21 Jun / The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd [in Booklist]
To begin at the end seems most fitting: “If Jesus actually did have a wife … then she would be the most silenced woman in history and the woman most in need of a voice,” bestselling Sue Monk Kidd (The Invention of Wings, 2014) writes – and reads – her ending author’s note. “I’ve tried to give her one here,” Kidd promises.
That voice is appropriately entrusted to mellifluous and nuanced Mozhan Marnò, who navigates Ana’s tumultuous life as “a woman with her own quest.” Privileged with a rare education, mentored by a widowed aunt from Egypt, teenage Ana still cannot escape society’s demands forced on a nubile daughter of a powerful family. She’s betrothed to a despicable older man who dies, then bartered as concubine to a vicious ruler. She escapes to marry Jesus of Nazareth, but their passionate union is curtailed by his spiritual calling while she must escape to Alexandria with her aunt Yaltha to avoid capture.
Held virtual prisoner by her uncle – their only option for shelter – the two women manage near-miracles of survival. Distance never lessens Ana’s love for Jesus … nor her concerned devotion for her rebel brother Judas – yes, that Judas – blinded by his hatred of Rome. Decades after her own widowhood, Ana continues to bear witness while Marnò ensures Ana’s herstories should be well heard.
Review: “Media,” Booklist, June 1, 2020