The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
On recommendation from a friend with superb literary tastes I read The Book of Longings, and I am so glad I did. It is a remarkable narrative with just the hint of the possibility of it being all too historically accurate.
The book sets out the story of Ana, the wife of Jesus of Nazareth, outlining the way in which women were treated at the time. We hear, from the mouth of Ana, a gifted and talented writer, poet and person of intellect, how for most people she was simply something to be married off for financial gain (by her father), treated as an object of sexual desire (by the ruler, Herod Antipas), or controlled and regulated (by the male members of her husband’s family). It is a story of resistance and triumph, even in the face of personal tragedy, of a woman seeking to live a life that is decided by herself and her gifts rather than societal expectations.
Although the story features the person of Jesus and others with whom we are familiar from the Scriptures, this is very much Ana’s story, a story of her longings for something other than what others of her sex could come to expect of ‘their lot’. It is thoroughly enjoyable, thoroughly believable, and thoroughly plausible in terms of the greater narrative.
Yet I found that despite the greater intrigue of the story of Jesus of Nazareth, this book was mostly about Ana, and her life and her struggles, to be a voice that would resonate for the times yet to come. Her experiences as Ana seeks this longed-for life is moving, and the turmoil experienced by Ana across her life is readily accessible from the pages of her story.
Thoroughly enjoyable, and thoroughly recommended.
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