...novelist Sue Monk Kidd takes on this high concept challenge and gives it her best. She does her homework many times over in all directions, digging for and finding many details that paint a vivid picture not only of Jesus the man, but the interwoven intricacies of the natural, political and religious world surrounding Jesus prior to his ministry ... he sense of longing that she creates between these two souls as they endure many forced separations bears testament to the novel’s title and makes for an emotional journey ... Anyone who reads this novel will feel the impending doom inherent in this historic tale. So artfully does Kidd involve the reader with the vibrance and passion of Ana, of the hazard she experiences in a man’s world, of her determined persona and her love for Jesus - that by the time she reunites with her beloved after a long absence...there is little to buffer feelings of loss and tragedy and sorrow ... The Book of Longings is well named, well inspired, and well imagined—a superlative effort from a writer at the top of her game.
The Book of Longings is well named, well inspired, and well imagined—a superlative effort from a writer at the top of her game.
... ambitious ... It is clear from the first page that Kidd is courageous in imagining the life of Jesus as a married man. How many authors would take this on? But her painstaking research and artful crafting of setting and character ensures that The Book of Longings is not just an extraordinary novel, but one with lasting power ... Yaltha is indeed a fascinating character, who sees and experiences tragedy but refuses to be victimized ... Kidd’s brilliance shines through on so many levels, but not the least in her masterful, reverential approach to capturing Jesus of Nazareth as a fully human young man in his 20s. One who loves and worships God but also works to support his mother and siblings, and takes a wife whom he loves, respects and nicknames Little Thunder. He is not shocked by or opposed to her rebellious nature or her desire to follow her own longings. Rather, he is drawn to it...The result is an epic masterpiece that is a triumph of insight and storytelling.
Kidd 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.