THE New York Times BESTSELLER
The stunning bestseller about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings
'Transporting, life-affirming, gripping. It is simply brilliant' Mel Giedroyc
'Fascinating . . . Clever, rebellious Ana is a memorable character' The Times
'Brilliant . . . Brava!" The Daily Mail
Ana is born in Galilee at a time when women are seen as possessions, only leaving their fathers' homes to marry.
Ana longs to control her destiny. Taught to read despite her mother's misgivings, she wants to be a writer and to find her own voice. A voice that will speak for the silenced women around her.
Betrothed to an elderly widower, Ana almost despairs. But an encounter with a charismatic young carpenter in Nazareth awakens new longings in her, and a different future opens up.
Yet this is not a simple love story. Ana's journey will bring both joy and tragedy, but it will also be enriched by the female friendships she makes along the way.
The Book of Longings is an exquisite tale of dreams and desire, and of the power of women to change the world.
'One of my favourites' Alicia Keys
'I kept having to close this novel and breathe deeply, again and again . . . It is a true masterpiece' Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed
'Unleashes the reader's imagination with glorious evocations of extraordinary times and places, allowing our minds to roam . . . Original, challenging, beautiful' Adele Parks, Platinum
'Compelling . . . Ana is a truly wonderful character, strong and inspiring, and her life story so captivating that it swept me along' Good Housekeeping
'This moving novel by bestselling author Sue Monk Kidd persuasively imagines the marriage between a brilliant young woman and Jesus' Daily Mail
'Incredible . . . A story which is full of humanity, love and tenderness - and one which touched me deeply.' Brown Flopsy's Book Bureau
'The way that Hamnet gave a voice to Shakespeare's wife, this does the same for Ana . . . One of the greats for historical fiction' Books by Bindu
'Not a day has passed since I finished reading it that I have not thought about Ana, her story and the beautiful lyrical words Sue has written' TheFallenLibrarian
'I loved it. I loved the feminist theme, I loved the language and I loved the imagery of putting voice to your longings and then giving birth to them. Just fab' BetweenMyLines
'Glorious. Beautiful. Life-affirming' Buried Under Books
Reviewed by Norah Piehl, The latest from Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees) proposes an audacious premise: Jesus of Nazareth was married, and his wife was a writer. In a richly imagined first-person narrative, Ana, the only daughter of Herod's chief scribe, Matthias, tells of her origins as a writer and her life with Jesus. As a child in Sepphoris, Ana recounts, Matthias allowed her to pursue scholarly interests, and she was drawn toward documenting the stories of Biblical matriarchs ("Listening to the rabbis, one would've thought the only figures worth mentioning... were . When I was finally able to read the Scriptures for myself, I discovered (behold!) there were women"). Once Ana turns 15, however, she is forced to hide away her parchments and scrolls and, despite her protests, her parents arrange for her betrothal to the much older Nathaniel ben Hananiah. Overcome with despair while meeting Nathaniel for the first time in a marketplace, she grows faint and falls. A young bearded man helps her up, causing her to feel an "odd smelting" in her thighs. , After Nathaniel suddenly dies from an illness, Ana meets Jesus, the man from the marketplace, and the two bond over their status as outcasts Ana as a "widow" and Jesus as a child of dubious parentage. In a particularly tender section filled with domestic details of their early marriage, Kidd imagines the young couple's mutually supportive partnership even as Jesus's call to ministry grows stronger. , Kidd deemphasizes the New Testament's telling of Jesus's miraculous deeds and divinity, instead positioning his early faithfulness and ministry not to mention events that will ultimately take his life as essentially political in nature. Jesus's grassroots gospel of radical acceptance and love is contrasted with the violent revolution espoused by Ana's adopted brother, Judas, with the two resistance movements presented as competing alternatives to the repressive Roman power over Israel. Historic and biblical details are balanced by lively dialogue and debates between characters about matters of faith and action. , Ana's ambition and strong sense of justice make her a sympathetic character for modern readers, even if her rebellion against her parents may seem somewhat anachronistic for a woman of her time. Throughout the joys of her marriage and the trials of this long separation and its aftermath, Ana returns repeatedly to the hopeful words of her aunt and mentor, Yaltha: "Return to your longing. It will teach you everything." In an afterword, Kidd offers insights into her research and makes the argument that Jesus's marriage despite later church assumptions and teachings was not only possible but likely. , 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. , Norah Piehl is the executive director of the Boston Book Festival.