The Book of Longings
“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.” So begins the new novel from the number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings, an extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny in a time of great despair and great hope.In her fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she 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 Details

TitleThe Book of Longings
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 21st, 2020
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780525429760
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Religion, Adult, Literary Fiction, Novels, Adult Fiction, Cultural, Israel, Christian

The Book of Longings Review

  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    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 voice during a time when women were completely invisible.
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    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. Im so glad I didnt 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 wifes voice. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the concept of Jesus having a wife this novel tells how it is entirely “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!
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars"A man's holy of holies contains God's laws, but inside a woman's there are only longings." *Young Ana has been raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris; her father, Matthias, is the head scribe to the ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas.  Her mother, a beauty from a poor family, is cold and calculating.  Her adopted brother, Judas, fueled by his hatred of Rome for the loss of his parents, has left home to become part of a revolt to overthrow their power.Ana is restless and daring, learning 4.5 stars"A man's holy of holies contains God's laws, but inside a woman's there are only longings." *Young Ana has been raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris; her father, Matthias, is the head scribe to the ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas.  Her mother, a beauty from a poor family, is cold and calculating.  Her adopted brother, Judas, fueled by his hatred of Rome for the loss of his parents, has left home to become part of a revolt to overthrow their power.Ana is restless and daring, learning to read and write so that she can document the narratives of voiceless women.  When she is forced into a betrothal to a local widower, Ana is determined to find a way to make a life on her own terms and to save the many stories she has painstakingly chronicled from being destroyed.She finds a kindred spirit in a young man named Jesus.  They are drawn together through a series of dramatic events that change the course of Ana's life and the couple marry.  They live in a compound in Nazareth with Jesus's mother and brothers James and Simon.When Jesus is compelled to follow John the Immerser, Ana's longings and frustrations intensify.  She's left behind in Nazareth with Jesus's mother, brothers James and Simon, and her aunt Yaltha until Jesus sends for her.Ana's stubborn streak earns her the wrath of Herod and she leaves Nazareth for Alexandria with Yaltha, awaiting news from Judas when it's safe to return.Alexandria is both a prison and a haven for Ana and Yaltha as they face past regrets and bravely plan for the future.  Ana discovers her purpose and when she receives word that she can return to Jesus's side, she leaves behind Yaltha who has been reunited with her long-lost daughter.After two long years, Ana arrives home to find that Judas has betrayed Jesus and must follow her husband to witness his suffering on the cross.While there will always be a debate over whether Jesus was human or divine, I have always loved the idea that Jesus was a man who inspired divine events.  I identify with him better considering him with human feelings and desires.  It isn't too much of a stretch for me to imagine him falling in love and marrying.  I love that Sue Monk Kidd took this possibility a step further and gave us the imagined story of the wife of Jesus.  Ana is a memorable character with her longings, defiance, and ambitions.  I appreciated that she and Jesus offered each other their unwavering support in the pursuit of destiny.  They were each compelled to sacrifice their desires to share and advance their beliefs.We meet so many familiar characters (Lazarus, Martha, Tabitha to name a few) and I love how they were seamlessly included and enriched this story.The Book of Longings is a beautiful piece of historical fiction that offers a rarely considered perspective of the life of Jesus, but most importantly it focuses on the story of the bold and passionate Ana.  There are so few stories of women from this time period and I appreciate the careful research and respect by Kidd in creating this novel.Thanks to Viking and Edelweiss for providing me with a DRC in exchange for my honest review.  The Book of Longings is scheduled for release on April 21, 2020.*Quote included is from a digital advanced reader's copy and is subject to change upon final publication.For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
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  • Claudia Silk
    January 1, 1970
    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. 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.
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  • Sally Stieglitz
    January 1, 1970
    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- 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.
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  • Jillian Doherty
    January 1, 1970
    I was both curious about this captivating story, and curious if the read would be as good as hoped with such a momentous premise... it does!Well researched and easy to enjoy; the narrative voice with fully realized, provocative characters become an immersive human story - plus it has a killer first line: "I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus."Ana's voice is strong, assured, and intoxicating - filled with rich, evocative power, as compelling as her previous titles, yet even more literary and I was both curious about this captivating story, and curious if the read would be as good as hoped with such a momentous premise... it does!Well researched and easy to enjoy; the narrative voice with fully realized, provocative characters become an immersive human story - plus it has a killer first line: "I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus."Ana's voice is strong, assured, and intoxicating - filled with rich, evocative power, as compelling as her previous titles, yet even more literary and elevated. Galley borrowed from the publisher.
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  • Sarah-Hope
    January 1, 1970
    Imagine that Jesus had a wife. Not Mary Magdalene as proposed in The DaVinci Code and any other number of books ranging from fictional to scholarly. Imagine that Jesus, in the years between reaching manhood and beginning his public role as prophet and visionary, when he lived as an ordinary Jewish man, fulfilling the ordinary expectations regarding family life, had a wife. Who would that woman have been, the one who formed a lifelong bond with a man who would become increasingly focused on a Imagine that Jesus had a wife. Not Mary Magdalene as proposed in The DaVinci Code and any other number of books ranging from fictional to scholarly. Imagine that Jesus, in the years between reaching manhood and beginning his public role as prophet and visionary, when he lived as an ordinary Jewish man, fulfilling the ordinary expectations regarding family life, had a wife. Who would that woman have been, the one who formed a lifelong bond with a man who would become increasingly focused on a nonviolent struggle to free the Jewish people? What were her interests? What drove her? What did she do as Jesus left home for longer and longer periods of time traveling the Jewish world? What was her relationship to G-d?In The Book of Longings Sue Monk Kidd creates her own set of answers to these questions—imagined, not factual, but grounded in careful research into the time period and region. The beauty of her answer and the reason this book succeeds are due to the completeness with which she depicts Ana: wife of Jesus, aspiring scribe at a time when few women were literate, theological skeptic, who moves across geographical and class boundaries.The Book of Longings is both engaging and surprising, deeply moving, and a testimony to the strength of women across time. Highly recommended.I received a free electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The Opinions are my own.
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  • JS is Reading
    January 1, 1970
    I read this in a couple cozy sittings over the holidays - it struck me as I read it that I hadn't read a book like this in a long time - a true, traditional, storytelling experience, this book is mythic and intimate, joyful and painful - it really reads like an instant classic. Unnlike a lot of books I read that feel half formed or not fully cooked - this book felt like it just exists - not that it was written or attached to any author - it stands totally on its own and that is a rare thing in I read this in a couple cozy sittings over the holidays - it struck me as I read it that I hadn't read a book like this in a long time - a true, traditional, storytelling experience, this book is mythic and intimate, joyful and painful - it really reads like an instant classic. Unnlike a lot of books I read that feel half formed or not fully cooked - this book felt like it just exists - not that it was written or attached to any author - it stands totally on its own and that is a rare thing in publishing. I think this will end up in a lot of readers hands this year.
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  • Ellie
    January 1, 1970
    While reading the first sentence of The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd, I knew this was going to be an experience. One just knows when you are reading an author of incredible talent! This story of Ana, The wife of Jesus, is fantastic and fantastical. I was so completely swept up in the story, I couldnt put the book down. From the misfortune that she had to endure with her parents, to watching her friend Tabitha suffer, to her father planning on giving her away for another mans pleasure and of While reading the first sentence of The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd, I knew this was going to be an experience. One just knows when you are reading an author of incredible talent! This story of Ana, The wife of Jesus, is fantastic and fantastical. I was so completely swept up in the story, I couldn’t put the book down. From the misfortune that she had to endure with her parents, to watching her friend Tabitha suffer, to her father planning on giving her away for another mans’ pleasure and of course the crucifixion of her husband...well, this was one incredibly strong woman! Even though Ms. Kidd states this is a fictional work, I would love for it to have been true. Ana was a hero, particularly in that time when women were treated like men’s possessions. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Publishing for the egalley. I will think about this story for a very long time. And special thanks and kudos to the talented Sue Monk Kidd for her brilliant and eloquent storytelling.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    Well written, provocative, yet in essence a simple story. The writing was quite good, the pacing was quite slow for the first third, but overall a good story. I just....was not a fan of the protagonist. I am very picky with my historical female characters and found Ana to be too much of a reach for a modern feminist type character. I found her fire and will to be remarkable, but very unrealistic for her age in the beginning. It was very interesting to read of a fully human Jesus, yet I confess Well written, provocative, yet in essence a simple story. The writing was quite good, the pacing was quite slow for the first third, but overall a good story. I just....was not a fan of the protagonist. I am very picky with my historical female characters and found Ana to be too much of a reach for a modern feminist type character. I found her fire and will to be remarkable, but very unrealistic for her age in the beginning. It was very interesting to read of a fully human Jesus, yet I confess it to have been a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps that is a good thing, books should make us think.
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  • KC
    January 1, 1970
    16 CE-Sepphoris where we discover Ana, a rebellious head-strong young woman, fluent in four languages, a talented and accomplished writer, and opinionated. While at the market one afternoon, she has a delightful encounter with an eighteen-year-old man named Jesus, soon a love story unfolds. In this fictional tale of the wife of Jesus, Monk meticulously recreates the politics and the daily doings during this ancient time. Sadly, I found myself bored in the middle but the momentum returned towards 16 CE-Sepphoris where we discover Ana, a rebellious head-strong young woman, fluent in four languages, a talented and accomplished writer, and opinionated. While at the market one afternoon, she has a delightful encounter with an eighteen-year-old man named Jesus, soon a love story unfolds. In this fictional tale of the wife of Jesus, Monk meticulously recreates the politics and the daily doings during this ancient time. Sadly, I found myself bored in the middle but the momentum returned towards the conclusion.
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  • Connie
    January 1, 1970
    I am such a huge fan of The Secret Life of Bees. I kept looking for that fabulous writing in her books, but was so disappointed in the two that followed. Now, with The Book of Longings, there is some of that beautiful writing and that is what kept me turning the pages. I know the author's point of this book is "what if Jesus had a wife," however, I didn't get that as the point at all. This story wasn't about Jesus and his wife....it was about the girl/woman who married him. Her story was I am such a huge fan of The Secret Life of Bees. I kept looking for that fabulous writing in her books, but was so disappointed in the two that followed. Now, with The Book of Longings, there is some of that beautiful writing and that is what kept me turning the pages. I know the author's point of this book is "what if Jesus had a wife," however, I didn't get that as the point at all. This story wasn't about Jesus and his wife....it was about the girl/woman who married him. Her story was interesting no matter who she was married to. I didn't feel that having it be Jesus changed who she was or what her dreams/goals were. For me, this was more a book about a woman who demanded to have a "voice" in a time when women were not allowed to and how she found her way to accomplish that.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    This book tells the story of Ana, who boldly declares at the books opening, that she was the wife of Jesus. Ana lives in Sepphoris, and is the daughter of the wealthy Matthias, a scribe to Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee. Ana is a well drawn character, with a passion for education and writing, in a time when this simply wasnt a womans role. Her ally in the house against her parents is her aunt Yaltha, who fled an abusive marriage and had to escape a death sentence, abandoning her daughter as This book tells the story of Ana, who boldly declares at the books opening, that she was the wife of Jesus. Ana lives in Sepphoris, and is the daughter of the wealthy Matthias, a scribe to Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee. Ana is a well drawn character, with a passion for education and writing, in a time when this simply wasn’t a woman’s role. Her ally in the house against her parents is her aunt Yaltha, who fled an abusive marriage and had to escape a death sentence, abandoning her daughter as she did so. The women’s struggles are very real here, and the cruelty they face, horribly realistic. Ana really is give a voice and Galilee is brought to life brilliantly.The struggles they face as they run to Egypt, and back, seeking wisdom, peace and freedom tells a great story. However where this book falls down for me is with the ‘Jesus’ element. Jesus as a character is weak and the position of Ana’s brother being Judas, seems contrived. I simply didn’t believe the Ana/Jesus love story element, Jesus seemed far too passive for such a passionate woman and the book gave them so few scenes together that I simply didn’t care about them together, I was hoping for a exploration of the struggle Ana faced as the wife of Jesus, the Messiah but we only get a small glimpse of Jesus as a follower of John the Immerser, before Ana is forced to flee to Egypt and the story goes in a different direction. We hear nothing more of Jesus really, and this would be fine, except for the fact the book is sold as the story of Jesus’ wife. It isn’t, it’s the story of Ana, and as such this is well written and interesting, with a good deal to say about female autonomy, freedoms and oppression, as the story of Jesus’ wife, it falls flat for me I’m afraid.
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  • Snoakes
    January 1, 1970
    The Book of Longings is a re-imagining of the life of Jesus. What if Jesus had married? How different would his life have been? There is nothing in the new testament that explicitly states he was single - in fact marriage and a family would have been the duty of a man at that time, so is it not mentioned simply because it was assumed to be so? To have not been married would surely be the exception that would have required an explanation.And if she existed, the wife of Jesus must then be the most The Book of Longings is a re-imagining of the life of Jesus. What if Jesus had married? How different would his life have been? There is nothing in the new testament that explicitly states he was single - in fact marriage and a family would have been the duty of a man at that time, so is it not mentioned simply because it was assumed to be so? To have not been married would surely be the exception that would have required an explanation.And if she existed, the wife of Jesus must then be the most silenced woman in history.Ana is a feisty, opinionated, intelligent and ambitious woman. The longings of the title refer to Ana's own desire to make her voice heard in the world. In her, Sue Monk Kidd has created a wife of Jesus for our times, for the #MeToo generation. The Book of Longings is Ana's story starting from when she is fifteen and first meets Jesus.It's an absorbing read, the history of the region is well researched and as such it is a fine historical novel. The writing draws you in, the characters are interesting, complex and believable and the whole thing is effortlessly and expertly constructed. You certainly don't need to be religious or even believe in the existence of Jesus to enjoy it, neither will it offend you if you do - it simply explores a possibility. Regardless of the meaning you attach to it, a good story will endure. Highly recommended.
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  • Andrienne
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book so much! The imagined life of the wife of Jesus is mesmerizing. It is a respectful portrayal yet provocative for sure. I hasten to add that this is Anas story, not just some flimsy attempt to capitalize on the fact that she became the wife of Jesus. Very well done and the authors notes adds a bit of background. Thanks to the publisher for the advance copy. I loved this book so much! The imagined life of the wife of Jesus is mesmerizing. It is a respectful portrayal yet provocative for sure. I hasten to add that this is Ana’s story, not just some flimsy attempt to capitalize on the fact that she became the wife of Jesus. Very well done and the author’s notes adds a bit of background. Thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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  • Nancy Mijangos
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This novel is based upon a possible wife of Jesus Christ. The storyline is written respectfully and I feel that Jesus's character remains Christlike. The manner in which women were devalued in that time period is shocking, but realistic. Ana is a strong woman, a loving wife, and a gifted writer. She loves Jesus, but she also has dreams and aspirations for herself. This would make a great discussion novel for a I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This novel is based upon a possible wife of Jesus Christ. The storyline is written respectfully and I feel that Jesus's character remains Christlike. The manner in which women were devalued in that time period is shocking, but realistic. Ana is a strong woman, a loving wife, and a gifted writer. She loves Jesus, but she also has dreams and aspirations for herself. This would make a great discussion novel for a bookclub.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    So beautiful. Has the potential to be trite, but avoids every (or at least almost every) pitfall. The Red Tent with more star power, but also with less of the deep, feminist earthiness I loved in that book. If this book had existed when I was a teenager I would have spent at least several weeks after reading nursing a very big crush on Jesus."It was true I no longer believed in the god of rescue, only the god of presence..."
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    This book imagines the story of Ana, the wife of Jesus and the sister of Judas. It fills in those missing years from before Jesus began his ministry. Ana is educated and a scribe. This is a book of women - what they must endure and their place in society. I loved. it.
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  • Lauren Lloyd
    January 1, 1970
    Read this out of genuine curiosity. Finished it with disappointment. First off, Sue Monk Kidd writes beautifully. Figurative language is vivid and original. Its 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 its offered. Im 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 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.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    If Jesus had a wife, it would be recorded in the BibleWould it? Let's look at history, women were largely shunned, told they could not author books, run for President, do anything apart from be the dutiful wife, and churn out babies year after year. I have no real interest in religion, and I do not know what I believe in. I will deliberately avoid arguments with people about religion, and will try to avoid any mention of it as much as possible. What I only really know of Jesus' story, is what I If Jesus had a wife, it would be recorded in the BibleWould it? Let's look at history, women were largely shunned, told they could not author books, run for President, do anything apart from be the dutiful wife, and churn out babies year after year. I have no real interest in religion, and I do not know what I believe in. I will deliberately avoid arguments with people about religion, and will try to avoid any mention of it as much as possible. What I only really know of Jesus' story, is what I learned at school (although it feels like everyone is born already knowing this), and from The Da Vinci Code, despite my gran's futile attempts to send me bibles for my birthdays/Christmases. So I was apprehensive approaching this book. I really enjoyed The Secret Life Of Bees, but having recently read The Invention Of Wings, I wasn't so keen on that book. I did find myself getting into this book, despite my apprehension, and it wasn't as strictly of its time, as I was expecting. I was fully expecting the language to be hard to read, but it actually reads quite modern, without any slang obviously. I also really found myself liking the character of Ana, Jesus' fictional wife. We find her at 14, desperately rebelling against her father when she's betrothed against her wishes to a widower. She fights against being a woman of her time, when every decision is made for her, when all she wants to do is write, and she will do this in anyway possible. A chance meeting with a young Jesus shapes the rest of her life, and if you know some of the names surrounding the story of Jesus, you'll recognise one straight away in Ana's family. I did find that Jesus was written as a bit of a heartthrob by Sue, and despite Ana being disgusted when she's told she will be a concubine (with a twist of her nipple) to Herod Antipas, there are no paragraphs dedicated to their sex life during their married years. The following paragraph did show how times have changed in regards to marriage:"We were to marry that same day when the sun set, but without ceremony. There would be no procession. No virgins raising their oil lamps and calling out for the groom. No singing, no feasting. By law, a marriage was the act of a sexual union, nothing more and nothing less. We would become husband and wife in the solitude of each other's arms."Jesus is more of a secondary character, with Ana being the main focus of the book, and I would say the book only gets dragged into religious themes when he's around. There's a huge chunk about three-quarters of the way through, where he disappears and at the beginning as well. But I'm kind of thankful that Sue decided not to make the main focus Jesus, as you get more of an idea of the time through Ana's eyes. AS Sue mentions in her author's note, there is no record of Jesus for 18 years, until the age of 30, and she has largely based her fictional ideas of his life, in this period, up until the crucifixion. She has twisted some known events around in time, to fit with her storyline. I knew the book would end with the crucifixion, but I wasn't sure if the author would be brave enough to go down that route with Jesus, or take the coward's way out, and wrap it up. You do get the full description of what happened, and I could hear the thumping of nails through skin, bone and wood. Mary Magadalene/Magdala also appears at this point, with a slight hint of jealousy from Ana. The book doesn't deal with the resurrection, instead following Ana to later in life. The story could have been somewhat shorter, I reckon at least 50=75 pages. Huge swathes of time are covered in a matter of pages, and at one point, we discover it's 6 years after their marriage. I was quite shocked at this, as there's no real mention of passing time, and you get lulled into the story of the book.While I wouldn't say that this was an overly enjoyable book, it was a good read, that I zipped through during two quiet shifts at work. You could be dragged into discussions/arguments if you're seen reading this (my gran probably would not approve), so if you want to avoid that, do not tell people what the book is about. The title is alluded to a great many times during the book, including Ana's longing for freedom and for Jesus, amongst other things. I wouldn't say this was necessarily a recommendation, unless you like her other books or are interested in seeing a moment in history through a woman's eyes.
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  • Barbara Schultz
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 I have only read a few of Sue Monk Kidd novels. My two favorites were The Invention of Wings and The Secret Life of Bees. I downloaded this novel as it was the latest Sue Monk Kidd novel. What if? Jesus married. What if? During the lost years between when he was twelve and thirty; he was a normal Jewish young man and fell in love. What if? Jesus married a girl like Ana.This is a fictional story based on Ana not Jesus the son of God but Jesus a young Jewish man. This is not a religious 3.5 I have only read a few of Sue Monk Kidd novels. My two favorites were The Invention of Wings and The Secret Life of Bees. I downloaded this novel as it was the latest Sue Monk Kidd novel. What if? Jesus married. What if? During the lost years between when he was twelve and thirty; he was a normal Jewish young man and fell in love. What if? Jesus married a girl like Ana.This is a fictional story based on Ana not Jesus the son of God but Jesus a young Jewish man. This is not a religious story but historical fiction. I enjoyed the Author’s Notes and how Ms. Kidd did her research and did attempt to adhere to the biblical stories of Jesus’s trial, crucifixion, and burial.Although not my favorite Sue Monk Kidd novel I did like reading this with Easter 2020 right around the corner. Our news has been all about the terrible covid-19 virus and I have to admit I got caught up in it and didn’t do my usual Lenten Easter preparation. However, I sure have been paying a lot more prayers!Want to thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House Viking Group for this early release granted in exchange for an honest review. Publishing Release Date scheduled for April 21, 2020
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  • J.
    January 1, 1970
    It is always interesting to read another authors take on the life of Jesus via those around him. Sue Monk Kidd does an excellent job. Her historical research is always right on. It did seem a bit of a stretch to get the main character into various locations and situations while being true to the social norms of the time but SMK made a valiant attempt. It is fiction, And it is good fiction. I enjoyed the possibilities presented by the story. It is always interesting to read another author’s take on the life of Jesus via those around him. Sue Monk Kidd does an excellent job. Her historical research is always right on. It did seem a bit of a stretch to get the main character into various locations and situations while being true to the social norms of the time but SMK made a valiant attempt. It is fiction, And it is good fiction. I enjoyed the possibilities presented by the story.
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  • Marion
    January 1, 1970
    Sue Monk Kidd does not disappoint in her newest book, The Book of Longings. I was captivated by Ana who became the wife of Jesus and a voice for women. The story lifted my heart with the thoughts of strong women who helped us achieve what we have today.Through Anas eyes and voice we experience how women were treated and why it was so difficult for them to break the bonds that held them. This novel is an ode to all women, may they find the courage to lift their voices.Thank you to NetGalley and Sue Monk Kidd does not disappoint in her newest book, “The Book of Longings.” I was captivated by Ana who became the wife of Jesus and a voice for women. The story lifted my heart with the thoughts of strong women who helped us achieve what we have today.Through Ana’s eyes and voice we experience how women were treated and why it was so difficult for them to break the bonds that held them. This novel is an ode to all women, may they find the courage to lift their voices.Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin for the copy of this ARC eBook.
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  • Marika
    January 1, 1970
    Spectacular historical fiction about Ana, the wife of Jesus. Speculative story of what history would have been like if Jesus was just a man. Sue Monk Kidd empowers women from the past by giving them a voice. * I read an advance copy and was not compensated
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  • Diane Payne
    January 1, 1970
    Sue Monk Kidd wrote an interesting novel by creating a fictional character, Ana, to be the wife of Jesus. No one is certain if Jesus was ever married, something Kidd has pondered for awhile. Ana gives us a glimpse of the dreary and violent lives of women, and lets readers see them as heroines. Of course, Jesus was a saint, and quite the catch in many ways, so Ana was fortunate to marry the man she idolized. Obviously, we know the fate of Jesus, but we don't know about this young Ana or her Sue Monk Kidd wrote an interesting novel by creating a fictional character, Ana, to be the wife of Jesus. No one is certain if Jesus was ever married, something Kidd has pondered for awhile. Ana gives us a glimpse of the dreary and violent lives of women, and lets readers see them as heroines. Of course, Jesus was a saint, and quite the catch in many ways, so Ana was fortunate to marry the man she idolized. Obviously, we know the fate of Jesus, but we don't know about this young Ana or her courageous aunt. We also learn the dynamics of Judas, Ana's brother in this novel. It's quite the family saga.
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  • Heidi Gardner
    January 1, 1970
    This book is predictably well written given its authorship. What I did not expect was to find new connections to a tradition I have all but left behind. The familiarity of the biblical references was comforting after years of avoiding scriptures I studied for so long. I appreciated the research that clearly went into depicting Ana's surroundings. The balance of intimacy and solitude that was portrayed in this woman was solace to a soul that sees culture unwilling to accept both in its stories This book is predictably well written given its authorship. What I did not expect was to find new connections to a tradition I have all but left behind. The familiarity of the biblical references was comforting after years of avoiding scriptures I studied for so long. I appreciated the research that clearly went into depicting Ana's surroundings. The balance of intimacy and solitude that was portrayed in this woman was solace to a soul that sees culture unwilling to accept both in its stories and literature.
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  • Denice
    January 1, 1970
    A unique novel about a Jewish woman, Ana. Told through her voice, I learned about the life of Ana and how she meets and eventually marries a Jewish carpenter, Jesus. I liked how the author blended scripture and fiction to weave a story. It brought to life the people in the Bible and made them seem more realistic. Different subplots kept the story moving. At a fast pace.. With twists and turns. Until The climatic end.ing.
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  • Gail Roberts
    January 1, 1970
    This is beautifully written. A great story imagining if Jesus had a wife. This is the story of Ana, not Jesus, though sometimes they intertwine. As Kidd explains in the author's notes, though, this is Jesus as wholly human. No mention of his divinity, so if you go into it expecting that, you'll miss out. Great read. Ana is a wonderful character.
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