Hey Guys! My name is Max and I will be manufacturing a book review for a novel called The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd today. A very big thank you to Times.Read for sending a copy of this book to me. Well, without further ado, let us get into the review!
“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.”
Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.
Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humour and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus’s public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.
I did not know what to expect when I started reading this novel because all I knew about this book was that it follows the perspective of Jesus’s Wife and colour me surprised when I fell in love with the novel. The content of this novel still stuck with me after a week of finishing it and I have a feeling that it would cling to me for a long time.
If the synopsis confuses you, don’t worry, I am here to assist you. So, this novel is about Ana who is the wife of Jesus and it follows her life from 16 CE to 60 CE. Ana is a girl who loves writing and reading and her mom disapproves of her passions. Her parents then tried to marry her off to some farmer, hoping to gain a piece of land even though they are rich as hell. Her resistance to the marriage to safeguard her passions shows how strong of a person she is. Everything occurs from then on. I am trying to give you as little information as possible because I am trying not to spoil the novel but some of the quotes below might spoil the novel but it is minimal so don’t worry.
“I’ve heard these reasons tenfold. Traipsing about the countryside exposes us to dangers and hardships. We cause dissension among the men. We are temptations. We are distractions. It’s thought we’re too weak to face dangers and hardship. But do we not give birth? Do we not work day and night? Are we not ordered about and silenced? What are robbers and rainstorm compared to these things”
The writing style of this novel is fucking phenomenal. It is lyrical, poetic and daring. The wordplay in this novel is so beautifully crafted that it makes me want to pick up the author’s other works just to see if I would like it as much as the rest of the books in her catalogue. The only problem I have with the writing style is that the author uses a lot of the word – shit – in her writing and correct me if I am wrong but the word – shit – is not used in the 16th BC so… I am confused? Either way, her writing style is still phenomenal and this novel definitely shows where her strength lies. Oh, I almost forgot, you can visualize everything the author has written on the page clearly in your head.
This novel is definitely well-paced. It does not linger too long or too short on each scene that the author has set out to craft. However, I thought the third act suffered as the pace has quickened and there are also some unresolved questions that the author has presented but not answered by the end of the novel. Other than that, I thought the pacing was astonishing.
There are a few important characters in this novel that I would like to share with you and those are Ana, Yaltha, and Tabitha. Ana is headstrong and she is such a feminist and I love that about her. She fights for what is right and she speaks her mind and does not flinch back in the face of adversity. In addition, she writes stories of women who had gone through terrible things to preserve their stories so it will not get lost in history. Her character growth throughout the novel was phenomenal. Every time she is beaten down by terrible men in the novel, she comes back up stronger and smarter. Ana is definitely going to be a figure that will remain in my mind for a long time. Yaltha is Ana’s aunt and she is headstrong like Ana but she hides a secret that will change the course of the event in the novel. Her growth throughout the novel is phenomenal too because we see her vulnerable side as much as we see her strong side. Tabitha has one of the saddest storylines in this novel and I will show you some quotes to give you a glimpse of her story below but just know that I love her.
“She’d misunderstood me I wasn’t wondering why Tabitha shouted her outrage on the street. I was glad she accused her rapist. What I didn’t understand was why such horrors happened at all. Why did men inflict these atrocities? I wiped my face with my sleeve. Through my shock, I pictured Tabitha on the first day of her renewed visits when I’d been rude to her. My father says my mind is weak, and my tongue, weaker, she’d told me then. It seemed now her tongue was not weak, but the fiercest part of her.” (part 1/3)
“Mother, however, was not done rebuking her. “It wasn’t enough that she made a show of cursing the soldier, she cursed her father for trying to seal her lips. She cursed those who passed by and closed their ears to her. She was distraught, and I’m sorry for her, but she shamed herself. She brought dishonour to her father and to her betrothed, who will surely divorce her now.” (part 2/3)
“Rage shredded my breath. It clawed straight through my chest. “What crime did your daughter commit to cause her father to cut her tongue from her mouth? Is it a sin to stand on the street and cry out one’s anguish and beg for justice?” “She brought shame on her father and this house!” her mother viciously exclaimed. “Her punishment is spoken of in Scripture the perverse tongue shall be cut out.” (part 3/3)
The feminism theme in this novel is done ten times better than it did in Blue Ticket By Sophie Mackintosh because it captivates the women living in the 16th BC and how Ana goes against the stereotype and tries to change the views of the women and the men in this novel. This novel has so many sexist imageries and it infuriates me how all these men treat women at that time, as objects of desire and nothing more. Some of the women are sexist against their own sex as well which is just… *sighs*. Sexism is still ever-present in the world we live in today and it seems we have not learned from the mistakes of our ancestors and it is time to change as this has been going on for far too long.
In conclusion, my final verdict for this novel would be 95% (A+). I enjoyed the themes presented in this novel and how impactful and powerful these characters when they looked into the face of the atrocity that is the world they lived in. So, do pick this book up during your free time!
This is the end of my review for The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd! I hope you all enjoyed it and follow me with your email/Wordpress account to get notifications when I post a new article! Bye!