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All booksHistorical fictionThe Book of Longings
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
Historical fiction

The Book of Longings

by Sue Monk Kidd

Quick take

A not-so-religious reimagining of Jesus' life that beautifully tackles the question: What if he had a feminist wife?

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    Feminist

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    Famous author

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    Quest

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    Writer's life

Why I love it

Glennon Doyle
Author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed

Sue Monk Kidd, the brilliant, beloved storyteller who gifted us with The Secret Life of Bees, has done it again. Her most recent treasure, The Book of Longings, is the first book that has literally taken my breath away. As I read, I had to close it and breathe deeply, again and again.

Both a radical reimagining of the New Testament, and an homage to all untamed, trespassing women, The Book of Longings is right on time for this moment. The book tells the story of Ana—a brave and ambitious woman who rails against her repressive society, fighting to express herself and realize her full potential. As the daughter of a wealthy politician, Ana is expected to marry a man chosen for her, and not the penniless carpenter named Jesus she meets in a chance encounter. What follows is a stunning and universal portrayal of women’s longing, silencing, and awakening.

I read The Book of Longings right after my own book Untamed made its way into the world, and found Ana of Sue Monk Kidd's masterpiece to be a breathtakingly untamed woman. I will carry The Book of Longings in my heart forever, because it reflects what was always there. I invite every trespassing woman to find her own journey in Ana's story—and to finish this novel mesmerized, encouraged, and emboldened.

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Synopsis

Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.

Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus' public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.

Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’ life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring 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.

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Preview

Get an early look from the first pages of The Book of Longings.

Member thoughts

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15032 ratings
  • 68% Love
  • 26% Like
  • 4% Dislike
  • Denver, CO

    Wow! What powerful writing. I loved all this historical references but loved them especially with a feminist perspective. Ana is a fierce protagonist who I deeply connected with. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Baltimore, MD

    The writing is beautiful and if you can suspend your belief... just like with Harry Potter ... you’ll find this story to be just as engaging. A nice “what- if” to one of the world’s best known stories

  • Harleysvile, PA

    Astonished by how much I loved this book. The telling of jesus’ life and the beginning of christianity from a woman’s perspective was such a fresh interesting idea. I’d listen to Ana’s story ten times

  • Owatonna, MN

    It’s not too often that I say a book changed my perspective — this one did. Easily one of my “Top 5” in the past year. Beautifully written, meticulously researched, and unabashedly feminist. Read it!

  • Pinehurst, NC

    Outstanding! Ana is exactly what I would’ve imagined. I feel positive that Jesus had a ‘love interest’ & that the written words of women were destroyed by men whenever discovered through out history.

  • Eagan, MN

    Ana’s story left me breathless. Her voice spoke so clearly it was as if she were sitting next to me– I was deeply moved by her story and the stories of the bible’s forgotten women. I wanted more of it

  • Coopersburg, PA

    At first it felt almost wrong to read a fictional account of Jesus’ life, but the storytelling was beautiful and the research and care that went into the story were evident. I’ll remember Ana’s voice.

  • Lake Jackson, TX

    This is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. What a unique & creative perspective to see the world through this main character. I’m impressed, I want to read everything she’s written before!

  • Brown Deer, WI

    I LOVED this book. It was a slower start for me, but there was a point halfqay theough where I couldn't put it down. Thought-provoking and beautifully written, it has changed something in me for the better

  • Ceres, CA

    Excellent read! Don’t get it expecting to read about Jesus because you’ll be disappointed. Female all the way! The main character has so much depth and passion. You’ll root for her the entire book!

  • Temple Hills , MD

    This book is so beautiful! I finished this book in a day & a half and by the end I was in tears. I appreciate Sue Monk Kidd’s attention to detail, and the author’s note proved her dedication. Read it!

  • Lonedell, MO

    2020 BOTY. Im calling it. Best book I’ve read this year, and thats remarkable with how many great ones I’ve loved. I love Ana, and how human her and Jesus are. I love her struggles and the story line.

  • Lake Forest, CA

    Sue Monk Kidd crafts an empowering tale of women ahead of their time. Although a controversial premise— Jesus has a wife— the author does not dishonor but humanizes Jesus through a worthy protagonist.

  • Shillington, PA

    Knew it had to end but, didn’t want it to. Loved characters, historical period, religious connection. Details were compelling. Left me with so much to think about. But, that’s what this author does

  • Nashville, TN

    Such a beautiful book! I love the way SMK weaves such a vivid and historically accurate picture of what Jesus might have been like to know as a man. And Ana is a woman I would've wanted for a friend❤️

  • Verona, PA

    I was a bit hesitant to read this book initially because of who the characters were. However, it makes you feel closer and personable about these people Christians have been taught at an early age. ❤️

  • Evanston, IL

    I was wary of this book being too religious and it shattered any perceptions I had. Ana’s voice is beautiful. The writing is vivid, heartbreaking, and powerful. I’ll think about this book for a while.

  • New York City, NY

    This book went on a journey, and although fiction I felt so much of this could have happend. However, I felt it unrealistic that Ana did not know anything of Jesus’ preachings, that’s my one complaint

  • Houston, TX

    Loved it. Read it in a couple of days. Interesting look into women’s lives during Jesus’ time and presented a very human (vs. divine)picture of what Jesus might have been like as a man and husband.

  • Williamsville , NY

    Read all of Sue Monk Kidd’s books. The Book of Longings is right up there with The Invention of Wings. I haven’t read much about biblical times and wasn’t sure I would like it. Beautifully written!

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