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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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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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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.

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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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wow what a wonderful adventure..

I haven't read fiction in years & hadn't intention to restart yet hearing of this book through a Brene Brown podcast I immediately obtained it yet not drawn to indulge in just the pleasureof reading, forsaking education, I left it on the shelf (so to speak) yet it is now with heartfelt adoration I write this review wishing I'd allowed myself sooner to partake in it's beauty.. in fact I can't wait to read it again!

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Fantastic, intricately woven story

Sue Monk Kidd has done it again. This narrative speaks for the unheard voices of women from the time of Jesus.It is told in first person by his wife, it's not only an enticing story, but an enlightening journey of the times. Kidd explores and unearths the life of women in that era with exquisite and heart felt story telling that has been thoroughly researched, so you feel you are truly in those times with the characters. She cleverly peppers the birth of Christianity throughout the story with poignancy.
Highly recommend the story and the narrator!

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amazing book.

absolutely loved this book and by whom it is told by.
thank you for such a beautiful story.

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Good insights into the times...

Good story and insights into the time of JC. Skips all the religious stuff which is great. At times it was a bit chringey in regards to her obsession with JC. Maybe in those times women worshipped their husbands, ain't like that for me now. The JC character was a little under developed so that may be why I didn't understand her obsession with him. The best part was it highlighted the tough life women had back then. It's nearly impossible to comprehend what it must have been like. No rights or freedom. Men in control of the destiny of women. It really is sickening which makes the lead character so much stronger and actually more inspirational than the JC character. Performance was good.

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Beautiful!

A historical story that we’ve all heard but reimagined and brought to life through the beautiful fictional character Ana. I’m not a religious person but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book and would recommend to anyone who likes a lead female character with a heartfelt story that will probably make you cry.

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Beautiful story

I highly recommend this audio book. Full of wonderful characters this beautiful story allows one to consider another side to this biblical story. Narration was brilliant!

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Loved it.

Beautifully written and articulated. I didn't want to stop listening! Enthralling description and idea.

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  • Sarah Warugongo
  • 07-08-2020

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!!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • miss esther f wainwright
  • 08-04-2021

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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  • Joel
  • 12-12-2020

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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  • Dawn Rodgers
  • 11-12-2020

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
  • 27-04-2020

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

9 people found this helpful

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  • Caroline Lawrence
  • 26-04-2020

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!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-05-2020

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Lucy Dabner
  • 04-08-2020

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
  • 07-05-2020

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Hannah Parkes
  • 06-10-2020

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-09-2020

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • belinda dix
  • 14-08-2020

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • sue shand
  • 25-06-2020

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hoover
  • 28-05-2020

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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