This review does not contain any spoilers – unless you’ve never read the Bible.
In The Book of Longings Sue Monk Kidd imagines the possibility that Jesus had a wife. That’s right, a wife—and she’s woke.
Not much is known about Jesus’ early years and Kidd uses this to envision the young couple’s life. As Jesus is called to his mission, his wife Ana feels a longing inside her too. She wants to write. More importantly, she wants to be heard in a time, place and culture devised to silence her.
I admit I was hesitant to read this novel. I stepped way out of my comfort zone when I selected it for my May BOTM. Not only because it’s historical fiction and I’m a HUGE, unwavering fan of mysteries, but because the idea of Jesus having a wife contradicted my Christian beliefs.
While I have always been respectful and open to opposing religious beliefs, I thought this book would offend rather than inspire. To state the obvious, there’s no mention of a wife in Jesus’ story in the Bible and I never questioned this. I was worried that Jesus would be portrayed as a selfish, demanding husband, but that was far from the case. Kidd portrays Jesus as loving and caring with an empathy for the excluded, the poor and outcasts of all kinds.
Kidd’s novel delicately explored a possibility many wouldn’t dare to touch. To take on writing a novel about the fictional wife of Jesus is no small task and I found it very admirable and brave. I appreciate that Kidd delicately wrote this novel and spent years researching.
Kidd also does a spectacular job at imagery. She makes you see, hear and smell the world Jesus and Ana lived in. Her secondary characters also enliven the story, notably Judas, Jesus’ betrayer and audaciously, Ana’s brother.
When I finished the book I felt empowered and inspired. I saw Ana not only as the wife of Jesus, but as a woman with her own quest. I loved this novel because I saw myself in Ana and I think most women who read this novel will too. I share Ana’s longing to write and to have a voice and to not only be known for one thing or a title.
I would recommend this book to people who are deeply passionate, persistent and never stop chasing their dreams.
I also recommend following Sue Monk Kidd on Instagram, if you can, and tune in live and/or watch the recorded episodes from the #BookofLongingsBookClub Instagram Live series. You get to follow along with the author and a community of avid readers through each section of the book and Kidd answers many questions that will help you gain an understanding and better appreciation of the novel.
This novel is definitely a Book of the Year contender. I rate it ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.