The Book of Longings
The Book of Longings requires more nuance, more explanation, and more caveats than I can squeeze into this limited space. This novel is about the wife of Jesus. When I found out this was the premise of the book, I wasn't sure this was a good idea, though it certainly was an audacious one. But I have a good bit of trust in Sue Monk Kidd, knowing that she's written historical fiction with care and sensitivity, even reverence. And so, hesitantly, I started reading. Our narrator is Anna, only daughter to a prosperous family, educated, and betrothed to another man when her attention is captured by a carpenter. Kidd imagines how they form a friendship and wed. As Jesus begins to explore and pursue his calling, let me tell you: whatever you're expecting Kidd to do, this is not it. The vast majority of the book's action takes place during the years when we have no record of Jesus' life. I went in afraid, but I found this book absolutely fascinating. If you're listening on audio, don't miss the author's note, where Kidd explains why she took creative license to make Anna his partner.
“An epic masterpiece that is a triumph of insight and storytelling.” (Associated Press)
“A true masterpiece.” (Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed)
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by O, the Oprah Magazine, Good Morning America/ABC-TV, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, Time, Marie Claire, and The Millions.
An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times best-selling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings
In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with 18-year-old Jesus changes everything.
Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome’s occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history.
Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable 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. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer at the height of her powers.