I have loved the other three books I have read by Sue Monk Kidd, and in this new novel she strays far and in doing so creates a compelling story of Biblical times with a twist. Here is my Book Review of The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd.
Kidd herself says she is audacious to write this fictional tale, based period of Jesus in the first century. But instead of following the practiced story from the New Testament Kidd gives Jesus a wife. Ana is the key character of The Book of Longings.
Imagining a world for women during this period we follow Ana from her upbringing in a wealthy but unloving family in Galilee, to her first meeting with Jesus and through their eventual marraige, which saves her from being forced to become a concubine for Herod Antipas.
In the ensuing years of marriage Jesus and Ana each develop their own spiritual beliefs, with Jesus setting off to follow John the Immerser and eventually declaring himself the long awaited Messiah, King of the Jews. Ana and Jesus are separated for several years during his pilgrimage and she finds her own voice in her spiritual writings, even while women are not allowed to do such things or be educated.
Followers of Jesus are unaware he is married, or that Ana and Jesus lost a baby girl at birth. In Kidd’s story these unknowns about Jesus are never recorded.
Despite much trial and a long endured separation, Ana and Jesus are reunited, but of course we all know how Jesus’ life ends.
I loved how Kidd takes the biblical stories we all know, elaborates with other historical facts we may not know, and then peppers the story with fictional detail that blends seamlessly and beautifully to round out the life of all the characters; most names we will recognize.
Particularly poignant for me was the focus on the Jesus as a human being not a divinity. The overarching message is one of bold and strong women of the time-period, who persevere despite strict control by males to keep women subordinate. The triumph of this story is Ana’s will and courage, a beautiful account of a woman finding her voice during a historical period where society wants to silence her.
I loved this book.
*****Five stars for The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
Read last week’s review of The Night Watchman
My current read Wolf Hall
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