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Mary, Called Magdalene

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  6,430 ratings  ·  466 reviews
The New York Times-bestselling author of Elizabeth I brilliantly reimagines the story of the most mysterious woman in the Bible

Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute, a female divinity figure, a church leader, or all of those? Biblical references to her are tantalizingly brief, but we do know that she was the first person to whom the risen Christ appeared—and the one commissioned
Paperback, 630 pages
Published May 27th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Best Historical Fiction
310th out of 5,395 books — 20,889 voters
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Community Reviews

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While this is a fascinating book in terms of the historical details of daily life in the first century, I have to disagree with the review in Publisher's Weekly which states that it "imagines nothing seriously objectionable to even the most devout Christians." That isn't true if one counts Catholics as "devout Christians".

First of all, the book's portrayal of Mary, the Mother of Jesus is problematic for Catholics. It portrays her as joining Jesus' siblings (another problematic interpretation) i
Dec 02, 2007 Neesha rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: bibliophiles
Shelves: contemporary-lit
I truly was disappointed by this book. Fans of the Red Tent will be let down if they decide to read this. First of all, the book is just too dense and the writing is too dry. I know it's dangerous to have too many expectations, but I thought this book was going to bring forward some new twist, a new take on Mary Magdalene's life, and all it did was basically tell the same story from her viewpoint. And a bad job of that, too. The reason I won't give this book one star is because there were some m ...more
I really enjoyed this book - I had it on my bookshelf at home for several years, lonely and untouched. It was on the "to read" list and somehow never made it higher. I had just finished Red Tent and needed something for the train ride - the library was closed - I found this on my shelf. It starts a bit slow, following Mary as a child, and then gets pretty gripping as she becomes possessed by multiple demons. Once she becomes a disciple, I was impressed at how well the author brought the reader i ...more
Theresa Leone Davidson
An excellent novel, mostly fiction because so little historical data exists about the title character, that traces the life of Mary Magdalene, how she became one of Christ's disciples, how integral a part of his movement she was, as evidenced by the fact that she was the first one he showed himself to upon his resurrection, and her life after his crucifixion. Importantly, it leaves out the rubbish about her being a prostitute, an allegation for which there is no historical basis. Margaret George ...more
Margaret George is well-known for her chunkster epics in historical fiction, each focusing on the life tale of one historical figure. Thus far she’s told the stories of the lives of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Kleopatra VII, and Helen of Troy. I’ve only read her works on Henry VIII and Helen of Troy thus far, and thought they were very good and well worth reading. So on the strength of George’s previous books and her skill as an historical fiction author, I decided to read Mary ...more
Ashley W
Mary, Called Magdalene chronicles the life of Mary Magdalene. She's only mentioned about a couple times in the Bible, but that doesn't stop fiction writers from writing numerous books about her. Though this book was a whopping 656 pages long (677 on my Nook), I managed to finish it in a couple of weeks.

I found this book to be a pretty good story of what might have happened. Way better than the Dan Brown Da Vinci Code, at least historically and Biblically. The characters are believable, especiall
I fully expected to love this book, even though I hadn't previously read anything by this author, because biblical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I did thoroughly enjoy the beginning of the book, which dealt with MM's life prior to meeting Jesus, which I felt was imaginative and believable. The parts about Mary's demon posession were especially moving. However, I never really liked George's Jesus. While MM and the other disciples were enthralled by Jesus, I, as the reader, kept wondering, ...more
Well this was certainly an interesting perspective on who Mary Magdalene was... a lot of literary license was taken in developing her background, considering she is only mentioned a small handful of times in the actual Bible... the author did her research well though, and did not jump on the "Mary was Jesus' wife" bandwagon, though the entire 2nd half of the book, which was focused on Jesus' ministry, from start to finish, was portrayed so eloquently, and it actually helped me understand things ...more
J. Else
“A woman. A man. God created both. And he wished both in his Kingdom...It is time people become aware that there is no difference, in God's eyes, between them.” – Jesus

The story was very compelling despite the fact that its length is quite daunting! I enjoyed the details about Jewish holidays and practices as Mary grew up in Magdala. I liked the development of Mary in the book as well as her relationship with Jesus and the other disciples. I enjoyed how viewpoints of the time shed light on how
So I'm not a religious person, and I wasn't all that exited about reading this book, except that I've loved everything else I've read by Margaret George. I know just enough about the Bible to be dangerous and look dangerously stupid...but I was not a fan of this book.

I read it for The Next Best Book Club challenge, and I was glad that I finally read it, because I felt like every time I saw it at the bookstore or the library all 600+ pages were staring at me and judging: "you liked the other Mar
Andreia Silva
Pessoalmente não costumo ler livros bíblicos ou religiosos pela questão da imparcialidade do autor/a. Acabei por ler este de acidente . Tenho de ser honesta e dizer que gostei muito . Tenho a certeza que nunca será um livro muito lido quer seja pela temática , quer seja pelas suas 600 páginas . Faço aqui uma questão , conhecemos mesmo a história de Maria Madalena ? Ou será que temos vindo a ser enganados ?? Quem foi esta mulher na vida de Jesus ? ..
Jan 20, 2008 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in the stories of the Bible and its characters
Loved it. As usual, Margaret George both educates and entertains. I always found reading the actual Bible to be difficult...hard to relate to, hard to even make connections about what was being described and how it happened. Even though this is a fictionalized account, George tells a compelling story that gives the factual portions more significance and meaning (for me, at least) and helped make the New Testament stories more accessible. I found the story SO compelling, that I even got the Bible ...more
For all the promise a book of this scope was, it ended up ultimately being very disappointing. This is not to say that I was offended or found anything blasphemous about the book as a Catholic-Christian. I liked the distinct personalities that George put into the story, though they would all have been better fit into short stories. As a bit of a biblical scholar myself, however, I was dissapointed by the historical inaccuracies of this book- for a book published in the early 2000s I would have e ...more
I’ll admit that this review is going to be fairly biased because I absolutely adore Margaret George’s books ever since picking up a copy of Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles a few years ago. Mary Stuart is one of my favourite historical characters and Ms George captured her character perfectly. Afterwards, I went straight out and bought her first book The Autobiography of Henry VIII but was disappointed. In fact it is the only one of her books that I’ve never finished and I feel it is mainly ...more
Cynthia Haggard
What a wonderful book this is! Margaret George’s MARY, CALLED MAGDALENE is about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and what happened to his disciples after his death.

The book is in three parts. Part One, titled DEMONS tells about the childhood and young adulthood of Mary of Magdala, and how she came to be possessed by demons. Part Two, titled DISCIPLE is the story of the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ. Mary comes in right at the beginning of his ministry when he casts out her demons, an
JG (The Introverted Reader)
This is the story of Mary Magdalene's entire life, from childhood to her death. I enjoyed seeing this controversial historical figure in her own element, with no one sitting in judgment of who she was and her relationship to Jesus. The woman who emerged from these pages was initially very troubled. She was doing her best, but she was literally plagued by demons. She met Jesus when she had given up all hope. He gave her her life back, but her old life didn't want her back. Her family was ashamed ...more
Even though it is fiction (some say the Bible is too though) I feel it's a balanced portrayal of the main story of Jesus and Mary as a witness to it. At first it took a bit to get into and her being possessed was a little far out; however, that is one of the few statements in the Bible about Mary Magdalene. The scenario she endures and how her family reacted to her was a clever way of making it seem somewhat possible in how she decides to become a disciple. I enjoyed the interweaving of the Bibl ...more
Over the centuries, the elusive and mysterious Mary Magdalene has taken on the reputation of being a prostitute, even though nowhere in the Scriptures does it indicate that she was. All we know is that Jesus "cast seven demons from her," but it's anyone's guess what the nature of those "seven demons" were.

Ms. George spins a rich and fascinating story about the life of Mary Magdalene, sparkling with imagination yet believable because of the obvious depth of research that went into writing this bo
Because there is so little recorded in the Bible about women, I particularly loved this historical fiction narration of the life of Mary Magdalene. We do know from biblical record that Mary was the first person to whom the risen Christ appeared. From the first time I read that scriptural account, I wanted to know more about her. I realize that this story is speculation, but I respect Margaret George's careful, thoughtful, detailed research and writing. The story follows Mary from her girlhood on ...more
I really enjoyed this one. It is the retelling of the life of Mary Magdalene. It starts when she is a younger girl and goes throughout her life. Margaret George did a good job of painting the backdrop of what the world was at that time and how Marys life possibly had been. While there were some things in the book I did not think were absolutely correct/ prob did not happen that way, I cant say it took away from my liking of the book overall. Since so little was written about Mary, poetic lic. ha ...more
Carrie Muntean
Having a hard time keeping up with goodreads, but love reading my friends' reviews. Finished this one a while back and found it thought-provoking. Like many similar books, it left me curious how much was based on actual history/known facts (in this case, very little, I would imagine), how much based on logical guesses based on knowledge of the time and places involved, and how much pure author creation. I tend to enjoy Margaret George's books, and this one was no exception. Though long, it was a ...more
Monette Chilson
Astoundingly well-researched. I have been grappling with who Mary Magdalene really was and I am very glad I committed to this book—all 600+ pages of it. In addition to fleshing out the character of Mary Magdalene, it provides a sweeping view of the landscape within which Jesus and his ministry developed, as well as insight into the dynamics that existed among and between the disciples. While the relationship between Mary and Jesus will always be subject to speculation, this biographical novel gi ...more
This is an historical novel and it is more a novel than a history as we don't learn much about Mary, the person, from the Bible. We assume she called Magdala, a city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, home and thus the Mary Magdalene designation. (I learned that the Sea of Galilee is actually a fresh water lake formed from the runoff of springs and by the river Jordan) Mrs. George used the Bible, other source publications and her own ideas of how life was back then to
fill in the blanks. For ins
Thanks to a recent interest in religious studies and in the people of the Torah/Bible, I thought it might be fun to read some historical fiction about Mary Magdalene. It turned out to be as much fun as I imagine Jesus' 40 days in the desert were.

Margaret George really knows her ancient Judaic history, I'll give her that. The book is filled with historical tidbits and goodies, and since many of those goodies happened to be descriptions of food (for which I am a sucker), I was a very happy camper
Cassandra Cantrell
I admit it! I didn't finish the book. Not finishing a book is very not typical of me; however, the historical inaccuracies finally pushed me to the edge beyond reason! The book about Mary more or less is the authors bid for Christ. Jeshua was NOT called Jesus by his family! The name Jesus is one of those translation things that happened. The "seven demons" are not actual demons but in fact a serious poison that scholars believe may have used as an assassination attempt or suicide attempt by Magd ...more
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Morgan Dhu
Unlike the other of George's biographical novels i've reaf, which are grounded in historical fact, well preserved in existing documents, this treatment of Mary of Magdala draws equally on what is known of the times from secular documents, and on Biblical and other religious sources, without any questions concerning the historicity of the latter. George tells a compelling story about the most well-known of Jesus' female disciples, but writes of prophetic dreams and visions, miracles, driving out ...more
Oct 25, 2007 GeekChick rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not many
I was very disappointed in this book. I was hoping for a portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a strong woman. Instead, she is somewhat sniveling, with a bizarre crush on Jesus. "Does he like me?" kind of thing. I stuck it out through the entire book, but it just wasn't what I was expecting, given some of George's other books. I would only recommend it to people who are hardcore about the subject and interested in every portrayal available.
This book made me want to pick up the bible and read through it again with a different approach.
This is one of my favorites and you learn a lot about biblical history too.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as the other Margaret George books. It was a good read but I never really connected to Mary's character.
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Margaret George is a rolling stone who has lived in many places, beginning her traveling at the age of four when her father joined the U.S. diplomatic service and was posted to a consulate in Taiwan. The family traveled on a freighter named after Ulysses' son Telemachus that took thirty days to reach Taiwan, where they spent two years. Following that they lived in Tel Aviv (right after the 1948 wa ...more
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“...Jesus saw the eternal in the everyday. Your last day on earth should be spent as you spent all your others-- doing your daily tasks with love and honesty... An ordinary day is, perhaps, the most holy of all.” 5 likes
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