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The Book of Longings: A Novel

Written by:
Sue Monk Kidd
Narrated by:
Mozhan Marnò , Sue Monk Kidd

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
April 2020
13 hours 23 minutes
“An extraordinary novel . . . a triumph of insight and storytelling.” —Associated Press

“A true masterpiece.” —Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed

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.
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Edwina M.

If you are a reader who is made uncomfortable by entertaining the possibility that there was more to Jesus' life than what is revealed in the Bible, then this is not the book for you. I'm not one of those people and therefore thoroughly enjoyed this historical novel. It is well-written and meticulously researched, and the characters are layered and believable. The novel focuses mostly, though not exclusively, with the years during the life if Jesus that the Bible leaves blank and deals with his life as a human being. Given the cultural expectations for a Jewish man of the time, I find it no stretch at all to believe that he was married, and the emphasis on celibacy after a couple of hundred years in the early church explain why a wife was not mentioned in the gospels.

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Patty I

I enjoyed this book and the reader. I don’t agree with all she said and the portrayal of Jesus, but, do believe he was married. That is a commandment God instituted for us.

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Sivan B.

The book was good, but not Sue Monk Kidd’s best. There was much I loved about it, and, in general, it grew on me; I liked it more and more as it went along. Still, it’s not the best historical fiction I’ve ever read, or the best novel by this author. The narrator: As far as technical skills are concerned, the narrator was great. She has a lovely voice, she did different characters’ voices well, and I was able to lose myself in the story thanks to her. But she only gets two stars from me because her pronunciation of the Hebrew names was atrocious. Honestly, if you are a narrator, it is part of your job to look up words you do not know and see how they are pronounced. This book was FULL of Hebrew names. And every time she said one of them, the way she pronounced it was so distracting that it took me out of the world of the book. This would have been such a simple thing to avoid, and it was completely unprofessional of her to just pronounce all of these names the way she thinks they’re pronounced rather than the way they are pronounced in the living language from which they come.

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Superb! A book for feminists and those that feel set aside but also for those with religious trainings. Having been raised in a religious home the facts the author uses with names, locations, practices keep you grounded while flexing your ability to question the other facts. I loved it!

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Lynn H.

I enjoyed the book and the history of life during this time !

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Kyle H.

I loved this beautiful depiction of who could’ve been Jesus’ wife and the strong, resilient, and holy women who survived and found voice in such an oppressive time. Just lovely!!

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Laura W.

I found the idea for the novel compelling, and the story well-framed. The writing was flat and uneven. I felt certain characters were well-developed, i.e. Ana and Judas, while others, i.e. Jesus and Mary, felt shallow, as if the author was not interested in filling in the rough outlines the Bible offers, or didn't have to time to infuse them with feelings, emotions, thoughts, fears, life. Also, unfortunately, the monotone narration did not inspire, either.

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Lynn H.

I’ve enjoyed her other books but this one seemed lacking in charm and revolves around the suggestion that Jesus was married to a young woman who had disappointed her family and became a hindrance to her family’s prosperity. If the story became more about the sacred feminine and the sisterhood of the invisible women of that era.

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Had I known this was Jesus story of his life and crucifixion but the addition of fictional characters namely a wife I never would have listened.

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I was hesitant to purchase this book because of my christian beliefs. But, I knew the story was fictional. Considering this, I thought it was very good. There were a few parts that were uncomfortable, considering my beIiefs, but it was a deep and touching fictional story. I was able to enjoy it. I have listened to all of the other books written by Sue Monk Kidd and loved them.

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Very disappointed. My beliefs of Jesus do not include the fictional characters in this book.

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Drivel. I gave it a full 30 chapters hoping it could somehow redeem itself, but it failed miserably. A complete waste of my time and money.

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