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Summary

The New York Times Best seller

From the author of the multi-million-copy-selling 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, from the celebrated number one New York Times best-selling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings.

'I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.'

In her mesmerising fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman called Ana.

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

Critic reviews

"Superlative.... From a writer at the top of her game.... A practically perfect historical novel." (New York Journal of Books

"A bold, imaginative reworking." (Sunday Times

"Brilliant.... Brava!" (The Daily Mail

What listeners say about The Book of Longings

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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

10 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!

6 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.

4 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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The power of women and the power of love

I found this a strong and beautiful tale redressing the place of power, fortitude, gifted ness and strength in the archetypal portrayal of women and their capacity for love at many levels.
It's well researched, well imagined and I would recommend this to anyone who is intelligent gifted and respectful of the best in each other. It's also a clear warning about the tacit acceptance of the abuse of power against fifty percent of the population.

2 people 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.

1 person found this helpful

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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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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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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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  • 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

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • miss esther f wainwright
  • 08-04-21

beautiful storytelling

This was compelling tale of a young woman's struggle to be heard in the world. a great historical fiction that was both believable and enjoyable to read. a great concept in which a story previously unheard of is told in all its vibrancy. beautiful language throughout and dialogue to really make you think deep within yourself.

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  • Joel
  • 12-12-20

amazing astonishingly touched my heart deeply.

I needed to hear this story. ehat can I say 40 years of conservative Christianity left me full of fears. I am now a mystic of the league of longing. still in live with the universal Christ.

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  • Dawn Rodgers
  • 11-12-20

I loved this book!

I would like to believe it is a true story. Ana mist definitely has a voice and she needs to be heard by all women.