Title: The Book of Longings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Published: 21 April 2020
To start, I’d probably not have read this book if it wasn’t for a book club I’m in. As someone who has left Christianity—multiple times, I might add—I wasn’t interested in a fictional book about someone who was married to Jesus. But it was the book chosen for August and the library had a copy, so why not read it. Oh, how naive I was.
First off, the one part done well is the story/plot itself. The plot was fascinating enough that I still read, plus it’s what gave this the bump in the star rating. The historical aspect of the book was compelling and how everyone interacted together was interesting to read. Yet, the plot threads weren’t enough to salvage this story.
The characters were okay for the most part. Jesus and Ana were the only two who were absolutely horrible and annoying. For Jesus, Monk completely erased most of theology with him acting like he didn’t know that he was the son of God (she also had it written that Mary didn’t know either). It also felt like Jesus was acting a bit too gullible might be the best word I can find. Monk’s real offense is the book comes with the character Ana, the character she created. I understand the compulsion to wish for better lives for women during this time period however, Monk took this to an extreme that was almost unbelievable. Ana grew up in a wealthy family in Galilee and would’ve known what was expected of her. Yes, she had more freedom due to her father indulging her, but her acting surprised and upset that her parents arranged a marriage for her was a bit much. Most of the time it felt like a character that should’ve been growing up in the second-wave feminist movement not in the early times of 10-20 AD.
The biblical aspects in the book felt like Monk only took a cursory glance or was remembering from bible school, as it wasn’t accurate to most of Jesus’ ministry or the time. In the end, I didn’t understand the point of Ana and Jesus being married. I, along with the book club I’m in, discussed it would’ve been much more compelling to have Ana and Judas be married instead of brother/sister.
As someone who left the church, I understand the need to want to have a Jesus (and God) that is more loving and more supportive of women. But there is a way to write this that is accurate to history and keeps within the characterization without bastardizing real people.
Happy Reading Darlings!