I love Sue Monk Kidd. I have been reading her books since 1996 when she published Dance of the Dissident Daughter. She quickly became one of my favourite authors. The Book of Longings was one of my most anticipated books being published in 2020, and I devoured it.
The concept of the book is interesting: What if Jesus had a wife? Who would she be? This is a retelling of Jesus' life, but it's really the story of Ana. I loved this concept. I loved the story. I loved the writing. The prose are beautiful and rhythmic. Sue Monk Kidd, uses well known gospel stories to create and flesh out Jesus' life. A life which we know very little about from the age of 12 to the beginning of his ministry.
Jesus, however, is not the main character. The focus is Ana and the book is told from Ana's perspective. That is what makes this book brilliant. Ana is an intelligent, bold, and rebellious teenager when we first meet her. She lives in a society where women are left behind, silenced and have rules about what they can and cannot do. Ana pushes at the edges of these rules as she wants to be a scribe. She does not want to be betrothed to the older man her father has arranged for her to marry.
Strong women and female relationships is a given in all of Sue Monk Kidd's novels so it's no surprise that Ana is a strong woman surrounded by other strong women. One of my favourites is her aunt Yaltha, another well developed character who helps Ana navigate the world as a woman who has ambitions and dreams that are not accepted.
You do not have to be religious or Christian to read and enjoy this book. The story can stand on its own. If you do know the gospel stories, then you might be surprised that you already know Ana and Ana's brother. I cannot say enough about how much I loved the way Sue Monk Kidd wove Ana's life and Jesus' life together while being respectful of scriptures.
The Book of Longings is to the Gospels what The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is to the Torah. The Red Tent is one of my all time favourite books and The Book of Longings will be joining the "favourites shelf" too. Both books give women a voice where there is barely a whisper. Sue Monk Kidd, gives Ana a voice that allows women to imagine themselves as part of a story, in a way that they couldn't before. I highly recommend checking it out.
Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛