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“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 fur “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.


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“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 fur “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.

30 review for The Book of Longings

  1. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    im 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 - bec im 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 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    While 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 While 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Just started it! And look at my silly, too red quarantine reading style! Just started it! And look at my silly, too red quarantine reading style!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Calista

    Sue Monk Kidd brings so much heart, insight and new perspective to any work she has done. Several of my favorite books were written by her including Secret Life of Bees and Dance of the Dissident Daughter. This is similar to Wings of Invention where she takes us into the past and makes it live again. Her writing here is stunning and like poetry. This is a historical fiction book that she made up, but it's so well done that I kept feeling like this was a true account of what happened. Sue did deep Sue Monk Kidd brings so much heart, insight and new perspective to any work she has done. Several of my favorite books were written by her including Secret Life of Bees and Dance of the Dissident Daughter. This is similar to Wings of Invention where she takes us into the past and makes it live again. Her writing here is stunning and like poetry. This is a historical fiction book that she made up, but it's so well done that I kept feeling like this was a true account of what happened. Sue did deep and thorough research into what was going on at this time. At the end in her author's note she does tell us all the liberties she took with history and moving events to suit her story. She is honest about it. This story is about Ana, a girl with a gift for writing in a time and place where women were looked down on wanting to read and write. Jesus is her husband. This is the fictionalized part. Sue makes a great argument in the author's note, which I have made myself which is that the bible never, anywhere says if Jesus were married or not. It never says yes, or no. It isn't mentioned. We do know the bible pretty much thought women were invisible and have few stories in there as the book was written by men. Sue goes on to say that in the day of Jesus's time, a man was only considered a 'man' when he married. Marriage was how he became an adult. Everyone married at that time. Jesus came right as asceticism was coming to that part of the world. It is possible he didn't marry and maybe that is another reason he was so unwelcome in his home town. There is no record of his life from age 12 to 30, so something happened in there. Maybe he went east and meet the Buddha, which many claim, or maybe he went on having a life like any other Jew and he had a family, who knows. Sue decided to make up a story where he gets married and Ana is worthy of his love. She is brave and outspoken and has a largeness about her. Woman where property and this book shows all the horrors that women faced. Thank Goddess, we live in a time where woman have more choices. Woman can have a life and make decisions. This was hell for woman. Men treated woman worse than dogs back then. That's where this shines. Sue brings the plight of women into our hearts with this story. We see so many stories woven with Ana's of what life is like for women. There are good men who treat them well, but even still, you had babies and cooked and cleaned. That was it. Then there are worse things that happened. Jesus loved Ana for seeing the world differently and he respected her. He saw her, to her core. It's a beautiful picture of love between a man and woman. Both had goals in life and both had to let the other reach their potential. Jesus never tried to stop Ana or make her small and Ana never tried to make Jesus stay and not fulfill his contract with God. That's what I loved was seeing the two of them together figuring out how to move forward in life and how to be together. I cried so many times in this story. The women's stories broke my heart and it's easy to see how it was for those woman and how many woman suffer the same things today. Ana felt so real, so wonderful, that I wanted her to be real. I wanted this to be a true story, but it's merely fiction. Still, it made me feel so much and weep for all the pain in the world. It's amazing society kept going with so much pain in everyone's lives. As part of the story, Sue uses and actual poem called The Thunder: perfect Mind written by a female in Egypt and found in Nag Hammadi in 1945 and she lets Ana be the one to write it. She uses passages in the story and it's so strong and powerful. They are beautiful and powerful words. I want to read the entire poem now. There was an actual group called the Therapeutae that was a Jewish group of scribs that was like a monastery in Egypt outside Alexandria. They let women read and write and they were part of the community. Ana ends up here being able to be her fullest self. That was real and it's a great part of the story. There is a lot about Harod and his wives. I learned much from this book about the history. The best way to learn is by reading a great author who can bring a time to life. Sue did this here and this story is amazing and powerful. I'm sure people will hate that Sue took liberties with this story, but it's worth reading. It reminds me so much of the 'Red Tent' book, which was also good. Ana just seems more alive and more there. It's more powerful because of Ana. If people want to see what it really looks like to live by the rule 'wives submit to your husbands' this can show you how bad a world that really is. It shows how painful and horrible the patriarchy really is. We need a world not where one gender rules over another, but where we have both genders equal. It's a tough line to make work, because you have to let both people have the openness to bring out their true potential and that has pain attached to it. It comes down to how Jesus and Ana were apart so much. It was so difficult, but they each had to respect the other. There were times they failed, but in the end, they made it work. This book will rip your heart out and make you feel like your heart shines. It helped me feel connected to women through the ages. I want to learn more about the women in the bible. I want to have more stories about the women of the day. Thank goodness Sue gave the world this story. It might be fiction, but it's powerful and there is so much truth told through that fiction. What a beautiful story. I couldn't put this down and I read it in 2 days.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    For many Christians, it has been believed that Jesus was an unmarried man who was crucified and buried and was the son of God. Our knowledge of his life comes to us through the bible but there were many years that were unaccounted for in his thirty-three years on earth. What if in those years, Jesus did indeed marry? For some this might be a difficult concept and yet Sue Monk Kidd decided to take it on and wrote an interesting tale of just that possibility. Ana, the future wife of Jesus was a he For many Christians, it has been believed that Jesus was an unmarried man who was crucified and buried and was the son of God. Our knowledge of his life comes to us through the bible but there were many years that were unaccounted for in his thirty-three years on earth. What if in those years, Jesus did indeed marry? For some this might be a difficult concept and yet Sue Monk Kidd decided to take it on and wrote an interesting tale of just that possibility. Ana, the future wife of Jesus was a headstrong young woman from Sepphoris. She came from a family of wealth and prestige, but Ana is not content with the life she leads. She longs to write, to be read, to be someone different than what she is expected to be. She doesn't accept the plans her parents laid out for her, for Ana had her own plans, her own dreams, her own desires. Ana meets and marries Jesus after suffering much grief by her dominant parents. They move to Nazareth and as the story unfolds, Jesus finds in himself the zeal to teach, to challenge the Jewish leaders, to become a target. Leaving Ana to preach, she becomes entrapped in a world where while she longs to be with Jesus, she can't. She is a prisoner trapped in a world where women were held in such low esteem, where they were seen but seldom heard, where their fate was always determined by a male presence. Using what many of us know about the divinity of Jesus, Ms Kidd creates a more human, less divine character, than the one Christians believe in. She omits the miracles attributed to him, and although she captures the heinous crucifixion, she does not delve into his Resurrection which is a basis for the Christian faith. However, the story is really about Ana. She is, as is often said, a person born before their time. She is determined, tenacious, and steadfast in her overwhelming desire to write, to be heard, to be her own person. To that end, Ana strives and even though her life has what some would consider insurmountable obstacles, Ana's drive, determination, and perseverance sees her through to a life of her own choosing. Thank you to Sue Monk Kidd, Penguin Random House Publishing, and Edelweiss for a copy of this book due out April 21, 2020.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    There 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 whe There 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    Many sighs. What can I say about this? I have no idea what I was expecting, but what I got was basically Bible fanfiction, complete with a speshul heroine. This is the story of Jesus's fictional wife, Ana. It's not really about Jesus. The first third of the book follows Ana before she meets him. She's a spirited young woman with a passion for writing that is cruelly suppressed at all costs. When she is nearly forced into marriage, she gets betrothed to Jesus instead. Most of the time, she's not w Many sighs. What can I say about this? I have no idea what I was expecting, but what I got was basically Bible fanfiction, complete with a speshul heroine. This is the story of Jesus's fictional wife, Ana. It's not really about Jesus. The first third of the book follows Ana before she meets him. She's a spirited young woman with a passion for writing that is cruelly suppressed at all costs. When she is nearly forced into marriage, she gets betrothed to Jesus instead. Most of the time, she's not with him at all. I was mad at Ana all the time. She made reckless, impulsive decisions that endangered the people around her. And she suffered from a bad case of speshul, one of these girls is not like the other, "I'm a rebel snowflake" disorder, which is, unfortunately, incurable. She's very... how do I say this politely... immature with a big ego. This book focuses on her need to write down the stories of Bible matriarchs, but she wastes precious time complaining about how people are mean to her. And then she babbles on and on about this "largeness" inside her. Which is an awkward word that also makes no sense. Are "normal women" smaller? Do they have a smallness inside them? Anyway, once she's done reviling other women, she manages to get herself in a boatload of trouble when she does some idiotic things that I'm not going to get into here. Basically, she's a wanted fugitive in two nations, so she finds a place called Therapeutae where writing is encouraged, the laws are not followed, and wanted criminals can stay safely. What a very convenient plot device this Therapy place is. Oh, and Ana has the ability to tell the future. But only when appropriate for the plot. Let's move onto Jesus. I thought this book really messed him up. I was trying to treat this like a historical fiction (emphasis on the fiction), but my inner theologian got really mad and started screaming, so... here we go. Jesus is fully divine and fully human. But in this book, he was portrayed as the successor of John the Baptist. And, based on the wording, he only accepted his role as the Messiah because the people wanted him to be Christ. Not because he actually was Christ. And Ana clearly did not see Jesus as divine, either, as she was skeptical about the whole Messiah thing. Jesus, in the book, was originally just a follower of John the Baptist. And then, when Herodias killed John, he decided to become the new Immerser and that's how it started. This angered me because it was so random. Jesus was just the guy who happened to come after John the Baptist. And then, when it was finally over, the ending was so abrupt. Everything happened within the last 50 pages after a lull of nearly 200 pages. I did, however, like the feeling of utter desolation and melancholy in the beginning of this book, when there was no hope at all for Ana. It was so delicate and managed well. And then it jumped off a cliff. 2.5 stars, actually 2 stars but the Hermione gifs were fun to find Original review: Moral of the story: All men are evil. Except for Jesus.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I 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 I 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Lloyd

    Read 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. Un Read 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. My YouTube Review of the novel: https://youtu.be/-VA7yL9uFCs

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    “I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus of Nazareth. I am a voice.” I loved The Invention Of Wings and I will admit to being a lil skeptical about the subject of this novel being about Jesus. I’m so glad I didn’t let that deter me from giving this a chance. I was expecting biblical Jesus, however, Kidd came at this novel from a totally human perspective. Through his wife’s voice. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the concept of Jesus having a wife this novel tells how it is entirely pos “I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus of Nazareth. I am a voice.” I loved The Invention Of Wings and I will admit to being a lil skeptical about the subject of this novel being about Jesus. I’m so glad I didn’t let that deter me from giving this a chance. I was expecting biblical Jesus, however, Kidd came at this novel from a totally human perspective. Through his wife’s voice. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the concept of Jesus having a wife this novel tells how it is entirely possible. It was realistically and thoughtfully told per the time period. I appreciate Kidd’s explanations for the choices she made in making the story told from Ana’s POV. Her ‘voice’ is one that I will not forget. This would make for a great book club pick. A must read!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    4.5 Stars ’All my life, longings lived inside me, rising up like nocturnes to wail and sing through the night. That my husband bent his heart to mine on our thin straw mat and listened was the kindness I most loved in him. What he heard was my longing to be born.’ This is the story of Ana, the daughter of Matthias, who has allowed Ana to learn to write, in a time where very few women were taught this skill. Her father is the head scribe for Herod Antipas, and as such he is able to provide her 4.5 Stars ’All my life, longings lived inside me, rising up like nocturnes to wail and sing through the night. That my husband bent his heart to mine on our thin straw mat and listened was the kindness I most loved in him. What he heard was my longing to be born.’ This is the story of Ana, the daughter of Matthias, who has allowed Ana to learn to write, in a time where very few women were taught this skill. Her father is the head scribe for Herod Antipas, and as such he is able to provide her with papyrus, and the pens and inks with which to write. Her mother is against this, feeling that it will ruin her chances for marriage, but her aunt, Yaltha, whose mind was an immense feral country that spilled its borders and whose mouth was a wellspring of thrilling and unpredictable utterances was educated in Alexandria, and makes sure that Ana is blessed with the same, and shares her knowledge on many topics with Ana. Some of which must be kept from her parents, especially her mother. Her parents decide early on in this story that it is time for Ana to be wed, and dress Ana to be introduced to her intended, unbeknownst to Ana. As they first arrive, she is mesmerized by the sight of a young man with his hands lifted and strands of spun thread looped over his fingers, moving his finger to make the threads flutter, and laughing. She can’t look away, and he turns. Her mother impatiently calls to her, in order that she may be introduced to the man her parents intend her to marry. He is much older, and when she realizes what is going on she is repulsed, both by the deception involved, and by sight of him. Her mother insists, however, saying that she will want for nothing. Before they leave, she stumbles, and the man who had been holding the thread is the one to help her up from her fall, and before either of them is able to utter a word, soldiers shove him to the ground. His sister calls his name. Jesus. While some of this, naturally, has some connection to the biblical story of Jesus, this is really the story of Ana. Their marriage, and how she comes to leave Sepphoris to move to the home of his family in Nazareth are part of this story, but it is Ana’s story that is the heart of this. For those who might think she was portrayed as too much of ‘feminist’ for the era, consider Cleopatra, who was born sixty-some years prior to the birth of Jesus. Eventually, the story introduces the character of John the Baptist, of whom Jesus has heard stories and wishes to witness this with his own eyes. Eventually he must leave Ana behind in his desire to travel with John the Baptist, since it would be too dangerous for her to go with them. I loved this, if a bit unevenly at times. There are parts that I felt would have benefitted from some minor trimming, but I loved how beautifully this story was revealed through Ana’s eyes. Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep all libraries running, for the loan of this book!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan Johnson

    I 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 I 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.

  13. 5 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN*

    When 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 hav When 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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Book of the Month

    Why I love it by Glennon Doyle, Author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed Sue Monk Kidd, the brilliant, beloved storyteller who gifted us with The Secret Life of Bees, has done it again. Her most recent treasure, The Book of Longings, is the first book that has literally taken my breath away. As I read, I had to close it and breathe deeply, again and again. Both a radical reimagining of the New Testament, and an homage to all untamed, trespassing women, The Book of Longings is right on tim Why I love it by Glennon Doyle, Author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed Sue Monk Kidd, the brilliant, beloved storyteller who gifted us with The Secret Life of Bees, has done it again. Her most recent treasure, The Book of Longings, is the first book that has literally taken my breath away. As I read, I had to close it and breathe deeply, again and again. Both a radical reimagining of the New Testament, and an homage to all untamed, trespassing women, The Book of Longings is right on time for this moment. The book tells the story of Ana—a brave and ambitious woman who rails against her repressive society, fighting to express herself and realize her full potential. As the daughter of a wealthy politician, Ana is expected to marry a man chosen for her, and not the penniless carpenter named Jesus she meets in a chance encounter. What follows is a stunning and universal portrayal of women’s longing, silencing, and awakening. I read The Book of Longings right after my own book Untamed made its way into the world, and found Ana of Sue Monk Kidd's masterpiece to be a breathtakingly untamed woman. I will carry The Book of Longings in my heart forever, because it reflects what was always there. I invite every trespassing woman to find her own journey in Ana's story—and to finish this novel mesmerized, encouraged, and emboldened. Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/the-book-o...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Jesus’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 abou Jesus’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...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cathrine ☯️

    2.5★ I was mostly bored then longing to finish this one and move on.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rambling Reviews

    I simply couldn't suspend my disbelief. Ana's beliefs about herself were too modern, she was too perfect, there were too many obvious fallacies and inaccuracies for a 'well-researched' book, and I found myself rolling my eyes every time she showed up at YET ANOTHER significant historical event, while remaining largely silent on her husband's activities? Yeah. I simply couldn't suspend my disbelief. Ana's beliefs about herself were too modern, she was too perfect, there were too many obvious fallacies and inaccuracies for a 'well-researched' book, and I found myself rolling my eyes every time she showed up at YET ANOTHER significant historical event, while remaining largely silent on her husband's activities? Yeah.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    If you are a fan of myth retellings or Biblical tale reimaginings, this is likely a book for you. Sue Monk Kidd also takes the material she wrote a memoir about over a decade ago and uses it in this novel. That memoir had an impact on me when I first read it - The Dance of the Dissident Daughter - about her discovery of Gnosticism, feminist spirituality, and how that changed her perspective of her own faith. It was easy for me to see how those ideas are wound through this novel. Okay, so if that If you are a fan of myth retellings or Biblical tale reimaginings, this is likely a book for you. Sue Monk Kidd also takes the material she wrote a memoir about over a decade ago and uses it in this novel. That memoir had an impact on me when I first read it - The Dance of the Dissident Daughter - about her discovery of Gnosticism, feminist spirituality, and how that changed her perspective of her own faith. It was easy for me to see how those ideas are wound through this novel. Okay, so if that didn't scare you away, I feel I should also say that you will get more out of this book the more you know about the Biblical/Historical Jesus. But many who know a lot about that may be turned off by the idea of Jesus having a wife. The author addresses this very well in the back of the book, and I would encourage reading that if it is something you are not sure about. She acknowledges which things she changed from the traditional Biblical narrative, which things she borrowed from other places, and which came from her own mind. If anything, Kidd is a master of threading her research into her stories. I read The Thunder: Perfect Mind first when I read Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels so I definitely recognized it when it came up in this story; I was relieved to see her credit it and explain where it comes from after the end of the novel. That is a lot of overture and caveat, but any reader of Sue Monk Kidd should not be surprised by feminist underpinnings to this novel. It is about Ana, the wife of Jesus, from her childhood to later in life. Ana begs her father to allow her to learn how to read and write so in an era of expensive parchment and lack of education for women, she learns how to read and write, and in more than one language. Learning and writing, inspiration and calling are all important themes in the book as Ana navigates feeling called while also being told it isn't appropriate (from her family) or possible (once she is married and much poorer) by the people around her. And what do you do with a woman who believes she has something to say? I enjoyed the thought experiment of such a woman and what the man Jesus (based on a blending of Biblical text and historical documents) would have done with such a wife. I kind of hate that I enjoyed it but growing up in fundamentalism it's pretty hard not to want to imagine the what if's from the women excluded from stories. The other thing that I think Kidd does very well is the way she weaves in the stories of the New Testament into Ana's story but gives them a little twist. The first time this is hinted at is when Ana visits the temple in Jerusalem, but you really see different contexts for the stoning ("let he who is without sin cast the first stone"), the "Good Samaritan," and that's just the beginning. Ana loves Jesus, but she only really knows him as a kind man, who has a calling of his own. The way they release each other into that calling is an incredible act of love, but she never sees him as magical Jesus; she never sees any miracles for instance. There are reasons for this in the text but I like how it gives her a very specific personal version of him, and she loves him. I had a copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss; it came out April 21, 2020.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Much historical, political, cultural and religious research went into the writing of this story. Sue Monk Kidd's writing craft really shines in her development of characters (even several minor ones) as well as her highly descriptive writing. Her "Author's Note", read by Kidd herself, goes on to explain her hesitant reasoning of choosing the possibility of Jesus having a wife and what this woman would have been like; however, the majority of this story focuses on Ana's independent thinking and h Much historical, political, cultural and religious research went into the writing of this story. Sue Monk Kidd's writing craft really shines in her development of characters (even several minor ones) as well as her highly descriptive writing. Her "Author's Note", read by Kidd herself, goes on to explain her hesitant reasoning of choosing the possibility of Jesus having a wife and what this woman would have been like; however, the majority of this story focuses on Ana's independent thinking and her love of writing to give women a Voice. Some nit-picky issues I have included: 1. Why do so many people have to suffer to keep Ana safe? 2. Why does Ana have to be deceitful to Jesus, even though He has been nothing but kind to her, even saving her life? 3. Why is a weak reason given to explain why Ana doesn't assist in preparing her own husband's body for burial? Since she always makes it clear that she is His wife, this would have been highly expected of her! The real "drawing card", which I believe pulled in most readers, is that the main character, Ana, was written as the wife of Jesus. I really wanted to love this story, but personally, I found it hard to wrap my head around this overall premise, especially since copious amounts of research point to the fact that Jesus was unmarried up until the time of His death. If Mary Magdalene could be mentioned at least five times in the Gospels, you would think Jesus's wife would get an honorable mention! This would have been a fine historical fiction, but if it was so imperative to write this story during the time of ancient Palestine, then keeping Ana as Judas's sister would have been more palatable, in my opinion.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    This story brings a fictional wife of Jesus. It imagines what is possible rather what is believed. “It could also be argued that in the first-century Jewish world of Galilee, (...) marriage was a man’s civic, family, and sacred duty.” Jesus’s family would expect him to marry. Sepphoris, 16 CE. Ana is fourteen-years-old. Her aunt Yaltha, who comes from Egypt to live with them, opens Ana’s eyes to a world she had no idea existed. Jewish girls and women in Alexandria, studying with philosophers, wr This story brings a fictional wife of Jesus. It imagines what is possible rather what is believed. “It could also be argued that in the first-century Jewish world of Galilee, (...) marriage was a man’s civic, family, and sacred duty.” Jesus’s family would expect him to marry. Sepphoris, 16 CE. Ana is fourteen-years-old. Her aunt Yaltha, who comes from Egypt to live with them, opens Ana’s eyes to a world she had no idea existed. Jewish girls and women in Alexandria, studying with philosophers, writing poetry, and owning houses. Ana by reading the Scriptures on her own discovers that there were also women there, not only men. In that moment, she knows she wants to be a chronicler of lost stories. And whatever her father allowed Ana in the past, a female, now needs to stop as she gets betrothed to a man and a man she doesn’t want to be with. An encounter with an eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything. “The longing of my heart was for a man I scarcely knew.” When Ana makes home in Nazareth with Jesus and his family, she realizes that coming from a privileged life to a simple one, now she needs to learn how to perform everyday chores. And what she longs for is being able to write again. As Jesus follows John the Immerser, his family questions his behavior, making it even harder on Ana, who had to stay behind. Once John is arrested and Jesus becomes “the new John,” this time Ana is allowed to follow him. But something happens and instead following Jesus, Ana needs to flee to Egypt with her aunt. Most of the story is concentrated on Ana, before she gets married to Jesus and later once married, they are separated many times. What this story brings about Jesus is his very simple life and his very strong belief in a new prophet. And Ana who strongly believes in Jesus, but also craves to continue with her passion as “a student, an ink maker, a composer of words, a collector of forgotten stories…” Both characters are bold and yearn to follow their potential inside them. Since we already know the story of Jesus, I liked it and preferred it that the focus of the story is Ana. I loved the message of longing, what it means to one and how powerful it can be. I enjoyed Yaltha being a mentor to Ana, a young girl, who needed it, especially when her mother was cold and not approving of her writing. And through later years, when Ana marries and at times, life puts her through trials. The time period shows how diverse and advanced Egypt was. I enjoyed very much the atmosphere of Egypt and the story of Yaltha being part of Therapeutae – a community of Jews, philosophers mostly, coming from educated and affluent families, but giving up their comforts to live simple lives dedicated to studying and writing. “It has its goodness, but also its hardships.” The Jesus’s journey in this story is brief, but it is richly imagined, bringing a good sense of what struggles he goes through and still his positivity radiates, set against the brutal rule of Herod Antipas. One, who strives at all costs to be named King of the Jews by Rome. Written engrossingly, you want to know what happens next to Ana and Jesus. With characters drawn so interestingly that you care even for Judas. You get the sense of place and time, and with two distinct places I liked the contrast of two places and two different approaches to women, and how diversity can propel advancement, instead of creating division.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    The Book of Longings is a what if: what if Jesus was married? It's certainly a valid question as his movements, as tracked in the Bible, don't start until he's well into adulthood, and documents from the time period are spotty due to all the unrest in Emperor Tiberius"s reign. Sue Monk Kidd introduces Ana, daughter of wealthy parents who has learned to write, believes in herself and that women matter outside the home (this was a fairly radical notion) and is related to Judas. Ana is a great at ev The Book of Longings is a what if: what if Jesus was married? It's certainly a valid question as his movements, as tracked in the Bible, don't start until he's well into adulthood, and documents from the time period are spotty due to all the unrest in Emperor Tiberius"s reign. Sue Monk Kidd introduces Ana, daughter of wealthy parents who has learned to write, believes in herself and that women matter outside the home (this was a fairly radical notion) and is related to Judas. Ana is a great at everything, always has her wits about her, and manages to carve out her own life while being present for the start of Jesus' ministry and his death. This should be a great book--it is written with care and a close eye for historical events, etc. but Ana is simply too perfect. There is nothing she can't do, no historical moment she isn't part of, and those with even a passing familiarity with Jesus's life know what will happen. Everything unfolds at a near glacial pace and while I enjoy description and side quests as much as anyone, this would have been better as a novella, with tighter pacing and less meandering toward the foregone conclusion.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    "All shall be well...I don't mean that life won't bring you tragedy. I only mean that you will be well in spite of it. There's a place in you that is inviolate. You'll find your way there, when you need to. And you'll know then what I speak of." In The Book of Longings, Sue Monk Kidd has given voice to women of the 1st century. Really she's given voice to the unheard women of history through the imagined narrative of Ana, Jesus' wife. Obviously no one knows whether or not Jesus was ever marri "All shall be well...I don't mean that life won't bring you tragedy. I only mean that you will be well in spite of it. There's a place in you that is inviolate. You'll find your way there, when you need to. And you'll know then what I speak of." In The Book of Longings, Sue Monk Kidd has given voice to women of the 1st century. Really she's given voice to the unheard women of history through the imagined narrative of Ana, Jesus' wife. Obviously no one knows whether or not Jesus was ever married, but that's beside the point. Kidd has created a story that encapsulates so much more than intrigue over whether or not Jesus was ever married; she has written a richly woven tapestry through the eyes of a 1st century Jewish woman and resurrected the lost narratives of many women like her. Ana is a superb narrator. She is strong-willed but empathetic. She has a passion for writing, these longings that stir within her and drive her story forward. But she is confined by the historical setting in which she lives, a setting that Kidd clearly researched at length. You get a strong sense of place without it ever bogging down the true center of the story: Ana's life. The descriptions, whether architectural, political or social never detract from Ana's story, but only serve to illuminate it like the words she writes on any surface she can find. Whether on papyrus or fragments of clay pots, Ana's heart spills out through her writing and leaves a lasting mark. I was thoroughly impressed by this. I know the subject matter may either turn people away who aren't interested in Jesus/Christianity, or conversely upset those who are devout believers. I would encourage going into this with an open mind, as Kidd clearly respects the subject while also honoring her job as a storyteller. She is not, in my opinion, blasphemous—rather she seems to follow Jesus' own mission which is to give voice to those forgotten, "the least of these" which in this historical context, sadly, was women. Not only is the story compelling but the prose is beautiful. It reminded me, at times, of Madeline Miller's Circe. I think fans of historical/mythological retellings would find enjoyment in this book as with Miller's. Ana is a character I will be thinking about for a long time. Whether she existed or not doesn't matter because, thanks to Kidd, she exists now and compels the reader to view Jesus' narrative through a different, oft-forgotten lens of history.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    An imaginative and intriguing story of a first century woman full of courage and perseverance. SUMMARY Ana 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 An imaginative and intriguing story of a first century woman full of courage and perseverance. SUMMARY Ana 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. REVIEW THE 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 Viking Published April 21, 2020 Review www.bluestockingreviews.com

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    4.25/5stars EVERYONE WHO HAS READ THIS OR PLANS TO READ IT - PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THE AUTHORS NOTE. IT REALLY DOES GIVE A WHOLE NEW PERSPECTIVE TO THIS STORY. I went into this book very, very intrigued - as I always am very interested in adaptations/retellings/alternate reality stories especially since focusing on such in my MA. So the story of an alternate world where Jesus had a wife? like yes, consider me intrigued. I then became slightly uncomfortable lol like most Christians, I really don't 4.25/5stars EVERYONE WHO HAS READ THIS OR PLANS TO READ IT - PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THE AUTHORS NOTE. IT REALLY DOES GIVE A WHOLE NEW PERSPECTIVE TO THIS STORY. I went into this book very, very intrigued - as I always am very interested in adaptations/retellings/alternate reality stories especially since focusing on such in my MA. So the story of an alternate world where Jesus had a wife? like yes, consider me intrigued. I then became slightly uncomfortable lol like most Christians, I really don't want to hear about how hot Jesus is? or hear about things Jesus would do with his wife? so there was definitely a section in there I was just a BIT sleeved out. But this book, is SO obviously incredibly well researched and well considered. Like I mentioned above, the authors note really gave a new perspective to what SMK wanted to explore with this story. The idea of Jesus having a wife is an interesting one - but then, if you consider this as a reality, that maybe he DID have a wife (as SMK explains in her authors note, it could have very well been the case that he did) then she would be the most silenced woman in history - and what that means for feminism, feminist lit/scholarship, and women. That point REALLY hit me after I read it and read the authors note, and truly made me sit here thinking and considering everything over again. Besides all of that - whether or not its accurate, weird, uncomfortable or not - this book is VERY well done. Even if it was a historical fiction or a fantasy novel or any other genre like completely separate from Jesis, this book would still be a hit. It's VERY well done. The writing is amazing, the characters are SO well developed, the "world building" is incredible, and the story is captivating. I'm not sure who to recommend this to lol if you're interesting, I think you should check it out! Maybe read SMK's authors note in the back of the book before buying it/checking it out to see if it sways you one way or the other. Cause it definitely made me like this book even more than I already did (it was probably a 4 star, and hasn't author's note pushed it up that .25 star!)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Keyser

    This is straight-up blasphemy. Why would a Christian think this is okay to write?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katie (never.ending.reading.list)

    Wow. 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. Wow. 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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    "We women harbor our intimacies in locked places in our bodies. They are ours to relinquish when we choose." When I first read Sue Monk Kidd had written a new book and it was about Jesus, I was not interested. I felt it would be a didactic persuasion which I wasn't interested in. Chosen by one of my book clubs, I unwillingly started to read it, but I read it with a skeptic's lens, thinking the proof of my reservations was about to be revealed. I needn't have worried. This is Ana's story. She is th "We women harbor our intimacies in locked places in our bodies. They are ours to relinquish when we choose." When I first read Sue Monk Kidd had written a new book and it was about Jesus, I was not interested. I felt it would be a didactic persuasion which I wasn't interested in. Chosen by one of my book clubs, I unwillingly started to read it, but I read it with a skeptic's lens, thinking the proof of my reservations was about to be revealed. I needn't have worried. This is Ana's story. She is the hypothetical wife of Jesus, though he gives historical perspective; it is not about him. Ana is a precocious girl who, similar to other women throughout history, longs for knowledge denied her, a girl who wants to make her voice heard. When she marries Jesus, a match not worthy of her class, she is disowned. She remains close to her brother Judas and her aunt Yaltha, outcasts in their own right and the two other most interesting characters. Monk Kidd's descriptions of Jerusalem and Alexandria are vivid. The oppression of the Romans and the covert activities to overthrow them enhanced what I previously knew. The extreme difference between everyday life, culture, and freedoms in the two ancient cities was also fascinating. Most interesting was Ana's awakening to a new form of religion, a spiritualism of self, of God in nature, a God who does not dictate every aspect of your life. The Secret Life of Bees by Monk Kidd was a very good book. This, I believe, is her masterpiece. "Of all the emotions, hope was the most mysterious. It grew like the blue lotus, snaking up from muddy hearts, beautiful while it lasted."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Silk

    If 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.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sally Stieglitz

    I 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- the I 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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ali Edwards

    I 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, I 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.

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