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The Book of Longings

Length: 13 hrs and 27 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (125 ratings)

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Summary

'I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.' 

So begins the exquisitely written new novel from the number one New York Times best-selling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

Ana is a rebellious young woman, a gifted writer with a curious, brilliant mind, who writes secret narratives about the neglected and silenced women around her. Raised in a wealthy family in Galilee, she is sheltered from the brutality of Rome's occupation of Israel. Ana is expected to marry an elderly widower to further her father's ambitions, a prospect that horrifies her. A chance encounter with the 18-year-old Jesus changes everything: his ideas and his passion are intoxicating. 

Taking Ana on a journey she could never have imagined, The Book of Longings is a glorious evocation of a time and a place where astounding events unfolded and of one woman's fate when she fights to make her voice heard.

©2020 Sue Monk Kidd (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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Unexpectedly Brilliant

I wasn’t sure that I’d like this book I absolutely loved it Looking at history we all know through a woman’s eyes instead of a mans gives it a whole new meaning Thoroughly enjoyable it keeps to the facts we know but comes from a very different view point making you pause for thought and think what if Keep listening to the authors notes at the end it gives a further new insight Definitely recommend this book and will be listening to it again

7 people found this helpful

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I wanted to be won over

But I was ultimately unconvinced by this picture of life in first century Middle East. Too many inaccuracies and also mispronunciations (in the audio version) Jesus does not seem remotely Jewish and there is little sense of us being in a Greco-Roman world. But it has some nice moments!

5 people found this helpful

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Wonderful book that brought New Testament tunes to life

I really loved this book for the way it brought the times of the Old Testament to life and told some of the ‘lost’ years of Jesus (and her own story) through a fictional character, Anna. I’ve recently read some of the Greek stories retold through female eyes and it so interesting to hear about stories where women often weren’t included in the original narrative from a woman’s viewpoint. In Anna we find a young girl who is 14 when the story begins. She loves learning and writing but is about to be betrothed to an older man against her will. Her voice and writings are in danger of being stifled in the patriarchal society of those times. The streets and ways of places like ancient Galilee, Nazareth and Alexandria are painted in wonderful detail, you can imagine being there amongst the braying crowds ready for a stoning, or in the basic and busy home of Jesus and his family, or the palace of Herod Antipas. The author’s research is meticulous as she explains in her note at the end and it is a thoroughly enjoyable read that makes you look at familiar stories in a new light. The narrator had a clear and engaging tone. Just a few pronunciations that bothered me and I felt should have been checked or researched before being read aloud repeatedly - it really grates, the same as if reading a spelling mistake in a printed book. The Jewish morning prayer the shemah is not pronounced ‘shee mar’, it’s ‘sheh mar’ - the name Chaya, meaning life in Hebrew is pronounced with a hard throaty ‘H’ not a ‘ch’ like ‘cheese’ and the name ‘Tabitha’ isn’t pronounced ‘ Tabeetha’ - this may sound pedantic but when so much work has gone into producing such a detailed account it does seem lazy not to check on pronunciations that could be verified quite quickly and easily - but don’t let it spoil a wonderful and well read book.

2 people found this helpful

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Not as good as Monk Kidd's other novels

I'm usually a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd, but this book was a struggle. The heavy feminist message and the historical setting in the ancient world meant that for me the characters were very one dimensional and underdeveloped. Shame that it didnt work as well as The Invention of Wings, which I loved.

1 person found this helpful

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In praise of completion

This book is one that brings together the whole of the interweaving of the female as well as the male voice. It integrated the human and the divine , mystery with the mundane acts of daily living. To hear it read during this period of lockdown was healing comforting challenging and nourishing in a number of profound ways. The authors note at the end shows the extent of her research as well as a profoundly spiritual encounter with the muse who would be heard. I shall listen to it all over again. Wonderful.

1 person found this helpful

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An excellent combination of history and fiction

Sue Monk Kidd is an author with such amazing attention to detail. Her combination of history, tradition and fiction brings characters to life with a lovely empathy. This is another fascinating story. I highly recommend both this, and The Invention of wings.

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Absorbing

Beautifully narrated, this book captivated and brought to life a new, imagined reality of how things may have been at the time of Jesus. It evokes such a vivid picture of women in ancient society and the abuse of male power against women to keep them small, that still lingers today

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A stunning book

I truly loved this book to the extent that I feel bereft now that I have finished it. Beautifully and sensitively written I would highly recommend.

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A pure triumph of a novel

I loved this book from start to finish. Expertly constructed, wonderful prose and the story spoke to me in so many ways. A perfect blend of spirituality, the feminine story, the power of soul, creativity, ostracism, survival, will and compassion. And so much more! It fed my soul. Thank you Sue Monk Kidd.

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very interesting storyline

gives food for thought. the characters are well described so to be able to visualise them amongst the countries and within the cultures of the time thank you

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  • Sarah Warugongo
  • 07-08-20

Captivating!!!

Absolutely loved the Re-imagination of Anna & how her existence & voice would have impacted our current world. A deep book of longing!!! I also loved her life-changing prayers!!!

1 person found this helpful