A Woman of Valor: A Novel about Naomi
First Gossart Publications (2020)
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (2/21)
“A Woman of Valor” by Judy Higgins is the story of the woman Naomi in the Christian bible. Naomi is found in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. The book of Ruth is one of the shortest books in the bible, with only four chapters; however, Higgins’s version of Naomi’s story stretches to fifty-seven chapters. Within the pages of this book lies sorrow and heartbreak, but also joyfulness and full-hearts. Reading the book of Ruth, the author gives just enough information to tell Naomi’s story. In Higgins’s rendition, she provides all the information you could ever think you’d need.
Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and her boys Machlon (spelled Mahlon in the Bible) and Killion (spelled Chilion) are Israelites living by Bethlehem in the time of the Judges during a famine. Elimelech is a shepherd but decides to relocate his family to Moab where he is told grass and resources are abundant for the sheep, opposed to the sparse findings in Bethlehem. The journey is hard, with grumbling and casualties. These Israelites now feel like outsiders to a group of people that have been their enemies since the time of Moses in the book of Exodus. Naomi’s family ends up staying in Moab longer than they anticipated, causing a turn of events for their family than they possibly would have experienced had they stayed in Bethlehem. In the end, the Lord provides and is in control.
Higgins’s version stays true to the original story; however, Higgin includes artistic liberties and adds to the unknown parts of thoughts, emotions, and situations. It was eye-opening to read how their lives from biblical times were so similar to ours now! I believe it was smart of her to play up Naomi and Elimelech’s relationship so well. This reviewer had a rough time getting through the chapter on death because I was emotionally invested in them as a couple. Higgins added so many layers to her characters to make them relatable and full of life. Naomi was a fun character to get to know because of her big heart and big emotions toward people and things.
Higgins did her research on biblical times because everything that I have been taught about that time sounds true in her writing. Her writing was simple to read and relatable to our current culture. She stayed true to the purpose of the original story and it was a pleasure to read. Fans of Lynn Austin, Avraham Azrieli, and Francine Rivers will enjoy “A Woman of Valor.”