I am not a religious person (and doubt I ever will be) but The Book of Longings is such an evocative recreation of many of the biblical stories that this novel completely captured my imagination. It has also stole my heart.
Written by Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees, and already a New York Times bestseller, this is a beautiful book that has women, female strength and friendship right at its core.
I definitely class The Book of Longings as a modern classic.
The Book of Longings has very recently been released in paperback (18th March 2021) and I urge you all to read it. It is the fictional and very rich account of Ana. I was totally immersed in Ana’s story which powerfully portrays a time when women are viewed only as the possessions of men. Yet against all the odds Ana strives for so much more, driven by her desperation to pursue and control her true and very own destiny.
The depiction of how women in this novel are treated at the hands of men – often men desperate for power and wealth – is raw, brutal and heart breaking. Yet Ana, loyal to her femininity and friends uses her writing skills, her talent for subterfuge and her courage to give a voice to those women around her that have brutally been forced into silence.
When the book opens Ana is aged 14 and trying to hide the start of her periods from her domineering mother. With the onset of her period, Ana is classed as a woman and can finally become a wife. Yet Ana has other dreams – she wants to become a writer and is desperate to find her authentic voice. However Ana’s secret is discovered and against her pleas, is betrothed to an elderly widower with a reputation for cruelty. It is only her beloved brother Judas that understands her need to escape this marriage, yet he is in hiding from Herod Antipas, a cruel leader with an ambition to be named as King of the Jews
It is at this first meeting with her betrothed, at a market, that Ana also encounters a young peasant man with a ‘tiny fire‘ in his eyes and ‘no trace of disdain‘ for her wealth. This man, just a few years older than Ana is Jesus; and it is Jesus that awakens a new longing within her.
Don’t worry, it is not a spoiler, but against the odds, Ana and Jesus marry. Although not a simple love story due to their individual destinies calling, Ana and Jesus’s marriage is full of love, respect and equality. It is a love match that will bring happiness, understanding and great tragedy to Ana’s life.
As well as being the wife of Jesus, Ana is also the beloved sister of Judas, a very infamous figure in the biblical stories that we all know and grew up with.
According to the Christian scriptures, Jesus never married. Yet The Book of Longings is a rich reimagining of the biblical stories that dominate our history, one that gives Jesus a wife and how that impacted on him and the world. It is a very human story and completely captivated me. This is a novel that is sure to stay with me for a very long time.
I feel so pleased and privileged to have been invited on the blog tour to help publicise the paperback release of this beautiful book. Thank you Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for the invite.
To follow the tour and also read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers, please see below.
The Book of Longings was published in paperback by Tinder Press on 18th March 2021.