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Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

The book of longings: a piece of Turin's Shroud underlies the title surrounded by starsA review by Emma Streeton

“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus of Nazareth. I am a voice” – The Book Of Longings.

It is widely believed that Jesus was the son of God. An unmarried man who was crucified and buried. The Bible tells us about Jesus’s life. However, much of his short life is a mystery. What if in those years, Jesus found love and married? Sue Monk Kidd took this idea. She turned it into what is one of the best pieces of historical fiction I have ever read. I understand that for some this might be a difficult notion to believe and accept but this book brings the possibility to life.

Complex yet powerful

The story-line is quite complex. If you allow yourself to get swept away in your reading you are taken on an astounding and interesting journey. The novel sees us bear witness to Ana’s entire life and her longing to be able to live her life the way she wants to. She is a strong and inspiring female character. Ana is a character you come to care deeply for and one who stays in your thoughts long after you put the book down. Kidd writes so believably about a passionate woman who is brave enough to rebel in a patriarchal society.  I loved how beautifully Ana reveals this story. Following Ana’s journey through many dangers and reading about how her relationship with Jesus began and grew is really quite a literary experience. It certainly got my imagination going.

Skillfully explored

This is definitely one of the most skillfully explored historical fiction books I have ever read. The author explains that while she was very careful to perform extensive research and kept most of her references historically accurate, she needed to change some things in order to fit. In my opinion everything she has done works so well. She produced a remarkable story. This is one of those books that will be well thumbed because you will want to lend it to all your book loving friends.


The Book of Longings shows the strength of women through time. Ana’s aunt Yaltha and her close friend Tabitha were two characters that really had an impact on me. Their courage and determination to survive despite the mistreatment and prejudice they faced was remarkable. Their character development was really impressive and I found myself championing their resilience to endure and thrive. Yaltha’s voice provided so much insight and wisdom. Some quotes which will stay with me for a long time to come:

“When I tell you all shall be well, I don’t mean that life won’t bring you tragedy. Life will be life. I only mean you will be well in spite of it. All shall be well, no matter what.”

The verdict

Ana is a woman with strength, curiosity, and a thirst for knowledge. The Book of Longings is her unforgettable story. It is both an engaging and deeply moving read which I highly recommend. Thank you Sue Monk Kidd for a fabulous reading experience.

Book details

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781472232502
Publisher: Tinder Press (Hachette Australia) and Penguin
Format: paperback
Released: 2020

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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