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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning author Jane Hamilton touched readers' hearts with her emotionally-charged novel, A Map of the World. She intimately involves her readers, again, with The Book of Ruth, winner of the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award.

Growing up in a world of physical and emotional poverty, Ruth believes her shrewish mother's assessment of her - that she is dimwitted and worthless. When she marries an emotionally unstable ne'er-do-well, her troubles only multiply. Her job at the dry cleaners can't afford her little family the luxury of moving out of her mother's house. As the incessant bickering between her troubled husband and her abusive mother reaches a violent climax, Ruth must find a way to survive. The Book of Ruth shines as a bittersweet testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

©1988 Jane Hamilton; (P)1997 Recorded Books, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • C. Byrnes
  • Kissimmee, FL United States
  • 03-30-09

It Enters Your Soul

I bought this book for two reasons. One, it was long and I had a lot of housework to do one weekend and enjoy the distraction of a good tale. and two, I liked the narrator's voice.

I found myself pulled into Ruth's world and that isn't necessarily a good thing. I had to stop listening a few times as I found myself slipping into her unhappiness.

This is a very poignant tale where the dynamics of family dysfunctional relationships are explored and often beaten down with a sledge hammer.

If you want something light and cheery, this isn't for you. If you think you can handle being introspective for the 13 hours it takes to listen, I would highly recommend it.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Babette
  • Loveland, CO, United States
  • 04-05-09

This Book Makes My Lifetime Top 10

I loved the printed book and loved the abridged audio book and was excited to see this book become available. But this version just wasn't as good as the others. The audio quality for parts of the book was poor. The narrator didn't seem to understand the story and I found myself correcting her diction as I listened. The story is amazing, haunting, memorable. Worth picking up if you like interesting characters. Chances are, you'll see someone you know in Ruby, Ruth or May. Ruth is a heroine worth rooting for. Jane Hamilton's ear for dialog is superb. This is an older title. Its worth a listen.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Deb
  • New Milford, CT, United States
  • 02-09-12

A Story of Survival

Although the protagonist is verbally beaten down by her mother and those around her, she never plays the victim. She and the other characters were wonderfully developed and the narration was great. I enjoyed listening to the story and was left wanting more at then end. It was touching how she began to become more confident, but like all of us still had her doubts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Maryola
  • Farmingdale, NY, United States
  • 08-18-10

Very depressing, and much to slow for my liking

Victims are totally not my cup of tea. I was completely disappointed in this book. Knowing a little about this background, there were moments when I felt that she was smart and going to get out from behind the cloud that she was born under. It shed a completely deferent light on her when her brother’s letter was read, and she did not get it, instead she was angry with him, when she should have seen that he was her victim and the brunt of her anger, as she was her mother’s. Very disappointing, would not and have not recommended it.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Tragic story told in an entertaining style.

I read this book many years ago and have often thought about the author's still. I've read every Jane Hamilton book. Sadly, there aren't many. Book of Ruth is my favorite.

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  • Story

An outstanding, beautiful book, gritty not pretty

What did you like best about The Book of Ruth? What did you like least?

Hamilton is an outstanding writer. This is truly a remarkable book. In Ruth, Hamilton has created a heroine for me, the story of a flawed, broken, naive observer of her life, and that of those close to her, through her eyes. This is not a pretty story but it is oh so beautiful; if you don't have the courage to live with flawed people who get hit hard by life this is *not* the book for you. Myself, I love Ruth. I care about her. I root for her. I ache for her and with her. It's probably ridiculous -- *I'm* probably ridiculous -- it's probably ridiculous that a fictional character has gotten so deeply into my heart, right into the weave. It's called "Art."

What other book might you compare The Book of Ruth to and why?

I think of Kingsolver's "The Lacuna" because of the beauty of Hamilton's writing, and also the character development which shows up in both books. I think of Catch 22, because of the incredible richness of the character development in both books. Hamilton is a master painter, she catches every color and hue and shade and texture in this story and in the people in it and she puts it onto the canvas for us to see and enjoy.

What aspect of Angela Jayne Rogers’s performance would you have changed?

I would have loved a different narrator. It seemed to me to be a workmanlike reading, and not a labor of love.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

It would have to be a Swedish movie, or Danish. Perhaps French. No US movie could catch it, no US production would have the guts or even the ability to put the grit of this story onto the screen, we'd be force-fed a slick, pretty piece of garbage, all of the character and beauty of the story sanded down and sheened over with a gloss-coat, somehow they'd get an exploding helicopter into it and I'd never, ever stop throwing up.

Any additional comments?

I know that it's an old title, and little chance of this happening, but I'd sure love to have this title with a narrator who loves and lives for us what she is reading to us.

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Why write this book?

What's the point of a long story about pathological people who never improve? I got neither insight nor enjoyment from this.

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  • Story

Fabulous character study. 1 of my all time fav SAD

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, but not everyone. It's very intense, not at all a quick read of a pick-me-up.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Book of Ruth?

It is so obvious that Ruth is intelligent. I can't understand how some readers are confused by this. There are many instances that prove this: while she immersed herself in audiobook classics with her neighbor,how she made the spelling bee, to name a couple. Ruth has no resources to improve her life. This is mainly what I found so sad. The character study was amazing, so typical of Jane Hamilton.I wish they had A Map of the World on audio- another fantastic Hamilton read.Back to Ruth, she has Aunt Sid - and it is she who saves her. Another character I really like is Daisy (the lovable slut) although she is instrumental into introducing Ruth to the man who will be one of her downfalls. I like almost all the characters. They were so damaged. I can't tell you how many times I've listened to this book. I love it that much.

Have you listened to any of Angela Jayne Rogers’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

She was absolutely perfect for Ruth. I read the print version years ago. Angela Jayne Roger's brings Ruth to life. Her inflections are spot on and her naivete shows through perfectly.

Any additional comments?

I love this book so much!! Will listen to it many more times. I love Ruth!

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  • Leslie
  • RICHMOND, CA, United States
  • 07-21-13

Great Book!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Book of Ruth to be better than the print version?

Quality was great but there was a slight echo in the background of the recording.. But nothing that deterred me from listening to it or using services again

What did you like best about this story?

Everything!

Which scene was your favorite?

Hard to say it was my fav but as a social worker listening to how it all came together with Ruby was amazing crazy

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The Book of Ruth would fit perfect

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Beautifully read touching story

I highly recommend this listen, the story is poignantl and heartfelt and the narration is superb.