted to be finished with all of the horrible characters I’d met.
 
BOTTOM LINE: I couldn’t stand it. I kept waiting for it to get better or for some lesson to be learned, but it never happened. I stuck with it because it was a book for my book club and I always read those all the way though so I can discuss them.

6 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

OMG! I guess I thought this book had something going for it, since I've heard about it now and again. Good Lord. I'm not even going to get near this one.

JoAnn said...

My book club read this ages ago, probably around the time it was an Oprah book. I disliked it and didn't finish. It was also about that time we began referring to her choices as "downtrodden women books" and stopped reading them.

I'd be curious to know your book club's reaction.

Andi said...

One-star read! ONE-STAR read! Runnnnnnnnnn!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - Ugh, just avoid it!

JoAnn - Oh man, "downtrodden women books" that's exactly it! There was no point, just that her life was awful and she didn't care. It will be interesting to see what my book club thinks next month.

Andi - The illusive one-star rating. Yuck.

Trish said...

I've had this book on my shelf for YEARS. you've freed me...I'm taking it off right now and sending back to the library for some other unassuming patron to buy.

And UGH--the worst reading a book you hate for book club!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Trish - Yay! Unless you're in the mood for an extreme "downtrodden woman book" I would definitely skip it.