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The Book of Longings

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  81 ratings  ·  40 reviews
“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.” So begins the new novel from the number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings, an extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny in a time of great despair and great hope.

In her fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd brings her acclaimed
Hardcover, 432 pages
Expected publication: April 21st 2020 by Viking
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Ellen Not at all. It's about a young woman during Jesus's time who wants to be a scribe, like her father, and the obstacles that are in the way of her…moreNot at all. It's about a young woman during Jesus's time who wants to be a scribe, like her father, and the obstacles that are in the way of her achieving this goal. I'm loving it after and am about halfway through it.(less)

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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
While this novel contains the historical rather than theological Jesus as a character, it is really the story of his fictional wife, Ana. It is widely believed that during the “lost years” of Jesus he worked as carpenter in Sepphoris rather than Nazareth and Ana meets Jesus during this time. The first part of the novel is a bit slow to start but nicely introduces Ana as a feminist with an aching need to read and most importantly to write. Jesus and Ana marry and eventually part as Jesus follows ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus of Nazareth. I am a voice.”

I loved The Invention Of Wings and I will admit to being a lil skeptical about the subject of this novel being about Jesus. I’m so glad I didn’t let that deter me from giving this a chance. I was expecting biblical Jesus, however, Kidd came at this novel from a totally human perspective. Through his wife’s voice. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the concept of Jesus having a wife this novel tells how it is entirely
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was a little skeptical going into this book, mainly because I consider myself a fairly devout Christian. While I am extremely open to interpretations and opposing beliefs, I thought this book would offend rather than inspire. I am so glad that I ignored my reservations and finished the book. This was definitely one of the most delicately explored historical fiction books I have ever read. Sue Monk Kidd explains herself that, while she was extremely careful to perform the necessary research and ...more
Jillian Doherty
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was both curious about this captivating story, and curious if the read would be as good as hoped with such a momentous premise... it does!

Well researched and easy to enjoy; the narrative voice with fully realized, provocative characters become an immersive human story - plus it has a killer first line: "I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus."

Ana's voice is strong, assured, and intoxicating - filled with rich, evocative power, as compelling as her previous titles, yet even more literary and
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
4.5 stars

"A man's holy of holies contains God's laws, but inside a woman's there are only longings." *

Young Ana has been raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris; her father, Matthias, is the head scribe to the ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas. Her mother, a beauty from a poor family, is cold and calculating. Her adopted brother, Judas, fueled by his hatred of Rome for the loss of his parents, has left home to become part of a revolt to overthrow their power.

Ana is restless and daring, learning to
JS is Reading
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this in a couple cozy sittings over the holidays - it struck me as I read it that I hadn't read a book like this in a long time - a true, traditional, storytelling experience, this book is mythic and intimate, joyful and painful - it really reads like an instant classic. Unnlike a lot of books I read that feel half formed or not fully cooked - this book felt like it just exists - not that it was written or attached to any author - it stands totally on its own and that is a rare thing in ...more
Claudia Silk
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you have been waiting for a book like THE RED TENT for the past 20 years this is it. Ana is Jesus’ wife and a force in her own right. Monk does not come across sensational in her writing about a fictional marriage for Jesus but rather goes into great historical detail of the time and what it would be like to be a woman. Loved this book.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While reading the first sentence of The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd, I knew this was going to be an experience. One just knows when you are reading an author of incredible talent! This story of Ana, The wife of Jesus, is fantastic and fantastical. I was so completely swept up in the story, I couldn’t put the book down. From the misfortune that she had to endure with her parents, to watching her friend Tabitha suffer, to her father planning on giving her away for another mans’ pleasure and ...more
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much! The imagined life of the wife of Jesus is mesmerizing. It is a respectful portrayal yet provocative for sure. I hasten to add that this is Ana’s story, not just some flimsy attempt to capitalize on the fact that she became the wife of Jesus. Very well done and the author’s notes adds a bit of background.

Thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
Nancy Mijangos
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is based upon a possible wife of Jesus Christ. The storyline is written respectfully and I feel that Jesus's character remains Christlike. The manner in which women were devalued in that time period is shocking, but realistic. Ana is a strong woman, a loving wife, and a gifted writer. She loves Jesus, but she also has dreams and aspirations for herself.

This would make a great discussion novel for a
Sally Stieglitz
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I am of two minds about this book. It is divided into sections based on divisions in the character's life and her location. The first one, in which she is a young woman (teens), I found pretty dismal. The language felt stilted, although that was probably an attempt to give a historical feel. However, to people living in any time, their language is natural and this device felt like artifice and a barrier to embracing the narrator's reality. Most characters were introduced without much nuance- ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
So beautiful. Has the potential to be trite, but avoids every (or at least almost every) pitfall. The Red Tent with more star power, but also with less of the deep, feminist earthiness I loved in that book. If this book had existed when I was a teenager I would have spent at least several weeks after reading nursing a very big crush on Jesus.

"It was true I no longer believed in the god of rescue, only the god of presence..."
Gail Roberts
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This is beautifully written. A great story imagining if Jesus had a wife. This is the story of Ana, not Jesus, though sometimes they intertwine. As Kidd explains in the author's notes, though, this is Jesus as wholly human. No mention of his divinity, so if you go into it expecting that, you'll miss out. Great read. Ana is a wonderful character.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book imagines the story of Ana, the wife of Jesus and the sister of Judas. It fills in those missing years from before Jesus began his ministry. Ana is educated and a scribe. This is a book of women - what they must endure and their place in society. I loved. it.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A unique novel about a Jewish woman, Ana. Told through her voice, I learned about the life of Ana and how she meets and eventually marries a Jewish carpenter, Jesus. I liked how the author blended scripture and fiction to weave a story. It brought to life the people in the Bible and made them seem more realistic.

Different subplots kept the story moving. At a fast pace.. With twists and turns. Until The climatic
Heidi Gardner
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is predictably well written given its authorship. What I did not expect was to find new connections to a tradition I have all but left behind. The familiarity of the biblical references was comforting after years of avoiding scriptures I studied for so long. I appreciated the research that clearly went into depicting Ana's surroundings. The balance of intimacy and solitude that was portrayed in this woman was solace to a soul that sees culture unwilling to accept both in its stories ...more
Diane Payne
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sue Monk Kidd wrote an interesting novel by creating a fictional character, Ana, to be the wife of Jesus. No one is certain if Jesus was ever married, something Kidd has pondered for awhile. Ana gives us a glimpse of the dreary and violent lives of women, and lets readers see them as heroines. Of course, Jesus was a saint, and quite the catch in many ways, so Ana was fortunate to marry the man she idolized. Obviously, we know the fate of Jesus, but we don't know about this young Ana or her ...more
Candace Worrell
This was one of the most amazing books that I've ever read.

I was anticipating a novel about how Jesus' wife bickered with the disciples and that's why they wrote her out of history. In fact, that preconception put me off the novel for a bit because I felt like that story has been told already. This wasn't that at all.

Ana was a Jewish woman who fought with her desire to be a voice--to create art and have an impact on the world beyond the domestic realm. Her relationship with Jesus was a
Laura Hill
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Penguin Group Viking and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on April 21st, 2020.

A dramatic and fiercely feminist bit of historical fiction. Sue Monk Kidd inserts a remarkable character into the life of Jesus Christ — a wife named Ana. This is Ana’s story, however, not his. From childhood, the secret longing of this determined and deeply intelligent girl has been to have a Voice. Beginning with writing the
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Longings is a re-imagining of the life of Jesus. What if Jesus had married? How different would his life have been? There is nothing in the new testament that explicitly states he was single - in fact marriage and a family would have been the duty of a man at that time, so is it not mentioned simply because it was assumed to be so? To have not been married would surely be the exception that would have required an explanation.

And if she existed, the wife of Jesus must then be the most
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Longings is the story of Ana, wife of Jesus. Through meticulous research and attention to historic detail, Sue Monk Kidd gives us an expertly imagined and crafted story of what might have been if Jesus had been married. Ana is young, impetuous, intelligent and bound by the conventions of the first century that rankle and strangle her youthful spirit. She wishes to learn, to write, to find her most authentic voice and be whom SHE would like to be. Her expectations far outreach the ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I just read an ARC of Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. At first I didn’t how I felt about a book centered on the premise that Jesus was married. This is Ana’s story. And Kidd’s impeccable research detailed in her Author’s Notes makes for a fascinating read. We meet Ana as a 14 year old girl whose father has given her the unusual privileges of a tutor, fluency in languages and a longing for a “voice”. These “gifts” make her life both difficult and dangerous. It’s also a fascinating look at the ...more
Kim McGee
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story of what might have been - historical fiction about a great love, a spiritual calling and politics. Before Jesus was proclaimed the Messiah, he was a quiet carpenter, fisherman or anything else that would put food on the table for his family and he was in love with a fiercely independent scholar named Ana. This is their imagined life. Ana is portrayed as one of the first feminists who bucked tradition and had a formal education and wrote. She had a voice, she needed to be heard ...more
vicki honeyman
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The first sentence: "I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth." What a way to grab your readers' attention! I appreciated spending time with Ana and the women who surrounded her. It's entirely possible there were outspoken and independent women like Ana in the first century. I was fascinated by the premise of the book: would the Western world have been a different place if Jesus had had a wife like Ana.....or just if Jesus had had a wife? After being sucked into the first ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Book of Longings creates the unknown years of Jesus' life and his probable wife (Ana). She is scholarly, defiant, and above all loyal to her purpose. She never gives up on her own campaign in a time where women were only thought to have but one true purpose. Her story begins betrothed at the age of 14. She seeks out her will and she runs from despair. It's a story of true human love and the mission to fulfill one's life and leave your legacy. I enjoyed this tale and the relationships she ...more
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
For even attempting a novel about the wife of Jesus, I give the author 5 stars. That she managed to write it believably, compassionately, with an historically accurate setting and a realistic portrayal of the life of women at that time is amazing. Obviously Jesus is part of her narrative but his wife, Ana, is really the main character around whom the story revolves. She has written a great book, one that inspires reflection and brings life to a 2000 year old story.

Big thanks to NetGalley and
Fiona Lansdown
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I nearly put this book straight back down when I read it was about the wife of Jesus- but as a Sue Monk Kidd fan I thought I should give it a go. And I am so glad I did. This book fully absorbed me, and I found the voice of Ana so believable as a woman whose ‘longings’ were so hard to fulfil in the 1st century. It made me so grateful that as a woman today I can do and say what I want, and do not need to be a possession of a man. I also found the portrayal of Jesus as a real man - with a family, ...more
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. If you had asked my level of interest in reading biblical fiction I would have said it was virtually nonexistent. But still, the description of The Book of Longings book caught my interest and I'm so glad I read it. Sue Monk Kidd did a beautiful job telling the story of Ana, the imagined wife of Jesus. The book is full of strong and powerful women who lived in a time where women were largely overlooked and always undervalued. The female characters ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Well written, provocative, yet in essence a simple story. The writing was quite good, the pacing was quite slow for the first third, but overall a good story. I just....was not a fan of the protagonist. I am very picky with my historical female characters and found Ana to be too much of a reach for a modern feminist type character. I found her fire and will to be remarkable, but very unrealistic for her age in the beginning. It was very interesting to read of a fully human Jesus, yet I confess ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book will be talked about when it is released, no doubt. There’s plenty of book club fodder within its pages. You know the story of Jesus, but do you know his wife? What a subject matter to tackle! Based mostly on what life would have been like at the time for men, for women, for families and society, Sue Monk Kidd makes a case for Jesus taking a wife and why history would have forgotten her.
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SUE MONK KIDD was raised in the small town of Sylvester, Georgia. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 1970 and later took creative writing courses at Emory University, as well as studying at Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and other writers’ conferences. In her forties, Kidd turned her attention to writing fiction, winning the South Carolina Fellowship in Literature and the 1996 Poets &