The Book of Longings
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• Published by Viking, Coming April 21, 2020
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 bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings
In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything.
Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome’s occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history.
Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer at the height of her powers.
Behind the Scenes
Q&A with historical photos from Sue's collection
Readers' Guide/Book Club Kit
A Conversation with Sue Monk Kidd
"Kidd is courageous in imagining the life of Jesus as a married man. How many authors would take this on?...The Book of Longings is not just an extraordinary novel, but one with lasting power...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 20's. ...an epic masterpiece that is a triumph of insight and storytelling."
“A richly imagined first-person narrative...In addition to providing a woman-centered version of New Testament events, Kidd’s novel is also a vibrant portrait of a woman striving to preserve and celebrate women’s stories—her own and countless others.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Historical fiction page-turner... An excellent book club choice...The intensity, bravery, and strength of character of Ana, as imagined by Kidd will inspire readers but in a different way: to live authentically and remain true to oneself."
Library Journal, Starred Review
"Kidd's bold narrative revisionism allows for her protagonist to be in every respect the equal of her husband while posing this question: How would Western culture be different if men and women had grown in appreciation of each other's spirit?"
"Sue Monk Kidd believes writing is an act of courage. In "The Book of Longings," she rises to the occasion."
The New York Times: Inside the List
“Kidd’s narrative, etched into the emotionally precise and tactile prose of Ana’s first-person voice . . . is not an attempt to rewrite history. Instead it’s an exploration of a triumphant, fierce spirit and the stories she aches to tell. There’s an exuberance to Ana that vibrates off every page, and that is a testament to Kidd’s gifts.”
"I kept having to close this novel and breathe deeply, again and again. A radical reimagining of the New Testament that reflects on women's longing and silencing and silencing and awakening, it is a true masterpiece."
Glennon Doyle, Untamed
I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth. I called him Beloved and he, laughing, called me Little Thunder. He said he heard rumblings inside me while I slept, a sound like thunder from far over the Nahal Zippori valley or even farther beyond the Jordan. I don’t doubt he heard something. All my life, longings lived inside me, rising up like nocturnes to wail and sing through the night. That my husband bent his heart to mine on our thin straw mat and listened was the kindness I most loved in him. What he heard was my life begging to be born.