The Book of Longings
Warning: The premise of THE BOOK OF LONGINGS is that Jesus had a wife. No spoiler, as this is prominent in promotional material, and rightly so. Some readers may find it troubling. If you are one, please skip this book.
If you’re still with me, know that I was drawn to The Book of Longings first by the author’s name. I enjoyed two earlier books of hers, The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings. And I do love this one. I’ve always appreciated historical fiction that goes back so far and reimagines something we’ve heard many times before.
This novel is told from the POV of Ana, said savior’s fictitious wife, and she is a remarkable woman. Captivated by her quickness, her father educates her and teaches her to write. He has no clue about either the hunger or the drive he hs unleashed in her.
Ana is a thinker. She is a feminist, a rebel, a strong woman at a time when women were considered to be one step above the family goat. Ana is desperate to have a voice and be heard. This is her greatest longing. She envisions her writing as her vehicle in this. It is a daunting battle against the norm of the time.
Regarding Jesus, the author knew that she, too, was battling the norm. In a fascinating “Author’s Note” (which I heard in her own voice via the audiobook), she explains her thinking and describes the research she did to slip Ana into the facts of the time as plausibly as possibly.
And she does know what she’s talking about. Sue Monk Kidd is a devout scholar. Her imaginings are presented with the utmost respect.
Her goal is to humanize Jesus. For me, she succeeds. How else to explain the tears in my eyes at the inevitable end?
I loved the descriptions, the characters, and the prose. This is a fabulous book.