PositiveThe Christian Science MonitorKidd pulls off the challenging feat of keeping Ana’s story uppermost. Other novelists have imagined the human side of Jesus, and some have envisioned him as married. But no other writer has fleshed out a partner who can stand on her own, who is intellectually and spiritually well matched with Jesus ... Many readers may wonder why Kidd skipped over the marvelous acts that Jesus is recorded as having performed. By emphasizing a Jesus who was, as yet, unsure of his path, Kidd gives Ana space to discover her own ... Kidd’s research into first-century Jewish life, along with her vivid descriptions of the villages and terrain, make Ana’s story come alive.
PositiveThe Christian Science MonitorCarroll, as religious historian and church insider, goes into a fair amount of ecclesiastical detail about the 12th century, which will fascinate some readers and send others skimming to the end of the chapter. But he keeps the action moving along ... Carroll is at his best in the last few chapters, when he explores each of his characters’ feelings of culpability for the tragedies that they knowingly, and unknowingly, set in motion ... the challenge is how to move forward, fully conscious of the hurts they’ve inflicted, but not seeking a facile or temporary forgiveness. Here in the braiding together of the three stories, past and present, Carroll shows that for his characters, and indeed for all of us, the greatest wisdom may lie in forgiving oneself.
PositiveThe Christian Science Monitor\"Varina can be read on a number of levels. Many people will enjoy the tale of a whip-smart and sharp-witted woman who nearly outran federal bounty hunters after the fall of Richmond. Others will be fascinated by the story of the difficult marriage between these two strong-willed people. On a more subtle level Varina can be seen as a reminder that a national reckoning over the legacy of slavery has yet to take place ... Varina is a challenging novel and, while not as readily appealing and as flowingly written as Cold Mountain, it provokes thought and encourages reflection on one of the most difficult issues of our time.\
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorA Long Way From Home starts off in a highly entertaining vein and then morphs into something altogether darker and more introspective ... Carey demonstrates an extraordinary ear for language and the ability to capture his characters’ styles of speech. His writing is studded with Aussie slang that takes a few chapters to get used to, but his evocative descriptions of the outback need no translation. He’s created characters whose quirks and peccadillos make them both lovable and flawed until suddenly, the narrative thrusts them into a different story altogether. Carey’s gift is that readers are willing to follow him on this journey of self-discovery, cleverly disguised as a road trip.