Monday, April 4, 2011

Favorite Reads Giveaway: Jane Hamilton's The Book of Ruth

Another week, another favorite read. The winner of last week's Favorite Reads Giveaway is Donna Vandygriff from Mrs. V's Place. I can't wait for you to get your hands on Ellen Foster. You will devour it in one sitting if you like it as much as I did. Also, several years ago a television movie based on the novel was created. Jena Malone played an excellent on-screen version of the spunky book character, and you can still purchase the DVD from Amazon.

This week, I am featuring Jane Hamilton's debut novel The Book of Ruth. The novel was chosen for Oprah's Book Club in November 1996. It also won several awards, including the Hemingway Foundation/ PEN award, when it was published in 1989. The book was made into a Lifetime movie in 2004, but still plays from time to time. (In fact, Lifetime's website says it will be shown on April 24. And as a total aside to the topic at hand, did you know lets you set reminders that email you before a movie on Lifetime shows? I just set one for The Book of Ruth, because I can't set my DVR that far in advance.)

Synopsis: Main character Ruth lives in a small town in Illinois with a cast of characters who do nothing for her. Her mother May is by turns cruel and neglectful. Her brother Matt is a math prodigy who escapes after high school to Boston to attend college, leaving Ruth behind with their mother. Her only friend, Daisy, gets her into trouble. When Ruth meets Ruby, her future husband, she believes he is just the thing to rescue her from her life. But Ruby is no knight on a white horse; instead, he moves into Ruth's family home with her and May. His inability to hold down a job and issues with drugs and alcohol only worsen Ruth's situation. Ruth finds some solace in a new baby, as well as from letters from her Aunt Sid, but little seems to shine brightly in her hometown of Honey Creek.

Brief Review: Although Hamilton's first novel is anything but light reading, she draws Ruth's life with such skill it is impossible not to love this novel. Beautifully written, with characters so rich they fairly jump off the page, Hamilton has created a piece of literature most writers only dream of writing. Although I'm not an Oprah fan in general (I know, I know -- everyone loves her), I have to admit that her Book Club choices often end up being some of my favorite books. This one is no exception. Don't be surprised at a grisly, terrible ending for this story. Ruth seems to head down a pathway that can only end in heartbreak, and Hamilton doesn't sugarcoat anything. Despite the heavy themes, there is a certain sense of hope in the end.

Interested in reading The Book of Ruth for yourself? Enter the giveaway for this week by filling out the form below. Better your chances of winning by posting a link to your friends on Facebook, tweeting about the giveaway on Twitter, posting about it on your own website or blog, or becoming a follower of A Worn Path. Good luck and happy reading!

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