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The Book of Longings  By  cover art

The Book of Longings

By: Sue Monk Kidd
Narrated by: Mozhan Marnò,Sue Monk Kidd
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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times Best seller

From the author of the multi-million-copy-selling The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

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 best-selling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings.

'I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.'

In her mesmerising fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman called Ana.

Ana is a rebellious young woman, a gifted writer with a curious, brilliant mind, who writes secret narratives about the neglected and silenced women around her. Raised in a wealthy family in Galilee, she is sheltered from the brutality of Rome's occupation of Israel. Ana is expected to marry an elderly widower to further her father's ambitions, a prospect that horrifies her. A chance encounter with the 18-year-old Jesus changes everything: his ideas and his passion are intoxicating.

Taking Ana on a journey she could never have imagined, The Book of Longings is a glorious evocation of a time and a place where astounding events unfolded, and of one woman's fate when she fights to make her voice heard.

©2020 Sue Monk Kidd (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Superlative.... From a writer at the top of her game.... A practically perfect historical novel." (New York Journal of Books

"A bold, imaginative reworking." (Sunday Times

"Brilliant.... Brava!" (The Daily Mail

What listeners say about The Book of Longings

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amazing astonishingly touched my heart deeply.

I needed to hear this story. ehat can I say 40 years of conservative Christianity left me full of fears. I am now a mystic of the league of longing. still in live with the universal Christ.

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Captivating!!!

Absolutely loved the Re-imagination of Anna & how her existence & voice would have impacted our current world. A deep book of longing!!! I also loved her life-changing prayers!!!

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Beautiful

This narrative was so engaging and also had a spiritual depth for women that I found profound. I highly recommend this beautiful story to all women - the concept of 'longings' is so real and true for me and I believe for many women.

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The Book of Longings

The narrator has a beautiful and soothing voice, I enjoyed it immensely. It's exquisitely written, highly recommended.

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pronunciation!

great story, but became continually irritated by the reader mispronouncing the name Chaia. It should read as a Ghuya.

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Missed opportunity on he story

I dont mind playing with the idea that Jesus had a wife and a 'normal' family, but wow to give him such a boring domestic environment is a missed opportunity. The author made it seem that Jesus took up his calling as a half reluctant political move, that started in his adulthood. However, he was already in his calling and teaching at a very young age. His wife would have been an equally enlightened person, deeply involved in his journey, and not this left behind creature.

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Moving and Beautiful

At first I was taken aback by the audacious way this novel is written, which the author herself acknowledges. As a Christian, I’ve grown up with the traditional view of bachelor Jesus. However, it didn’t take long to be captivated by this tale of courage, love, and self-fidelity. Ana is a woman of untold strength and bravery. Seeing Jesus through her eyes opened my own to a greater understanding of the “fully human” side of him. The characters in this book are complex and fully realised, and the world they inhabit feels very tangible. Another excellent work by Ms. Monk Kidd.

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beautiful storytelling

This was compelling tale of a young woman's struggle to be heard in the world. a great historical fiction that was both believable and enjoyable to read. a great concept in which a story previously unheard of is told in all its vibrancy. beautiful language throughout and dialogue to really make you think deep within yourself.

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I loved this book!

I would like to believe it is a true story. Ana mist definitely has a voice and she needs to be heard by all women.

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  • caroline
  • 04-27-20

Unexpectedly Brilliant

I wasn’t sure that I’d like this book I absolutely loved it
Looking at history we all know through a woman’s eyes instead of a mans gives it a whole new meaning
Thoroughly enjoyable it keeps to the facts we know but comes from a very different view point making you pause for thought and think what if
Keep listening to the authors notes at the end it gives a further new insight
Definitely recommend this book and will be listening to it again

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  • Caroline Lawrence
  • 04-26-20

I wanted to be won over

But I was ultimately unconvinced by this picture of life in first century Middle East. Too many inaccuracies and also mispronunciations (in the audio version) Jesus does not seem remotely Jewish and there is little sense of us being in a Greco-Roman world. But it has some nice moments!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-30-20

Wonderful book that brought New Testament tunes to life

I really loved this book for the way it brought the times of the Old Testament to life and told some of the ‘lost’ years of Jesus (and her own story) through a fictional character, Anna. I’ve recently read some of the Greek stories retold through female eyes and it so interesting to hear about stories where women often weren’t included in the original narrative from a woman’s viewpoint. In Anna we find a young girl who is 14 when the story begins. She loves learning and writing but is about to be betrothed to an older man against her will. Her voice and writings are in danger of being stifled in the patriarchal society of those times. The streets and ways of places like ancient Galilee, Nazareth and Alexandria are painted in wonderful detail, you can imagine being there amongst the braying crowds ready for a stoning, or in the basic and busy home of Jesus and his family, or the palace of Herod Antipas. The author’s research is meticulous as she explains in her note at the end and it is a thoroughly enjoyable read that makes you look at familiar stories in a new light. The narrator had a clear and engaging tone. Just a few pronunciations that bothered me and I felt should have been checked or researched before being read aloud repeatedly - it really grates, the same as if reading a spelling mistake in a printed book. The Jewish morning prayer the shemah is not pronounced ‘shee mar’, it’s ‘sheh mar’ - the name Chaya, meaning life in Hebrew is pronounced with a hard throaty ‘H’ not a ‘ch’ like ‘cheese’ and the name ‘Tabitha’ isn’t pronounced ‘ Tabeetha’ - this may sound pedantic but when so much work has gone into producing such a detailed account it does seem lazy not to check on pronunciations that could be verified quite quickly and easily - but don’t let it spoil a wonderful and well read book.

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  • Lucy Dabner
  • 08-04-20

A pure triumph of a novel

I loved this book from start to finish. Expertly constructed, wonderful prose and the story spoke to me in so many ways. A perfect blend of spirituality, the feminine story, the power of soul, creativity, ostracism, survival, will and compassion. And so much more! It fed my soul. Thank you Sue Monk Kidd.

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  • julie
  • 05-07-20

The power of women and the power of love

I found this a strong and beautiful tale redressing the place of power, fortitude, gifted ness and strength in the archetypal portrayal of women and their capacity for love at many levels.
It's well researched, well imagined and I would recommend this to anyone who is intelligent gifted and respectful of the best in each other. It's also a clear warning about the tacit acceptance of the abuse of power against fifty percent of the population.

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  • Hannah Parkes
  • 10-06-20

An excellent combination of history and fiction

Sue Monk Kidd is an author with such amazing attention to detail. Her combination of history, tradition and fiction brings characters to life with a lovely empathy.
This is another fascinating story.
I highly recommend both this, and The Invention of wings.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-04-20

Absorbing

Beautifully narrated, this book captivated and brought to life a new, imagined reality of how things may have been at the time of Jesus. It evokes such a vivid picture of women in ancient society and the abuse of male power against women to keep them small, that still lingers today

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  • belinda dix
  • 08-14-20

A stunning book

I truly loved this book to the extent that I feel bereft now that I have finished it. Beautifully and sensitively written I would highly recommend.

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  • sue shand
  • 06-25-20

very interesting storyline

gives food for thought. the characters are well described so to be able to visualise them amongst the countries and within the cultures of the time thank you

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  • Hoover
  • 05-28-20

Not as good as Monk Kidd's other novels

I'm usually a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd, but this book was a struggle. The heavy feminist message and the historical setting in the ancient world meant that for me the characters were very one dimensional and underdeveloped. Shame that it didnt work as well as The Invention of Wings, which I loved.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-24-20

A captivating story, narrated beautifully

Enjoyed this thoroughly. couldn't put it down. Beautifully written and we'll researched SMK has taken me on a journey through ancient lands and within myself. I loved the narration- I'd seek out this narrator again!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-31-21

Cheated

I loved the premise of this book and how it flowed from the start. It had a beautiful narrative that felt like a unique glimpse into ancient times. But after a while I found myself wondering why a book about Jesus’ wife barely included Jesus, why the story took turns so wildly off script that felt more like a collected stories from multiple people of the time. The author explained that her intention was to paint a portrait of a partnership. I saw no such thing. Ana and Jesus were connected in love, but they seemed to know very little about each other. There are several mentions of Jesus going out in the world and getting into trouble, they speak of his fame and what people say of him. But surely, a true partnership would explain such things from a first hand account by Ana herself, being there herself. It’s not enough to say that Jesus’s relationship to God was everything, as a reader we need to witness that connection. The true partnership in this book is the relationship that Ana has with female friends and family, her sisterhood. Jesus is just an anchor to the time the story takes place in. I feel really cheated by this book. I expected a personal account of lore from the Da Vinci Code. This was not that. Don’t get me wrong, this book had its good moments. But this is not a story about Jesus’ wife, it’s a story about empty goddess worship, hallow mysticism, unrealistically modern opinions and Jesus as an afterthought. Come to think of it, the same story could have been told completely without him in it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-07-20

Loved this!

This is a most interesting and thought provoking novel, based on aspects of Jesus’ life and imagining him to have married. It follows Anna, his wife, from childhood to old age, and gives a remarkable insight into various strata of society in the years before Christ’s crucifixion. Beautifully narrated. A compelling listen, and I highly recommend it. Make sure you listen to the author notes at the end for context.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-09-22

To give a voice to the wife of Jesus is brilliant!

Beautifully written so that I could believe it was the voice of the woman who was the wife of Jesus. I loved how the author gave Anna a voice and the longing for her words to be recognised in a time when the female was not recognised. I enjoyed her story of love for Jesus the man and her own longing and call to God. Highly recommended!!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-08-22

Exquisite in it’s telling.

This books opens you to search for the longings that lay deep within your heart, to journey alongside Anna as she comes to know herself, her deepest desires and the eternal flame of love & passion in her heart. As the wings of her heart unfurl, so too will yours.

This book opens the heart and mind to Jesus the man and holy being as one. You will see through new eyes as you behold his life through a new lens.

Though fictional, you will feel the tendrils of truth woven into the fabric of this magnificent telling.

The characters will become your friends and your enemies. You will smell the earth and spikenard, the love and struggles, you will feel the pulse of this story in the beating of your heart.

This is a joy to listen to the narrators voice is perfect for the telling.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-19-22

Dull and ridiculous

I usually enjoy this author’s use of language and was hoping for some of this in the book. Instead, it was a tale of people fleeing from A to B to C …etc and no skills shown to lift the characters above this. I don’t really care about the “true” story of Jesus and certainly don’t care about the author’s imaginings around it. These imaginings were dull and lack lustre. The writings of Anna were not inspiring and barely mentioned. Why not use your language skills to come up with something impressive, Sue M K? Also, why do characters that are supposedly incredibly spiritual come across as so mundane and callous? They are selfish in pursuing their purpose while leaving supposedly lesser beings to their ordinary lives and then using others to help them traipse across the countryside on dangerous missions. You’ve lost me as a reader SMK.

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  • Annie Wilson
  • 05-19-22

Left me longing for more

Well researched greatly thoughtful story with attention to detail that created the world as it most likely appeared in that era.
Beautifully narrated.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Story of Jesus of Nazareth from a female perspective. Very human experience, with respect to all the Jews and Christians.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-15-22

Breath taking

The story is amazing and captivating. The story of Ana is one I will never forget, the line between fiction and non-fiction is blurred beautifully.
The narration superb.

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  • Patricia Harvey
  • 08-27-21

What a gem!

Enriching, exquisitely thoughtful, poetically beautiful and momentously uplifting, especially for women! How wonderful it would have been if Jesus had been married to a woman such as Anna .. and that history had acknowledged her! The role of women today would have been so different.. surely!!

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  • Jane Krauss
  • 06-14-21

The New Da-Vinci Code

Part of me didn't want to like this book as it is written from the POV of Anna, the wife of Jesus. There are a lot of historical inaccuracies (OBVIOUSLY), but the narrative gripped me. However, the description uses aspects of modern Judaism and places it in Second Temple Judaism, which doesn't quite work.

Step aside The Da Vinci Code, this book takes the cake of being very sacrilegious. Using the historical aspects of the New Testament story of Jesus, the book sets him as a man searching for a father figure and his wife who he abandons. I feel conflicted because the writing is so well done, but the whole story is ...

If I weren't so invested in the story, I probably would have given it a lower rating and probably would have stopped reading it. But the story was done so well. I needed to finish it. I just had to know what happened and how the author used the story of the New Testament. Seeing a fictional female’s perspective of the first century Israel was fascinating.

The author notes gave a lot of perspective to this idea of Jesus having a wife. She brings some intense arguments. Without her notes, many people would probably go wild as they did with The Da Vinci Code. The author needed readers to know why she wrote the human Jesus in such away. To see many of that time, it was a perspective they would have seen at the time of his life.