Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Book of Ruth- Jane Hamilton

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1988
ISBN:  0385265700
Length:  328 pages
Genre:  Literary Fiction

Start Date:  August 2010
Finished Date:  August 2010

Where From:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  I had previously read Jane Hamilton’s A Map of the World and was very taken with her writing. I heard even more acclaim for this novel & wanted to read it.

Summary:  Naïve, sweet-natured Ruth’s unstable relationship with her tough, overbearing mother May is further stressed when she falls in love with the charming, unemployed, and intellectually delayed Ruby, clinging desperately to the hope of being happily free together.


The novel begins on a tone of sweetness that initially matches the rural town of Honey Creek in which it is set. Hamilton introduces the titular character as a romantic, misunderstood young girl who sees the best in people, despite the struggling relationship she has with her mother, May, who is haunted by the death of her true love, the reckless abandonment of her children’s father Elmer, and the favouritism she has for her gifted, son, Matt, who escapes the family’s stranglehold long before Ruth realizes the potential beyond it.

At first, Ruth is ambitious, forming a letter-writing relationship with her mom’s estranged sister Aunt Sid and makes friends with the wild, untamed Daisy, whose mother Dee Dee takes turns crying on May’s shoulder. Then Ruby enters the picture and soon Ruth’s affections overtake her potential. I found myself happy for her despite Ruby’s lack of success, but kept thinking in the back of my mind that both these kids ought to be back in school making something of themselves. What stands in the way of that happening is that May is raising her daughter and not the more educated, successful Aunt Sid. May’s unhappiness causes her grief in raising Ruth beyond her own means and sees her daughter’s entire future before it happens.

What she doesn’t see is the sudden swerve of a climax that takes the last 40 pages to occur and be dealt with, and the prior 250+ pages to build the tension that acclimates to this one event. It sounds like a setup (“I have to read that much just for 1 big thing to happen?”), but the prior events are individually worth reading, together creating a tower more unstable than Pisa.

Rank: (A)- Highly recommend


  1. Yeah, didn't see that ending coming, either!
    One thing that puzzled me...Ruth as narrator describes Ruby in such an unappetizing manner that I couldn't see how she could be in the same room with him, much less get pregnant twice by him. And May! Horrible!!!

  2. I think Ruth saw only potential in Ruby and stood out for him when May would start verbally abusing him. Ruth didn't know how far Ruby could go until it was too late. I agree that May was rotten, and even the son (Matt) could see that, but would she have been a better person if her first husband had lived? Great comments, thanks Bybee :o)