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The Book of Longings cover art

The Book of Longings

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

"An epic masterpiece that is a triumph of insight and storytelling." (Associated Press)

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

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by O, the Oprah Magazine, Good Morning America/ABC-TV, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, Time, Marie Claire, and The Millions.

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

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 18-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.

©2020 Sue Monk Kidd (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“I kept having to close this novel and breathe deeply, again and again. A radical re­imagining of the New Testament that reflects on women's longing and silencing and awakening, it is a true masterpiece.” (Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed)

“[Kidd’s] painstaking research and artful crafting of setting and character ensures that The Book of Longings is not just an extraordinary novel, but one with lasting power...[her] brilliance shines through on so many levels, but not the least in her masterful, reverential approach to capturing Jesus of Nazareth as a fully human young man...[The Book of Longings] is an epic masterpiece that is a triumph of insight and storytelling.” (Associated Press) 

Featured Article: Historical Fiction Listens with Strong and Inspiring Female Protagonists


History teaches us what happened; historical fiction novels let us feel what happened. Without female protagonists in these historical fiction books, we’re only getting half the picture of what it might have been like to live through different time periods. Whether it’s a historical romance set hundreds of years ago or a twentieth-century drama based on actual events, discover listens that are both heartbreaking and humbling as female characters lead the way.

What listeners say about The Book of Longings

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Breathtakingly rich, nuanced and interesting

This book is the balm I needed for the times we are in . It is a rich tapestry of characters, story and history that makes you think , love and inquire all at the same time . I know I will re visit this book again many times in the future. The audio version is excellent and the tone and cadence of the audio narrator is extremely well suited to the book. I felt that Anna was talking and sharing her story only with me .

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11 people found this helpful

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  • LK
  • 2020-05-20

An outstanding contribution to women’s literature

It is difficult to contemplate how a contemporary author was able to create a tale encompassing the presumed wife of Jesus. Fortunately, Ms. Kidd succeeds in creating such a character. I found this book alive with brilliant characters capable of all the dimensions we experience as we enter our senior years.

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7 people found this helpful

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A mesmerizing and wonderful story

The language and the story are excellent. Great work of imagination about life of Jesus and his fiction wife Ana. The book is not an easy read. It starts slowly but after a while you can’t put it aside. This novel is not for everyone, but if you like history it is the best choice and one of the unforgettable books of this year.

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Cannon of Fiction

Dear Sue, Thank you. For your courage, for your eloquence, for this gift of writing to womankind. May there be more minorities represented in Hollywood, more stories of women glorified from the pulpit, and the flame of Anna’s spirit in each of us. Reaching for my pen now. Thank you.

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Empowering and perfectly read

such an empowering, woman-centered story, as one expects from Sue Monk Kidd. I was not convinced I'd enjoy this book from the description, but I was so pleasantly surprised. Mozhan is the perfect voice for this story (or really any story!) that consumed so much of my mind while reading it. couldn't put it down!

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Just what I needed

This story is so many things; historically facilitating, feminist, spiritually liberating and provocative, narrated beautifully and full of characters you feel you know and love.

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Wonderful novel

What a gift! Such an inspired story and told at an exhilarating pace. I will read this novel over and over again.

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Stunning Couldn’t put it down

I was a bit worried about reading this book... but for whatever reason I was drawn to it... as an atheist I wasn’t really interested in a study of the Bible. Thank Sophia I didn’t give up! This book was absolutely stunning. The author’s years of research definitely paid off making it 100% plausible that Jesus would have a wife, this was the expectation of men between 20 and 30. The author creates such depth in the characters, such beauty in the landscape and such tension and emotion in the storyline that it was difficult to put down, We all have longings- passions so close to our soul that we can’t ignore them. Despite barriers in front of us we must pursue them in order to be complete and live a productive life true to our callings.

I loved this book and would highly recommend it.

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Enjoyed

I really enjoyed this telling of Anna, the wife of Jesus. As a Christian person, I wasn't sure if I should read it, but I found it very inspiring. It gave a view of what the life of Jesus could have been during his 20's as he drew closer to his ministry.

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A beautiful journey with a woman during the time of Jesus.

Sue Monk Kidd follows her heart as she brings to the page the character of Ana, the wife of Jesus. Ana allows us to feel the compassion of Jesus while struggling to be a women writer during a time when the voice of women was never heard. Upon reading this work of fiction, one feels the humanity in Jesus and the desperate attempt of women wanting their stories to be heard.

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  • Joan
  • 2020-05-08

Made me cringe

I realize that the object of the book is to follow the notion that Jesus had a wife and to give her a voice. But, to portray the man she fell in love with, married and partnered with as merely a man is just too hard to bear.
Jesus was both man and God here on earth and still is God today. He communicated with his Father-God throughout his entire life and knew full well His purpose here on earth. He then fulfilled that purpose in His death AND RESURRECTION! To suggest that He was merely a good man who preached God’s love and was killed for it, is to say Jesus was a liar and deceiver. Jesus proclaimed who He was - God come to earth. If He was not who He claimed to be, then Christianity and half the world’s faith in Him is a huge farce and Jesus was definitely NOT a good man!
The author painstakingly researched so many historical and Biblical facts but completely ignored the most important facts and theme of the entire Bible. She picked and chose details to build her story, leaving it completely soulless and painful to read.

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  • MissAngel26
  • 2020-04-26

good book, bad narrator

this is one I wish I'd read on my Kindle. the narrator is so fkn robotic, it's crazy. parts of dialogue that were supposed to be emotional (playful as well as sad) was read the exact same as describing the setting of one of the dwellings. I had a lot trouble getting into Anna's feelings because of this. for example: one of the characters had her tongue cut out and when she's finally able to speak again, instead of speaking with a speech impediment to make it believable, she just puts this long pause between every few words in that character's dialogue which only serves to add to the roboticness of this lady's speech. I can't impress upon you enough, get the ebook. the narration is abysmal

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  • Mary Patten
  • 2020-04-26

Simply fabulous!

If you have read her before and enjoyed it, you'll love this. The narrator also brought the characters to life for me. The story is one I have often thought must have happened and Sue Monk Kidd writes it in a most believable way. She has given the women of the time a Voice.

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  • Meg M
  • 2020-04-28

The Life of Jewish Women in the time of Jesus

As always Sue Monk is an excellent writer who is telling the stories of the Jewish Women in a time when women's lives and voices were silenced. I was drawn in by her characters and her depiction of the places and cultures. The narration could have been better. I felt like the narrator broke the sentences down in strange places and that took away from the story.

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  • Deborah F.
  • 2020-05-07

Expected more

I have loved Sue Monk Kidd's other books and expected as much from this one. I think the story of Ana could have stood on its own and didn't really need the "Jesus" hook. The pace was good and I liked the voice of the narrator. Because of the time and place of the story, I personally wished she would have used the the Hebrew names and I wish the narrator had been a bit more precise in her pronunciation of the Hebrew words. I found that distracting. I was a somewhat disappointed by this story and wished she had let Ana develop on her own merits.

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  • Salazar
  • 2020-05-14

My Favorite Book

As a women and lover of Jesus, I am deeply grateful for Sue gifting us with this masterpiece. I feel as if I just returned home from the journey along side Anna, the bride of Jesus. I am left with a deeper love for Him.

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  • NinJA
  • 2020-04-23

Sue Monk Kidd did it again...

Sue Monk Kidd is an amazing writer and she has spun another story that is gripping and compelling. The only thing that kept creeping into my mind was not just that Jesus was married but by misrepresenting almost every part of the known historical story. That said, I know this is a story. And it is a fabulous story. It was hard to stop listening.

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  • Pamela c Radosevich
  • 2020-05-12

A beautiful story, with timeless characters.

A feminist story written about a time in history where such a thing was unimaginable. It is a love story told by a young woman who attempted to balance the passion of love with the passion of the soul. She chose a partner who mirrored her own process. Her life was an adventure, and one that I was delighted to share .

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12 people found this helpful

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  • Syd Young
  • 2020-06-06

How would the Western World be Different

This is the story of Ana, who wanted a voice, who was married, for a time, to a wonderful man named Jesus. Beautifully imagined. If you loved The Red Tent, this is for you!

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2020-12-07

Antisemitic

There were so many inaccuracies in this book. You would think that if the author and performer were using Hebrew words and names and quoting Hebrew prayers, they would know how to pronounce them. Uses for the Mikveh were also wrong. The list could go on. I understand that this is a novel, but to be so leisurely with someone else's religion is rude. Also, the old antisemitic tropes that show Judaism as a harsh legalistic religion shone through. By the way, all Jews today are descendants of Pharisaic rabbinic Judaism. It was the most liberal even in its time. I was sad to see Kidd show her ignorance about and disregard for the Judaism of now or in the first century. Shame on her for her lazy research, or perhaps the tyranny of the majority reigns again. She did not think it worth it to check for accuracy on these issues. I guess she just assumed her preconceived notions of a religion with which she is largely unfamiliar were just fine with her.

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9 people found this helpful