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Mary, Called Magdalene

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  8,183 ratings  ·  594 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth I reveals the untold story of Mary Magdalene--a disciple of Jesus Christ and 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
Paperback, 630 pages
Published May 27th 2003 by Berkley Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  8,183 ratings  ·  594 reviews

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May 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
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

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
Theresa Leone Davidson
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I would think writing historical fiction would be difficult enough, but writing historical fiction based on a biblical female subject would be near impossible; however, Margaret George has done just that! Using extensive biblical and secular research, she has made Mary Magdalene come to life, even though she is only mentioned in the New Testament a handful of times. George's tasteful, fictionalized account of Mary as a girl, a young wife and mother, a disciple of Jesus's, and finally an apostle ...more
J. Else
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
“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
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I can’t say that I enjoyed this book. It was a struggle to finish it. I bought it years ago and had finally gotten around to reading it. While I was reading it, I was wondering “What was I thinking when I bought this?” I had a mild curiosity about Mary Magdalene, but not over 600 pages worth! The book, although told from Mary’s perspective and mainly about Mary, deals a lot with Jesus’ ministry and the birth of Christianity. This is not a subject that interests me at all, so I skimmed through a ...more
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
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
I listened to the first recording of this in 2003 and would certainly recommend Kate Reading's narration from 2013. In an author's note George explains how she used available sources to expand Mary's story; she places her in a prosperous Jewish family involved in the fishing trade in Magdala. On a journey to Jerusalem, the young Mary finds an small idol; she admires its beauty and secretly keeps it. This becomes the source of the demons which beset her and which are finally exorcised by Jesus. S ...more
I can't say I totally agree with this interpretation, but it was a joy and a beauty to read. Utterly engrossing from start to finish - no small feat for a 600-page novel.

I would die for Mary Magdalene

4.5 stars
Jul 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: margaret-george
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
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Mary K.
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites, more due to the memories it evokes from my first reading, though it is a beautiful unfolding. In times of stress I find myself being called back to it as the re-reading of it calms and reassures me.
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
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Monette Chilson
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am very drawn to Mary Magdalen and have been reading as many sources as possible about her. This book was very well written but for some reason I struggled to actually finish it...hmmm...note to self: figure out what that was about! Xx
Enjoyed this one but it wasn't my favorite by Margaret George. Giving away as clearing my bookshelves for a move.
Beverly Diehl
This fictionalized take on the life of Mary of Magdala is not the most explosive take on her possible role in the story of Jesus of Nazareth. Sticks pretty close to the Biblical tales; in this version, she was NOT his wife, but was one of the disciples who traveled around with him. In a way, that is somewhat controversial, the idea that some of those who traveled with Jesus and cast out demons in his name were women like Mary, Joanna, Susannah, at a time when women were supposed to be home makin ...more
Thomas West III
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review was originally published at Queerly Different

Since finishing The Confessions of the Young Nero, the most recent literary outing from historical fiction author Margaret George, I’ve found myself possessed of the desire to re-read her entire oeuvre, beginning with the two novels of hers that I haven’t read. So, I started with Mary, Called Magdalene .

In another life, I was passionately interested in the history of early Christianity, and I even entertained the notion of pursuing gradua
Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer)
I avoided this book forever because of its religious content, and in doing so, deprived myself of a beautiful story. Margaret George spun a beautiful tale of a fascinating woman and her journey before, during and after Jesus.
I had a love/hate relationship with this book. On the one hand I loved it because it made the time period of history come alive, Jesus became a person to me (as opposed to a fantasy figure) and Mary and the other apostles did as well. I loved the descriptions of daily life, the dialogue and the history in plain English. Now for the hate part. The author got very repetitive and long winded. Every time that Jesus and his followers moved from town to town there were paragraphs and paragraphs descri ...more
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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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