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A Song I Knew By Heart: A Novel
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A Song I Knew By Heart: A Novel

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  441 ratings  ·  68 reviews
During a cold Massachusetts winter, a tragic car accident leaves a mother childless and her daughter-in-law a widow. Naomi and Ruth are now each other’s only comfort. Naomi lost her own husband eight years ago, and now she has lost her son. Carrying a deep secret in her soul, Naomi decides to return to her childhood home in coastal South Carolina. When she tells Ruth her p ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Ballantine Books (first published 2004)
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First off, the cover is what pulled me in. Gotcha! I am not inclined towards Chick-Lit books and I am not sure if this qualifies as one. I don't mind the genre as long as there is depth and good character study, this book had of all of that with a good splashing of creativity. Being a visual artist, I recognized the creativity though at times I think the author lost the creative edge and momentum and tried to grab it back with repetitive prose, at least that is my take. I also didn't understand ...more
This was not one of my favorite books to say the least. I would have preferred to watch paint dry, it would have been more exciting. Basically in a nutshell is you have the story of Ruth from the bible. Give it a slight modern twist and WALA you have a novel. You have Naomi the main character. Naomi marries Eli. They have a son named Mahlon. Mahlon marries Ruth. Eli dies and Naomi goes to live with her son and daughter-in-law. Mahlon dies in a car accident and Naomi decides to move back to South ...more
Donna Goetter
This is one I will need to read over again. I have memory problems and am not 100% sure what to say except this is a story that sounds like Ruth and Naomi from the Bible. A must read. Loved it.
I wanted to like this book better than I did. The premise -- a modern-day retelling of the story of Ruth & Naomi -- was so promising. But although Bret Lott writes beautifully, this tale is so full of description and lacking in action that I just didn't really enjoy it.
Dec 15, 2008 Anita rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Laura, tamara
Shelves: fiction
This book grabbed my emotions in the first paragraph and carried me through to the end. I haven't been this touched by a book, or a story, in a long time. My hats off to Mr. Lott.
Kristy Trauzzi
I kept thinking this was an olden day story down in the deep south with a large black family. Then they would say something that would totally contradict that thought (yes, I know I was wrong) and I would be like wait?! WHAT!? lol. So maybe as I read this story there was my version in my head and what was written in the book. I can't imagine losing a husband and a son. I think that's just unfair. Especially when your child is young and the deaths were less than a decade apart.
I envy them the ab
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A modern retelling of the story of Ruth, in which Massachusetts equals Moab and South Carolina equals Israel. I'm giving the book low "starage" -- although Lott's descriptions moved me to tears several times, they more often tipped over the edge into maudlin, overly sentimental prose. Also, while I appreciate vivid description, it shouldn't take five pages for someone to make coffee. AND people seemed to be forever touching one another's hands and faces in meaningful ways -- started to make my s ...more
A Song...was unlike anything I've read in a while. It was a somewhat slow, sometimes melancholy read, but enjoyable nonetheless. Brett Lott makes the readers root for Ruth and Naomi, but in a quiet sort of way. It's not salacious, scandalous, nor is it a page-turner, but it's definitely a story worth reading.
Miko Lee
A tearjerker that according to the author started out as a modern retelling of the biblical Book of Ruth, but turned into a story on the power of women’s love. This Northeast & Southern tale focuses on an elderly woman and her relationship with her daughter in law, 8 years after her beloved husband has died and days later her only child, a son dies. The two women’s bond grows stronger as they travel “home” to the elderly woman’s southern childhood home. I was a bit put off by the constant bi ...more
I read this novel years ago and loved it. Met the author at a work meeting this month. How wonderful!
Rebekah Leland
This is An unapologetic retelling of the biblical story of Ruth and Naomi, so it couldn't help but be a beautiful story. And it's Brett Lott, so it's well-crafted. I found it very different from his more popular novel, Jewel, though, and not as good. The prose is what people call "beautiful" and "lilting" and "poetic." I found it wearying and overly self-reflective. BUT it is a wonderful story, and at about the half-way mark, right when I was ready to put it down, I found myself weeping at Naomi ...more
I really LOVED the concept of this story, but for me, there were a few big problems. 1) the book moved painfully slow. Although parts of the book were definitely four-star for me, other parts were just terrible, and a two-star at best. 2) A personal preference - I do not like the author's style of writing. Every sentence is composed backwards and/or a run-on. For example, just about every sentence reads something like this: "We two now are heading to the store, out our worn front door to get som ...more
A retelling of Ruth and Naomi. There were elevated bits here and there.
Love the premise, but this style of writing was hard for me to get used to. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it. I kept thinking, "Who really talks/thinks/acts like this?"
Parts of this book were well-written, others were tediously slow. I kept saying to myself "Get on with it" as I waded through yet another minute description of a room in a firehouse or somebody's kitchen. The cemetery chapter just about did me in. The author kept repeating the same phrases, the same stories. I kept going out of curiosity to see what would happen and how it would parallel the Biblical account, especially the part about the covering of the feet. Let's just say it was appropriate t ...more
Avril Vandermerwe
This is an exquisite story, beautifully written.
The Ruth and Naomi story set in 20th-century New England. I decided to read it b/c of that; it's a way of bringing fresh eyes to the familiar biblical story. Naomi tells the story. Very introspective and psychological. The pace is slow all throughout. At first I found that frustrating, but I got used to it, and there may be something beneficial about that. Marriage, family, loss, sin, and forgiveness prominent themes. I plan to read something else by the author.
This was difficult to enjoy because the writing style was so "Podunk " it came through as though the characters were dull and uneducated. I didn't quite catch the parallel from the Biblical book of Ruth. Details didn't match, and to throw in an adulterous affair did nothing to save the story. I began skimming by the time I was 2/3 of the way through, hoping to pick up a thread of interest. Save your money.
This was a great concept...a modern day story of Ruth and Naomi, but I found the book to be painfully slow! I have liked other books by Bret Lott, but this was not my favorite. I think the writing was good, but it just had a hard time keeping my interest in the story. Beautiful descriptions and very deep and developed characters. An okay read!
Absolutely beautiful book. A story that you cannot forget, somewhat haunting, somewhat sad. It's funny, but I never finished the book. There is a moment in the story where you could say the novel ends, and it lost so much speed at that point that I did not finish it. But 2/3 of the book is incredible, and still worth it.
The story was good but I felt like sometimes the narrative style got in the way of the story itself instead of helping it along. For example, overuse of colloquialisms like "and'd" and "so's" to make her sound more southern just made me stumble over the statement. However, the book had a good message and a compelling story.
Wanted to love it I mean check out the beautiful cover!!! And I do love the idea of the retelling of Naomi and Ruth from the bible. My problem with it is that I couldnt get into the flow of the language. All the 'might could' and other southern phrasing had me rereading paragraphs right to the end of the book.
Deann Doolittle
This is the second book I've read by this author and I think I just don't get him. I liked the storyline of the book but it seemed to be very repetitive. I felt like I was reading the same stuff over and over again. Not a fan of the ending either. I think I'm done reading anything from him for awhile.
This book was difficult to read. There are so many parrallels in my life and the lives of women I know that at times, I just had to put the book down. Lott has written a tapestry of love and forgiveness. Not a book I'd read again but I definitely believe it is a book worth reading.
The story was haunting and the pain was almost as palpable as eating ashes, but I got so mae at something that a character did in the first third of the book, and so it has been a about a month since I have picked it up again. So I decided to give up and move on.
Lott's retelling of the biblical story of Ruth is a gorgeous use of language. Narrated by Naomi, a southern woman transplanted to New England, whose southern voice rings so true. Imaginative, poignant, poetic, beautiful. I highly recommend it.
CPC Book Club. An interesting retelling of the classic Bible story of Ruth, with strong themes of forgiveness and gratitude. Perhaps a little long-winded in places, but definitely worth the read. Probably a good one to talk about too.
Peggy Wolf
Feb 12, 2008 Peggy Wolf rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Peggy by: Virginia Wolf
The story of Naomi and Ruth from the Book of Ruth told in todays world. It is hard to get into, but once you are hooked, it's good reading. A Women's novel about love, forgiveness and the pressure we put upon ourselves.
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Bret Lott is the bestselling author of fourteen books, most recently the nonfiction collection Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian (Crossway 2013) and the novel Dead Low Tide (Random House 2012). Other books include the story collection The Difference Between Women and Men, the nonfiction book Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer’s Life, and the novels Jewe ...more
More about Bret Lott...
Jewel The Hunt Club Dead Low Tide Ancient Highway Letters & Life: On Being a Writer, on Being a Christian

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