|Original Title||:||The Book of Longings : A Novel|
|Published Date||:||21st Apr 2020|
|Number of Pages||:||416 Pages|
The Book of Longings Overview“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.”
Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.
Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus’s public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.
Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity,The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her.
The Book of Longings Reviews
Angela M2020-08-25There have been many times when I’ve read about strong, courageous, intelligent women, both real and imagined who long for and achieve things that are deemed only acceptable and possible for men at the time of history in which they live. I have at those times thought that these were women beyond their time, but now I’m not so sure that thinking does justice to them. The striking thing is that they are women of their time, different than most because of their audacity to follow their longings when up against the societal and historic norms. Ana, the narrator of this novel is one of these imagined characters. She also happens to be married to Jesus. I received an early copy of this, but kept putting it off. I’m a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd, but I was hesitant - not sure if I wanted to read a rewrite or imagined story of Jesus. There may be people who will be offended by the premise that Jesus had a wife, but I was not. The author has chosen to portray Jesus as human, breaking from traditional Christian belief that he was the son of God. It’s a work of fiction and that is emphasized by Sue Monk Kidd in the Virginia Woolf quote she kept propped up in her desk while writing the book : “Everything is the proper stuff of fiction.” I remember she did the same thing with another quote when she was writing The Invention of Wings.Jesus is a major character in the novel, his travels, his love of the the poor, his love of God who he calls his father - many of the things I know from the Bible are front and center here, but so is his love of Ana, which is beautifully portrayed. Others I know from the Bible are here - the Good Samaritan, Martha and Lazarus, Herod, John the Immerser who we better know as John the Baptist and Simon and his bother Andrew and Judas who in this story is Ana’s cousin raised as her brother. Yet, for me the story was Ana’s because it is not her marriage to Jesus that defines her. Ana is the daughter of a scribe, a father whose only saving grace is that he allowed Ana to read and write and be taught and the daughter of a mean spirited mother who wished that Ana had never been born . There are strong women in Ana’s life, especially her aunt Yaltha, whose strength and support of Ana and her own sad story and longing of her own are part of Ana’s journey. It’s a journey of Ana’s longing to write of the women from the scriptures whose stories needed to be told and remembered. The journey is a lengthy one, sometimes a little too lengthy, and so four stars instead of five. But bottom line is that I’m sorry I waited so long to read this book. I had a hard time putting it down.I received a copy of this book from Viking through Edelweiss.more
*TUDOR^QUEEN*2020-06-27When I saw the premise of this book, that Jesus Christ had a wife, I was quite intrigued to read it. My one hesitation was that this might feel like work to read. I demand from my reading experience to provide an interlude of escape and relaxation. I don't like to "get into the weeds" when I read. On the religious front, I am a believer. But back in the early eighties I purchased "The Reader's Digest Bible" and found that it was the only palatable version I could withstand reading. I needn't have worried about this tome. Ten percent into this I was already enchanted.This is a work of historical fiction narrated by Ana, the wife of Jesus. As the book begins, she is fourteen. She is not following the accepted role of a young woman in her time. She has great aspirations and longings. Her passion is writing. She feels a sense of destiny that she will do something important with this gift and will be undeterred in realizing this goal. Her father has grudgingly provided tutors so Ana can perfect her writing skills and learn different languages. He has also kept Ana supplied with parchment and material to make inks. She has already documented important stories of females that she knows, since no one seems to write about them. Ana considers her handiwork of these scrolls her most valuable possession.At this time in history, a woman's role was decided by her parents and involved being a pawn in arranged marriages. A contract would be prepared for the marriage that was advantageous for the parents. Ana's parents had no intention of her prioritizing a writing career of any sort, and they would decide who she would marry. Love was not even a consideration. Ana's father's sister Aunt Yalta came to live with the family. Yalta is a very strong and calculating woman... a bit of a rogue. She understands Ana better than anyone. They are like kindred spirits. Unlike Ana's parents, Yalta encourages Ana to utilize her talents and inner strength to become the woman she wants to be. The writing style is very straightforward and easily digestible, the way I like it. Ana meets Jesus in a marketplace at the beginning of the book when she is 14. Without prior warning, Ana is being brought by her parents to meet an intended elderly husband. Nearby, Jesus is helping his sister Salome with some threads for sale at a market table. The second when Ana looks into Jesus's eyes for the first time was a beautiful "aha" moment. Decades later, Ana is right there in the street (along with her mother-in-law Mary) as Jesus is bearing the weight of the cross on his back, struggling with each step to his own execution. This is an incredible book about a very intelligent, strong, talented and brave woman. I am overwhelmed.Thank you to Viking / Penguin Publishing Group for providing an advance reader copy via Edelweiss.more
Moonkiszt2020-06-27Yikes. This is a rewrite on everything I ever learned in Sunday school. Between the title about "longings" and the first bold statement, "I'm Jesus's wife" I was hoping we weren't in for something to challenge Salome's 7 sexy veils and Solomon's many mentions of plump pomegranates - which for me is as exotic and erotic as bible characters need to be. I didn't want to have to unsee/unimagine anything savior-related. With trepidation I ventured forth, and because we started out in Roman-ish households and situations I felt confident we were far away from the “wife” thing. And we were. Rather than taking umbrage at Ana’s first claim and building up my ecclesiastical defense of everything anyone ever taught me (because of course they know the absolute truth of things), I rode the wave of suspended disbelief in order to have a fuller picture. Ah. . .Ana is Judas’s sister. Which surprisingly doesn’t complicate things because of timelines, political leanings of the various characters, and soon I was in it. The author used all the characters already known and approached all of them from a very different direction. . . ordinary, everyday life. Not a far reach but enough of one that it got me thinking about all of the New Testament stories in a different way, and it has been a long time since I did more than rote reading of that old friend. Thinking of all the complications of everyday life in that time, that place, those politics. Thinking that maybe he didn’t know from conception what the plan was. . . and maybe years 20 through 30 were filled with a life more normal than just taking care of Mom happened. If for no other reason, I’m glad to have read that story – thinking about Jesus as a husband, as a provider (without heavenly magic involved), as a sinless person in that span and relationship. It really got me thinking. Can two people spend 10 years together and NEVER commit a sin???? Not once, not even a teensy one? Then you get to thinking about all the rules, commandments and boxes we are all busy trying to check. Oy. Makes me tired. These are the different diving boards reading this book presented for me.I dreaded what I knew was coming, and it was hard to read, but I loved the way it handled (crucifixion). In the traditional setting you hear all about the what the men did, with the ladies doing cleanup later. In SM Kidd’s version of the tale, women were front and center everywhere, as I think they would have been. There is a certain amount of all the things we know in hindsight that are gathered in and are added to the tale, but they work. . .just feels a little convenient. Other than that, I think this is a surprisingly worthy read. I can imagine the robust book club discussions if anyone tries to even dare present this as a real possibility overriding commonly held traditions and beliefs, but on the other hand, those are my favorite to be part of. . .so there’s that.And, after having read it, I do think about that Jesus in my head differently – that perfect guy who used to be white, and kinda German/Scandinavian (I grew up with the Harry Anderson version) – I’m now adjusted to and welcome the ethnically corrected image, but the difference goes beyond image now, thanks to Sue Monk Kidd. While I’m beyond grateful for all that was done for me, he could’ve really been an awesome husband, and had a meaningful life doing good with his faithful twelve, without getting political or uber-religious. He could have still stayed in contact with Higher Power and done good on the sly and come up behind the Herods and changed history a different way. But maybe there is an author working on that somewhere in the world. This author pulls the plug and the husband of Ana had to choose who he was – and Ana didn’t win – hence, the writings full of Longing. . . .One last thing I loved. Ana didn’t think much of “God” or the divine male as a higher power, since so many things had gone sideways in her life – He hadn’t really proved himself. She prayed to the divine female, who she was told is named Sophia. I can relate to Ana, a lot. I find myself looking for Sophia in my life. . . .4 stars for providing such great diving boards to dive deep enough to pull up new thoughts on very entrenched topics. If I keep thinking on this, I may move this to 5 stars.more
Katie (never.ending.reading.list)2020-06-10Wow.I was skeptical when I first heard about this one but definitely curious. It felt blasphemous to read a book with a fictionalized love story with Jesus but I decided to give it a shot - I'm so glad I did. The story is remarkable. It focused on the historic life of Jesus and didn't touch on the divine. It was interesting to imagine his life and what his day to day or his lost years would entail. I learned so much about the times and beliefs of people in the Middle East during the 1st century. Sue Monk Kidd did a great job telling this story and bringing it all to life. While there was a great love story, this book is about Ana - Jesus' fictionalized wife. Ana's life shows the reader the horrible struggles women faced. Her journey to learn and share her writings with the world was remarkable. While I don't believe Jesus had a wife, I like to think that a women like Ana did exist during these times. I hope she found her voice.more
Ali Edwards2020-05-26I finished this book last night and decided to sleep on it before writing up a review. After my walk this morning I texted a friend, "I found it so interesting to really think of Jesus' human self. I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to imagine that piece of him so clearly." I felt filled up after reading this fictional account of the life of Ana - wife of Jesus and woman with a voice. I love books that make me think and dive deeper and ask questions and this one certainly did and it was so, so welcome - I think I've been hungry for this kind of book for awhile. This will be a story that sticks with me and that I might possibly read again (which is super rare for the way I read). I'm looking forward to chatting with my local book club about this one tonight to hear their reactions to the story.more
jessica2020-05-16im not a historian, nor am i a theologian; but neither are necessary to feel so deeply astonished by this story. before reading, the book synopsis had intrigued me. i found the concept to be fascinating and promising. but it was when i opened to the first page, read the first paragraph, that i knew this story would own my heart. the writing is just so breathtaking beautiful, i had goosebumps. the language is so poetic and radiates love.and i think thats why this story worked so much for me - because at its heart, its a story of a woman who loves a man and how their intertwining lives bring forth change.this story does narrate part of jesus’ human life and historical journey (as opposed to a theological one), but it isnt really about jesus. its about ana. a strong, independent, and compelling woman who wants to support the person she loves. i admire her as a character and the strong role womanhood plays in this story. so often woman get overlooked throughout history and lose their voices, so i appreciate how this story gives ana and other women a way to keep theirs. i know this book wont be for everyone, but i found it to be personally moving in a way i never could have expected. ↠ 5 starsmore
Susan Johnson2020-05-13I can not tell you how bitterly disappointed I am in this book. I had eagerly awaited its arrival as I really like this author. I wasn't disappointed for the reasons you may think. I am just tired of spending time with characters I do not like and believe me, I did not like Ana, Jesus's wife. And because of this the entire book failed for me. I had no trouble with Jesus having a wife. We know nothing of his life from 18-30 reading from the Bible. The Bible was written by men so women get a short shift in it and they are not deemed that important. I don't believe Jesus didn't like women. I think he did. It's the same as Mohammad who liked women too but it is their followers who obscured them. It isn't the leaders, it's the followers. Anyway, I believe it's possible that Jesus married but I don't believe the nickname he would have picked for his wife was "Little Thunder." That seems unlikely to me. Ana is the daughter of the chief scribe of Herod. She knows how to read and write. She is also very opinionated and outspoken. She is unlikely to have existed in those times. I think she is the author's wish that she existed more than a person based in reality. I have a hard time believing she slapped Herod at all and then nothing happened at all. She is also very selfish and self absorbed. Everything is about what she wanted. She had a servant that she freed but expected him to do everything she wanted the minute she wanted it. He has a new job and a new wife in Egypt but she expects him to drop everything and escort her back to Jesus. He doesn't want to but she accuses him of being selfish (what?). His new wife gets dragged into Ana's plans and complains how many times Ana asks her to lie for her. Ana tells her however many times she needs her to lie to accomplish her goals. Everything is about Ana. On the whole, this was a very unsatisfactory read for me. I'd like to think if Jesus married it would be to a nicer person.more
Trista Hendren2020-05-01For those of us who have been injured by the church and/or patriarchal religion, Sue Monk Kidd brings Jesus back to life in a remarkably healing and accessible way. The beauty of this story will stay with me for the rest of my life. Thank you.
Jen2020-04-30When I saw Sue Monk Kidd had a new book coming out, I instantly requested to review it. I went in blind, I didn’t need to know what it was about. I’ve always loved her books. Then I started it, and thought...is this what I think it’s about? *reads synopsis* I then thought, damn, this is risky. And also, I’m totally intrigued. The Book of Longings is absolutely, hands down, an amazing book. I couldn’t stop reading. Think of it as a fictional story of the New Testament. One of the questions I saw in GoodReads asked if this was sacreligious. In my opinion, not one bit. The main character of this story is Ana, who would eventually become Jesus’s earthly wife. Yes, Christians believe Jesus never took a wife, however, there also isn’t much we know about Jesus from his teen years to the age of thirty and women weren’t mentioned often in the Bible. So despite what we believe, who’s to know?In that time, women were hardly more than chattel. Their duties were to marry and bear children, preferably sons. Their fathers could arrange their marriage in exchange for land or other things of value. Their husbands could divorce them if they did not produce a child within 10 years. They were scorned if they became a widow. Women hardly had rights. They were stoned, tongues cut out, essentially sold if needed. They weren’t supposed to read or write. But Ana, Ana was full of fire. She was strong. She had a voice. She was Little Thunder. This story mainly follows her, her life, how she came to meet and fall in love with Jesus, and yet in the end, never to be known as his wife. If you know the story of Jesus, you will see the names of those you know from his story: John, Judas, Mary, Martha, John the Immerser (Baptist), Harod, even Mary Magdalen. Kidd’s meticulous research into this story is astounding. She used all the truth she could, only occasionally changing timing to fit the story. Ana is a strong female, whom Jesus saw as his equal, his partner, and they loved each other deeply. They had a strong faith that guided them through.You know how the story ends, yet it’s still painful to read, as this story made Jesus a true, live person, with Joseph and Mary as his parents, who grew up a mamzer because of this mother’s questionable pregnancy. His need of love and acceptance for all is one of the things Ana loved most about him. It also could frustrate her, these callings he had. This book is about women’s rights, strengths, and longings, with the story of how Jesus came to be the Messiah woven in. It’s a beautiful story that is bound to make book club lists for years to come. I received an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own.more
Ron Charles2020-04-21Jesus’s wife is back.The kids won’t believe it, but in 1988 the biggest thing we had to complain about was Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” a Hollywood adaptation of a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis that includes a vision of Jesus married to Mary Magdalene. Protesters picketed theaters, and in Paris they set one on fire. Scorsese received death threats. Several countries banned the film.Now, into this controversial arena steps Sue Monk Kidd with “The Book of Longings,” a novel about Jesus’s wife. Such a story from Kidd makes sense. Although best known for her 2001 blockbuster, “The Secret Life of Bees,” she began her writing career by publishing spiritual memoirs that described her move from the Baptist theology of her youth to the insights of Christian mystics old and new. In the 20th-anniversary edition of “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter,” Kidd said she was motivated by a desire to introduce “readers to the lost history of the sacred feminine and to the jolting idea that God can be visualized in feminine ways.” Naturally, that jolting idea was not welcomed in some. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...more
Lisa2020-04-19An imaginative and intriguing story of a first century woman full of courage and perseverance. SUMMARYAna was raise in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee. She is rebellious and has a daring spirit. She desires to write about the neglected and silenced women of her times. Unwillingly, Ana is betrothed by her parents an landowning older widower. And then she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus in the market place.After the death of her betrothed, Ana marries Jesus and they live with his brothers families, and their mother, Mary in Nazareth Ana’s pent-up longings intensifies amid the turbulent resistance to Rome’s occupation of Israel. Ana’s brother, Judas, is an active member of the resistance. She is sustained and encouraged by her fearless Aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret of her own. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria with her Aunt, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she ultimately finds refuge in unexpected surroundings.REVIEWTHE BOOK OF LONGINGS is an imaginative and intriguing first person narrative set in the first century. Ana, is a women who more than anything wants to reach her potential and wants her voice to be heard. Ana’s character is full of courage and perseverance. I approached this book cautiously, raised a Catholic I personally believe that Jesus never had a wife. But what if he did? Can’t we just imagine that for a while? What would she have been like. What would she think about him. THE BOOK OF LONGINGS is a work of fiction. It is not trying to rewrite history. This is Ana’s story, and she had a quest of her own.One of the most amazing things I learned from the book was that a hymm written by Ana was actually extracted from a real document, known as the Nag Hammadi text, written by an unknown female author during the same time period. Sue Monk Kidd’s wring is touching and poignant. She skillfully transports us back in time and I appreciate that she had tried to be true to the historical, cultural, political and religious backdrop. I particularly liked that her author notes identify the key areas in her novel that deviate from the know timeline, the written Word or from accepted tradition. Kidd is from Sylvester Georgia and is best known for her novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings. Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin/Viking for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Publisher VikingPublished April 21, 2020Review www.bluestockingreviews.commore
Lauren Lloyd2020-03-31Read this out of genuine curiosity. Finished it with disappointment. First off, Sue Monk Kidd writes beautifully. Figurative language is vivid and original. It’s a delight to read a sentence she has written. However, for a book that was “well researched” I was disgruntled by some of the blatant inaccuracies. I welcome correction or conversation if it’s offered. I’m no history buff or biblical expert, but I believe I know the New Testament well enough to be annoyed at some of the inaccuracies. Unless I read it incorrectly - she implied that Jesus was killed at the age of 30. He was 33. John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins! Mary knew John’s mother well, yet in the book there is no indication of such and he’s initially treated as a stranger to all. Others have mentioned, even the use of the name Jesus is a slight inaccuracy as that is the GREEK version of his name. Furthermore, it was never blatantly said, but I had this overwhelming sense throughout the book that Ana herself did not believe in her husband’s divinity. I realize this is a book written about the human Jesus, but that’s ultimately flawed in that if you’re going to write a book about his wife...would she not too be a believer? I feel that you can’t believably broach this story without his own wife truly being a disciple. Instead she’s seems to be more a disciple of Sophia and Isis. Now, I’m not saying a woman needs to follow her husband and agree with her husband in all things. I’m married and, of course, feel my independence strongly. Nor am I saying that I don’t believe in a Goddess who also influences our lives. However, for this story...it felt extremely off the mark. Also, I realize this was suppose to be a book about her. About the woman who was the wife of Christ. Yet, she was absent for the entirety of his ministry. She was absent for the miracles, the sermons, the teachings...the resurrection! I feel that this is a fault in the writing. It’s almost as if it is COWERING from taking on the challenge of how His wife would REALLY have felt, responded and acted as all of that was going on. It’s a cop-out. At the end, she spends time with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, yet it shys away from even MENTIONING Lazarus being brought back from the dead. While it was a daring topic and idea to take on and form into a story...I think the book fell gravely short of the task. As I said before, I was very disappointed. P.S. Some of my review can definitely be seen as “subjective”. Yet, it is just that: MY review.more
Tammy2020-02-18While this novel contains the historical rather than theological Jesus as a character, it is really the story of his fictional wife, Ana. It is widely believed that during the “lost years” of Jesus he worked as carpenter in Sepphoris rather than Nazareth and Ana meets Jesus during this time. The first part of the novel is a bit slow to start but nicely introduces Ana as a feminist with an aching need to read and most importantly to write. Jesus and Ana marry and eventually part as Jesus follows his own ache for God. Ana experiences a lot during their separation and it makes for an absorbing story. The resentment of Roman rule over Judea reaches a breaking point and most of us know what happens next. Don’t go into this expecting religiosity. Instead, Ana is given a presence during a time when women were completely invisible.more
Sally Stieglitz2020-01-18I am of two minds about this book. It is divided into sections based on divisions in the character's life and her location. The first one, in which she is a young woman (teens), I found pretty dismal. The language felt stilted, although that was probably an attempt to give a historical feel. However, to people living in any time, their language is natural and this device felt like artifice and a barrier to embracing the narrator's reality. Most characters were introduced without much nuance- they were good or they were evil. A few historical notes rang false as well. Why would it be odd that a woman in her 40s looked old? The average life expectancy was lower in biblical times and living conditions would have been harsh. Why would the fictionalized character of Jesus not be called Joshua or Yeshua? Everyone else went by either their Hebrew names or an anglicized version of the their names. Jesus is the Greek version of that name. I also found it odd to assign modern female sensibilities about women's roles, rights, lives, etc. to a character who would be very unlikely to have these thoughts. We are creatures of our times; ignoring that takes the reader out of the story.Good news: as the plot advances, so does the quality of the writing and the appeal of the novel. I liked very much how the author embraced the "fully human" Messiah story. I thought she did that well. It was also interesting to read about Alexandria's history.more
Claudia Silk2020-01-13If you have been waiting for a book like THE RED TENT for the past 20 years this is it. Ana is Jesus’ wife and a force in her own right. Monk does not come across sensational in her writing about a fictional marriage for Jesus but rather goes into great historical detail of the time and what it would be like to be a woman. Loved this book.more
Kristen2020-01-12I was a little skeptical going into this book, mainly because I consider myself a fairly devout Christian. While I am extremely open to interpretations and opposing beliefs, I thought this book would offend rather than inspire. I am so glad that I ignored my reservations and finished the book. This was definitely one of the most delicately explored historical fiction books I have ever read. Sue Monk Kidd explains herself that, while she was extremely careful to perform the necessary research and kept most of her references historically accurate, there were some things that needed to be changed in order to fit her story line. She mentions that while Jesus is never mentioned as having a wife, it is also never mentioned in biblical texts that he did not have one, and this raised a lot of questions for me. We all know that there is little documentation on Jesus's life between his 12th year and 30th year of life, so it is possible that he did not know he was the son of God and followed the expected path of a young devout Jewish man. I believe this book explores that possibility expertly. The storyline, while intricate, will take you on a journey throughout Ana's entire life- the betrayal of her parents, the true love she finds from not only Jesus, but the strong women in her life such as Yaltha and Tabitha, and Ana's own personal longings. She is a strong and inspiring female character, and while some might think the rebellion of a woman in a patriarchal society to be a bit cliche, I thought Kidd wrote it eloquently and believably. While the ending scene felt a little rushed to me, that cannot deter me from the book as a whole. Kidd's writing and research deserve a 5 out of 5.more