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The Book of Rachael

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  237 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
What if Jesus had a sister? Two thousand years ago, while a young Jewish preacher from Nazareth was gathering followers among the people of Galilee, his ambitious sister Rachael swept floors and dreamed of learning to read. Leslie Cannold brings to life the women of Nazareth in this fascinating story that imagines Rachael as the lover of Judas.
Unknown Binding, 365 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Text Publishing
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This is, unquestionably, the best book I’ve read in ages. As you, my readers, know, I’ve read a lot of terrific books lately, but The Book of Rachael is splendid.

Splendid in its conception, and splendid in its execution, Leslie Cannold’s first novel is an imagined life of the sister of Jesus. Nothing is known of her, not even her name, and to right this wrong that insults all women, Cannold has created a rich and turbulent life, almost as messianic as Jesus’ own.

To read the rest of my review ple
Sarah Mayor Cox
I was hanging out to read this book, and desperately wanting to fall in love with it (because I thought it might be like Anita Diamont's The Red Tent, which the blurb claims 'Is what the Bible would be like if it had been written by a woman'. But I have to say, half way through, although i am really enoying reading it, I am really frustrated by what a revolting character Rachael's mother is - and I can't really figure out why Cannold needs to make her such a fishwife. It's really easy to read, b ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific, truly terrific!
A fantastic story about Jesus' younger sister and the hardship the women at that time endured.
Before you go "Hang on, Jesus had sisters?" it is mentioned in the Bible that he had four brothers (all named) and some sisters, but they are not named or numbered.
Cannold takes the perspective of the youngest child, Rachael, a rebellious and intelligent child who comes up against prejudice and misogyny at every turn.
Rachael's eldest brother, Joshua (Jesus), is a caring carpente
Jun 13, 2012 Carrie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While engaging and certainly a page-turner, "The Book of Rachael" is one that I will not recommend or pick up again. While Cannold's intentions and conceptions may be clear and intriguing, I found her style to be dull, riddled with modern Western cliches, values, and sensibilities. I found the characters, plot and themes were overshadowed by her clear and overwhelming need to portray modern feminist ideas and deconstruct the Biblical Gospel. It is not her portrayal of these things that I find ir ...more
Kim Miller
May 17, 2011 Kim Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-read, favorites
Loooooved it! Never wanted this book to end ... and I think I might be just a holy fool, but baby, it's so cruel, I'm still in love with Judas .. baby ;) Seriously though, beautifully crafted characters and a timeless story made new. A novel that I know i'll read again and remember for days, and maybe weeks to come. I almost don't want to start another novel just so that these characters stay alive in my mind.
Mar 25, 2011 Beth_Adele rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Feminist biblical fiction lovers.
So, biblical fiction that tells the untold story of women, is my kink. I love it. And The Book of Rachel by Leslie Cannold certainly delivered. (And wish we had 1/2 star ratings as well. This should 3 and a half stars.)

The best thing about Cannold's book is not that she gives name and voice to the women of the Bible but that there's such a profound believability to them. Her women are flawed, deeply so, just like real women. Each suffering their own weakness, each revelling in their own strength
Holy Mary Mother of God! This book is bloody brilliant! Take a bible story - hell, not just any bible story, lets take THE Bible Story, and retell it using the voices of those who would otherwise remain mute. Lets take Jesus, for example, and make him a supporting actor in someone else's story - like for example his sister. This is Leslie Cannold's starting premise - and boy does she deliver.

Rachael, Jesus' younger sister (and it's widely accepted that he did have siblings - thanks for that link
Jul 22, 2011 Siegrist rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being so used to reading Leslie Cannold's fiesty but highly analytical writings it was fun to be plunged into the world of her imagination. Still fiesty, but this time historical fiction re-imagining the gospel stories and inventing for Jesus a sister, Rachael.The detail of the world is very compelling - I loved all the little domestic details - as is the narrative itself. It is to Cannold's credit that the she builds the tension so well when it is such a well known story. I imagine it's the sor ...more
Geoffrey Irvin
Sep 09, 2012 Geoffrey Irvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Simply the best historical fiction I have ever read, wonderful detail, historical accuracy, activly unites the cutting edge scholarly research on the persons and politics of the 1st century Romanised holy lands, whilst creating 3 dimensional characters which resonate with modern times. Feminism, social justice, entrenched mediocre patronistic institutions and the explanation of suffering of individual characters all make this an exemplary rendering of the tale of Jesus the Nazarene. A must read ...more
Lisa - (Aussie Girl)
An interesting imagining of what Jesus (called Joshua in this) may have lived through as a man told from the perspective of his sister's life. It may be controversial to some but reading it as a fictional account it was quite enjoyable and provided some intriguing insights especially in detailing the women's contribution to life in a time so long ago.

★★★☆ (3.5 stars)
Alison Condliffe
Sep 26, 2012 Alison Condliffe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal
Fantastic. Really made me rethink and ponder what I had assumed and heard. Recommend to everyone just to get a different viewpoint of jesus. Also enjoyed interpretation of Mary and depiction of household life.
Dec 14, 2011 T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 06, 2016 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up for a few dollars at a used book sale, and started reading it as my "lunchtime book". The premise is that Joshua of Nazareth, who becomes the Christian Saviour Jesus Christ, had a sister named Rachel who was - against all social pressures for her time - a bit of a prodigy and rebel, defying her mother and roster of chores to sit outside the boys' schoolroom and learn to read and write, and later to become a sort of herbal medicine-woman. She also seems to have a gift for la ...more
Michele Perry
Jul 27, 2011 Michele Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now if you start reading this book and get a little confused thinking ‘But I thought this was the story of Jesus' where is the mention of Jesus?’ just hang in there as all will be revealed. Remember that this is a tale about Jesus where he is portrayed as your average guy living in Nazareth, helping his family, falling in love and eventually carrying out the events we know from the bible!

This book is a very interesting read - convincingly portraying the harsh reality of being a women
Jul 23, 2014 Martina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Rachael by Leslie Cannold is well written. Let me just start with that. I have no problem with her writing style – in fact, I would gladly read any other book she’s written. However, I could scarcely get through this one.

Perhaps it’s my Christian upbringing that made me dislike the story. While I like the idea of the age old story being told through the eyes of a sister, I don’t understand the need to change the names of characters. Jesus is Joshua. Judah is Judas, Miriame is Mary, t
Jan 24, 2016 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rachel, religion, women
What if the man you loved betrayed your brother? Two thousand years ago, while a young Jewish preacher from Nazareth was gathering followers among the people of Galilee, his sister swept floors and dreamed of learning to read. In Leslie Cannold 19s story, it is the women of Nazareth who take centre stage. The rebellious, gifted Rachael, consigned by her sex to a life of drudgery. Bindy, the crone who teaches her the skills of the healer. Shona her sister, the victim of a harsh social code, and t ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Rachael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are plenty of good reviews of this book "out there". Read this one (it includes an author profile):

As for my personal journey with this book... I bought it at Watermark books at Sydney airport. I was browsing while waiting for a delayed flight. "Rachael" caught my eye. I don't often see Rachael spelled the way I spell it. Then Leslie Cannold. The Leslie Cannold? Yes.

I'd heard Leslie Cannold speak at TedX in Canberra in 2012. She delivered a thought
Sep 30, 2012 Adair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

There are dangers in attempting to fictionalise such a well-loved story as the life of Christ. First, the resulting account might offend. It might collapse into cliché. Or it might be filled with contemporary sensibilities, creating a world too familiar to our own. Though The Book of Rachael skirts each of these minefields, it is testament to the literary skills of Leslie Cannold that this debut novel avoids them.

Cannold de-mystifies the life of ‘Joshua’ of Nazareth, taking known events and esta
Very disappointing. This was like watching a film about the Wild West that has jet trails in the sky.

Two examples. An old crone stabs someone with a knitting needle, which wasn’t invented until several hundred years later. An old lady says, “they gave him an inch and he took a mile". Where was the editor?

I enjoy good historical fiction and getting a sense of what it might have been like to live in Renaissance Europe or Ancient Rome. This is something else again, a feminist tale wrapped up in so
Brent Davidson
Sep 11, 2011 Brent Davidson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cannold's portrayal of life for women in ancient Galilee is simply superb. The story, whilst strangely familiar because of its Biblical roots, flows magnificently. There are plenty of surprises and twists in the ever-complicated life of Rachael, the sister of maverick Joshua and daughter of Josef and Miriame, as she struggles to comprehend the injustice served upon, and seemingly tolerated, by the women of Nazareth.

But as Rachael falls in love with the charismatic and gorgeous Judah, she begins
Rachael McDiarmid
Apr 25, 2013 Rachael McDiarmid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goodness where do you start? What an interesting, thought-provoking read. It's one that I've wanted to read for a while and now I remember why (apart from our names!). Take away any religious beliefs you have and we presented with the power of storytelling - on a number of levels. To be taken back 2,000 years and the position of women in the society of the time, the religious laws, the community, the health, the situations. It's a cruel time and one that I would not want to live in. We follow th ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Jackie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book transported me to a different time and place. I was there, shyly standing behind Rachael. I was her shadow and her witness, simultaneously cheering her on and worried for her - for her inability to pretend to be what was expected of her as a woman of that place and time.

This is a beautifully written story, it's characters fully fleshed out, flawed individuals.

I fell in love with clever, angry, rebellious Rachael and then fell in love with Judah as seen through her eyes. My heart brok
A brave idea to write a book using Jesus's (Joshua) sister as the narrator. But Cannold delivers in spades. The women and their lives show us how poorly they were treated, what few (no) rights they had and how stoning of adulterers and wearing veils was considered the norm. The women, and the whole story, are so believable. Rachael is feisty, intelligent and wants a chance to break out of a life of cleaning, cooking and giving birth.

The portrayal of Mary may bring criticism as it is Joseph who s
Feb 18, 2012 Rebeccahowden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though it’s generally accepted that Jesus would have had siblings, there has never been anything at all recorded about his sisters. So, Leslie Cannold imagined it instead. Rachael is a wonderful character – brilliant, fiery, passionate and courageous, a girl who loves to learn and wants more from life, and who fights for what she believes in.

I’m not usually one for a historical novel, but the Biblical story is pretty fascinating and the feminist lens through which Cannold frames the story is inc
Apr 15, 2014 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I almost abandoned this book but decided to keep reading because I was intrigued by the concept of reading about Jesus' sister. I loved The Red Tent and loved reading about Biblical times. But I was so turned off by the portrayal of Biblical characters that it made it hard to keep reading. The author changed character's names from what we know them to be, including Jesus' name. Some of what the author did seemed sacrilegious to me-her portrayal of Mary and more. There were also parts of the book ...more
Very interesting concept. Not necessarily a novel I would have picked to read of my own accord, but not a bad one, nonetheless. It seems very well researched, which is essential to any historical fiction, but it also hosts a pantomime of great characters, believable to the point where biblical figures stop being mythical humans and start to take on the shape, emotions and motivations of real people. It makes a nice change to read a novel about biblical figures without it directly preaching to yo ...more
An intelligent and delicate book with broad scope and a worthy mission, most ably executed. Most importantly it doesn’t flatten with sentimentality or romantic notions, while using what is familiar to us all to bring awareness of better options in our personal choices. Likewise it rises above religious sects and sectarianism to present the issues and the facts of choice each individual has within the world they live in.
A pleasure to discover such an able writer on all the issues and aspects of w
May 23, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book! Rachael's story is one of passion, strength and forgiveness. I really hope there was a Rachael who had the same opportunities in her time through a loving and understanding father and husband. I really struggled to put this book down even though I knew some things were coming, from the bible, but I still held my breath in anticipation. There are still surprises and turns in this fabulous story. Not a book to be missed! I will also add that I have never re-read a book nor desir ...more
Apr 22, 2011 Simone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Currently reading this beautifully written and compelling story about a fictitious sister of Jesus of Nazareth, Rachel. According to Cannold, the story was inspired by a documentary exploring the story of historical Jesus which mentioned his brothers but not any sisters. Cannold decided that he may have actually had sisters who were never mentioned because of the low status of women. 'The Book of Rachel' utilises Cannold's research into the period and people as a backdrop to the story of the fic ...more
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“Always there are walls, Rachael, she persisted. Walls that block our path. Too high, too hard. We stop to rest, to gather strength, and before we know it we have lived whole lives in their shade. In time, we cease to even see them there, casting their long shadows, blocking our path. We cease to yearn for the other side.” 2 likes
“I close my eyes and melt in its embrace, basking in the sweetest balm of forgiveness: that for which one need not even ask.” 1 likes
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